"Those who flee freedom live on but their souls die in fear Those who thirst for freedom die but their souls live on in resistance."
| Liu Xiaobo
My hero has been to prison numerous times. Not for the petty crimes of the general public, but for the using freedom most of the American public takes for granted, the freedom of speech. In China protests are immediately shut down by the military, and many people lose all freedoms they once had for speaking out. Liu Xiaobo, 58, is currently in prison and has been characterized as a thorn in China's side by the BBC and an "angry little man" by Time magazine ("Liu Xiaobo: 20 years of activism", "despite China Threats"). He has persistently defied the will of the Chinese government in order to try to give the general public a voice. Liu Xiaobo has boldly challenged the government, bravely sacrificing his own safety and security for the sake of others. His long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China" won him the Noble Prize in 2010" ("Noble Peace Prize 2010"). Although many people cower meekly under China's rule, Liu stands up against the government, serving as a shrouded figure head for many others. Through his bravery in risking all that he had, outspokenness on topics banned by the Chinese government, and his persistent attempts to correct the Chinese government, it is clear that he possesses the traits that make up a hero.
Liu Xiaobo's bravery makes him stand out in a mass of protestors. In a document entitled "I Have No Enemies: My Final Statement" he addresses his first act of activism: He was a member of the first class to enter a university and decided to earn his PhD in literature and eventually became a scholar well respected teacher at that university. Then he was stripped of his position after taking part in the 1998 protest for "the crime of counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement." He lost his teaching positions and the ability to publish or give talks in China, thus losing the rest of the limited freedoms of expressions he had just for expressing his political views and taking part in a peaceful protest (Xiaobo). His outright expression of belief in a country not only marks him as a target of the Chinese government, but endangers his career. Giving up the comfort of a career and a stable social position is no easy task; by nature people strive for a comfortable lifestyle, but Liu Xiaobo, instead of staying quiet and continuing his successful career, he chose to state his belief in spite of the Chinese government. In 1989 Liu Xiaobo took part in the Tiananmen Square protest, the military moved in to neutralize the situation. Despite the advancing troops, Liu decided to stay behind and convince fellow protestors to leave the square instead of facing down the military. He eventually confronted and tried to negotiate with the army himself, only to get arrested soon afterwards ("Despite China Threats,"). By choosing to stay behind instead of running off, Liu gambled his own life for the fate of others. This gamble shows his bravery. He risked his life to save a few people despite the thousands that wanted to stay and protest. Through his actions he has demonstrated the courage that makes him a man worthy of praise.
| Liu Xiaobo (nobelprize.org)
Liu Xiaobo demonstrated not only a brave spirit but also the ability to speak his opinion despite the intervention of the Chinese government. Even after he had been arrested several times and thrown into a work camp, he still wrote the article "Philosophy of the Pig" in 1898, criticizing writers across China ("Liu Xiaobo"). This criticism came after a few arrests and he knew the consequences yet he still challenged the Government and those who follows meekly its rules. He still spoke openly, not fearing the government and the people he offended as shown by the statement he made in the article "Most of the elites have become proponents of the official position giving 'priority to stability' and 'priority to the economy'" (Xiaobo). Another example of this outspokenness is a statement he made about the futility of hatred: "Hatred can rot away at a person's intelligence and conscience. Enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation, incite cruel mortal struggles, destroy a society's tolerance and humanity, and hinder a nation's progress toward freedom and democracy.. Although I continue to maintain that I am innocent and that the charges against me are unconstitutional." In this statement he indirectly insults the government. By starting off with hated he is blaming the Chinese government for hating its people and calling it's the "enemy" and says that it in itself "hinder[s] the nation's progress." By defining his charges as "unconstitutional," he is comparing the two superpowers in the morals they uphold. He openly accuses the Chinese government for being unjust while he is under full the jurisdictions of the Government in prison. This outspokenness is paired with diligent persistence.
Even though the government had sent him to prison and work camps numerous times in hopes of "correcting" him, Liu Xiaobo still decided that he could keep going. He once stated, "Twenty years have passed, but the ghosts of June Fourth have not yet been laid to rest. Upon release from Qincheng Prison in 1991, I, who had been led onto the path of political dissent by the psychological chains of June Fourth, lost the right to speak publicly in my own country and could only speak through the foreign media. Because of this, I was subjected to year-round monitoring, kept under residential surveillance (May 1995 to January 1996) and sent to Reeducation-Through-Labor (October 1996 to October 1999)." (Xiaobo) Not only did he perform the same act, and repeated his message for 20 years, but he had also persistently sent out his message through foreign means, reaching people who are most likely not going to help due to their distance from the matter at hand, in order to reach anyone willing to help. Despite the prison, despite the surveillance and despite the labor camp he still preaches the same message of freedom and democracy across the globe. He also helped write chapter 08, a manifesto that called for reforms to the Chinese political system including democratic elections, separation of powers and an independent judiciary, Signed by thousands, the petitions quickly gained popularity before it was taken down by the government, some of the signers were even taken in for interrogation. ("Despite China Threats"). Even as he was watched by the police he continued to try to get his message out for others to see. In the writing of Chapter 08 he shows his persistence, deciding that he would assist in writing the petition despite the police, knowing the consequence of being caught as shown by the consequences given for his many other attempts to get the same message out. This persistence has won him the respect of many and continue to inspire many others with the dedication to his work.
Liu Xiaobo possesses the bravery, outspokenness, and persistence all modern heroes need. He stands up against the Chinese Government, constantly demanding a democratic government. He serves as an example for all to follow for his dedication to a worthy cause. His undying dedication fuels his bravery and speech, which inspires others to do the same. His ability to continue to work bravely and unfearfully makes him worthy of his position as the Nobel Peace Prize winner of 2010 as he continues his peaceful protest. Heroes are defined by their strength, the strengths of modern day heroes are not defined by their physical strength but as the ability to make a positive impact. Liu Xiaobo certainly processes the potential to change the world as we know it as he continues to push China into a better future.
"Despite China Threats, Nobel Peace Prize Goes to Dissident Liu Xiaobo," Time http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2024405,00.html (October 8, 2010).
"Liu Xiaobo." Encyclopedia of Modern China. Ed. David Pong. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2009. Biography in Context. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.
"Liu Xiaobo: 20 Years of Activism." BBC News. N.p., 9 Dec. 2010. Web. 22 Mar. 2014.
"The Nobel Peace Prize 2010". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 23 Mar 2014.
Xiaobo, Liu. "I Have No Enemies:My Final Statement." Liu Xiaobo. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar 2014
- Liu Xiaobo's peace prize and information regarding his actions.
- An article written by TIME magazine about Liu Xiaobo
- A website with general information and many related documents