Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the day “January 8, 2011”

A Sustainable Chinese Future

In the last month I have posted three times regarding China, whether to protest the imprisonment of Shi Tao or the sad debacle of Liu Xiabo, the Nobel prize winner, currently also incarcerated.

I have heard from people who feel that I am anti-China. I am not. In fact, I spent years studying Tai Chi Chuan and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I embrace a lot of the lessons that emanate from Chinese culture.

In particular, I Look China has posted several times criticizing my choice of  contention. I will agree to disagree. Doing sometime illegal is exactly that and the proponents know what they face. However, non-violent protest is a mark of a society’s maturity and its own personal comfort level with itself.

There are two aspects of China that I feel critical about. The first is human rights and democracy as these previous posts make clear. But I am also worried about the growing and (so I thought) unchecked industrial growth, and in particular, the impact on the environment.

So I was really excited to hear that there is a thriving Greenpeace in China. It is an organization facing a massive expansion, one that dwarfs the industrial United States. I am also quick to recognize that the steps taken here in the US are clearly not enough, and fighting the small rich oligarchy here is incredibly frustrating.

But the knowledge that Greenpeace is established and respected in China offers hope not only for the environment, but also that it is possible to be critical in China.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com


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