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 tag “Liu Xiabo”

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.


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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

 

The Empty Chair

Yesterday, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But Chinese authorities refused to allow him or any of his family to travel to Oslo and accept the award on his behalf. This has not happened in 75 years. I have referred to his situation in a previous post.

Here is the best tribute that I can offer.

EXPERIENCING DEATH – Liu Xiaobo

I had imagined being there beneath sunlight
with the procession of martyrs
using just the one thin bone
to uphold a true conviction
And yet, the heavenly void
will not plate the sacrificed in gold
A pack of wolves well-fed full of corpses
celebrate in the warm noon air
aflood with joy

Faraway place
I’ve exiled my life to
this place without sun
to flee the era of Christ’s birth
I cannot face the blinding vision on the cross
From a wisp of smoke to a little heap of ash
I’ve drained the drink of the martyrs, sense spring’s
about to break into the brocade-brilliance of myriad flowers

Deep in the night, empty road
I’m biking home
I stop at a cigarette stand
A car follows me, crashes over my bicycle
some enormous brutes seize me
I’m handcuffed eyes covered mouth gagged
thrown into a prison van heading nowhere

A blink, a trembling instant passes
to a flash of awareness: I’m still alive
On Central Television News
my name’s changed to “arrested black hand”
though those nameless white bones of the dead
still stand in the forgetting
I lift up high up the self-invented lie
tell everyone how I’ve experienced death
so that “black hand” becomes a hero’s medal of honor

Even if I know
death’s a mysterious unknown
being alive, there’s no way to experience death
and once dead
cannot experience death again
yet I’m still
hovering within death
a hovering in drowning
Countless nights behind iron-barred windows
and the graves beneath starlight
have exposed my nightmares

Besides a lie
I own nothing

Liu Xiaobo, a poet and literary critic, is the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. This poem was translated by Jeffrey Yang from the Chinese.


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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

 

 

Week of Freedom – Liu Xiabo

Liu Xiabo has been a leader for Chinese democracy since at least the 1989 demonstrations in Tienanmen Square. He has advocated and stressed using only non-violent protests. Liu Xiabo’s desire for freedom of thought and expression has landed him in prison for 11 years.

Amnesty International took on Xiabo’s case and received a major boost when Xiabo received the Nobel Prize for peace.


China is riding a double track. The government under Deng Xiaoping has implemented an effective easing of economic freedom and this is leading to unparalleled economic growth. Thomas Friedman, who has convinced many that the world is flat has this New York Times op-ed.

I love so much about China. I have studied Tai Chi and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I avidly read Chinese literature. But I wonder what the long-term vision is among Chinese strategists. Do you really think you can offer one type of freedom and deny another? I have news for you, Chinese Communist Party: freedom is addictive, and it ain’t that bad.

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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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