Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thank you, Liu Xiaobo

Thank God, but above all, thank the men and women who have the guts (i.e., the courage, nerve, fortitude, moxie, audacity) to risk their lives, freedoms, and liberties to pursue and fight for fundamental principles of liberty, justice, equality, freedom and other profound truths and values by standing up to governments, organizations and other individuals who by power, repression and force deny some or all of these fundamental truths, values and rights to individuals or groups deserving of and entitled to them.

The latest hero is Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese writer, literary critic and intellectual, who stepped forward as a political activist in pursuit of greater political and individual freedom in China after the Tiananmen Square demonstrations and military crackdown in 1989 and has put his own freedom and enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures at risk ever since. Congratulations to him for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

For me what is fascinating and uplifting is that Liu Xiaobo has been willing to sacrifice his own liberty in pursuit of such worthy goals. Many others have done so before him, most as followers and some as leaders, but most of us on this Earth don’t take such risks (or, for some, take such risks in pursuit of unworthy goals, and, yes, I get to determine at least for myself which goals are worthy and which are not). Most of us, even when we don’t accept things as they are, lack the courage to take these kinds of risks to stand up to authority and struggle against the prevailing order. We may criticize those in power, vote where we can to replace them, perhaps contribute in small ways in opposition, but we don’t put our own freedom, liberty or pursuit of our own pleasure and happiness, however circumscribed they may be in our particular society, at significant risk.

To those that have done so, and to those doing so currently, thank you. You are, indeed, my heroes.