Book Review: ‘Remember the Truth’ by Hongwei Lou

Lou’s memoir, Remember the Truth, gives us a young woman’s view of life in China, the immensely popular spiritual discipline Falun Gong, and the eventual persecution of Falun Gong, which has lasted over 14 years. Movingly told, Remember the Truth provides a privileged look at vast changes taking place in China today. It tells of love in a time of terror, and of the faith and devotion that help restore a shattered family.

By Epoch Times | January 17, 2014

The cover of ‘Remember the Truth,’ a new book about the persecution of Falun Gong and change in China. (Courtesy of publisher)

When Hongwei Lou first heard the rumor that the Chinese Communist Party was going to launch a campaign against Falun Gong, she laughed it off. Why would the Party persecute such a peaceful group of people?

Then the brutal campaign began, and Lou stopped laughing.

Lou’s memoir, Remember the Truth, gives us a young woman’s view of life in China, the immensely popular spiritual discipline Falun Gong, and the eventual persecution of Falun Gong, which has lasted over 14 years. Movingly told, Remember the Truth provides a privileged look at vast changes taking place in China today. It tells of love in a time of terror, and of the faith and devotion that help restore a shattered family.

Like most children growing up in Communist China, Hongwei Lou was taught to believe in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from a very young age. “Often what I was taught at my elementary school could only be called absurd,” she writes. “Most of the test answers were written to praise the CCP.”

Still, she did very well in school and went on to study at Wuhan University, where she met an honest young man named Bu Dongwei. Lou provides us with amusing and touching anecdotes about their courtship in college, their eventual marriage, and the struggles they faced in starting out on their own.

One day Lou went to visit her parents and discovered a miracle. Her mother had been completely cured of her arthritis and frail health, and had even thrown her medicine away. Lou was also amazed by her mother’s new attitude toward life. 

What had changed? Her parents had started practicing Falun Gong. 

Lou took the Falun Gong book home, and she and her husband began to read. The book changed everything. In it, they found answers to many questions about life that they’d never understood before.

Dongwei’s stomach problems went away. They both enjoyed their jobs more, did better at work, and thus began making more money. Life now had meaning beyond the hustle and bustle. They spent their evenings reading the book and strolling in the park discussing how they could have handled things in their life better, according to the practice’s three main principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. On the weekends, they did the exercises in the park, along with a growing number of other people learning the practice.

Three years later, in 1999, the persecution began. Policemen began arresting practitioners, and anti-Falun Gong propaganda was concocted and blasted across all media—lies that Falun Gong’s 100 million adherents knew weren’t true. 

Lou’s world was shattered. After a number of friends had been arrested, threatened, or beaten, she and her husband felt they had to do something. They sat down and wrote letters to a number of Party officials explaining that Falun Gong was good, that the media had it wrong.

It turns out the officials already knew that Falun Gong was good. Many of them were even practicing it themselves. 

Then why was it banned?

According to Lou, the Party teaches “lies, hatred, and struggle,” which is the opposite of the three principles of Falun Gong, “truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.” If nearly everyone in the country started practicing Falun Gong, perhaps there would be no one left who believed in the Party. 

Lou and her husband were quickly arrested for their letters and sent to prison, then to a dispatch center where they endured beatings, verbal abuse, and heavy labor. Lou describes the filthiness of the dispatch center: “I felt that being beaten was better than the unbearable filth.” Later they were taken to labor camps, where Lou recalls psychological torment and sleep deprivation that eventually ate away at her ability to reason.

The story is a stirring example of a much greater catastrophe. 

Still, the book does not bring the reader to the depths of despair. Even within scenes of shocking maltreatment, there are unexpected moments of lightheartedness, such as the “birthday cake” Lou’s fellow inmates made for her out of prison food.

While imprisoned, Lou told other prisoners about Falun Gong, giving them an appreciation of a spiritual tradition they previously knew nothing about.

After about a year, Lou and her husband were released from the labor camps. They resumed their practice of Falun Gong, which helped them regain their physical and mental health. 

In 2004 their baby girl, Tiantian, was born. 

Before the baby was two years old, their happiness was shattered again. While Lou was abroad, her husband was arrested and imprisoned for a second time, and she could not return home without being arrested herself.

“After Dongwei’s second arrest, my life became a nightmare,” Lou writes. “I could neither eat nor drink. I had to force myself to eat. Yet I knew that I could not have a nervous breakdown. I had to rescue him.”

Lou spent more than two years spreading the news of her husband’s arrest all over the world, using every means available to her. She petitioned and asked the international community for help. She would not give up until Dongwei was released.

Remember the Truth is an absorbing and sometimes chilling read. The book ends with hope and with a chance to see with fresh eyes the joy that freedom brings to life.

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