One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice – though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. “Mend my life!” each voice cried. But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do – determined to save the only life you could save.
Im Hofe steht ein Pflaumenbaum, Der ist so klein, man glaubt es kaum. Er hat ein Gitter drum, So tritt ihn keiner um. Der Kleine kann nicht größer wer’n, Ja – größer wer’n, das möcht’ er gern! ‘s ist keine Red davon: Er hat zu wenig Sonn’.
Dem Pflaumenbaum, man glaubt ihm kaum, Weil er nie eine Pflaume hat. Doch er ist ein Pflaumenbaum: Man kennt es an dem Blatt.
The Plum Tree
In the courtyard stands a plum tree, It’s so small, no one believes it. It has a fence around it, So no one can stomp on it. The little tree can’t grow, Yes – it wants to grow! No one talks about it; It gets too little sun.
No one believes it’s a plum tree Because it doesn’t have a single plum. But it is a plum tree; You can tell by its leaf.
At the occasion of the 30th remembrance the 1989 Tainanmen Square Massacre and anarte documentary about Liu Xiaobo, I had a look at his bio and the famous charter 08.
One of his quotes – when he was criticizing the Western societies still resonates in my head. After a stay in New York, Xiao came to the conclusion that China needs to develop a very own concept for China`s society because the Western societies have got their own weaknesses. Xiao noticed that Western people are suffering from a lack of freedoms as well. Instead of being restricted by an authoritarian one-party system, the Western people are not free due to their continued strive for prestige, consumption, income generation, self optimization and competition. Due to intense economic and social pressures, Xiao regarded the people in the West as unfree as well.
In my view, his critics is justified – in Western countries achievements like democracy, separation of powers, welfare, environmental protection, minimum living standards are at risk.
No reason to feel superior, I thought when I read the Charter 08 issued by Chinese intellectuals in 2010 that summarize 19 demands for change (see below). Sadly, I came to the conclusion that we could sign the Charter08 as well….and the number of claims, we share with Chinese dissidents is increasing year by year if we are honest to ourselves.
Looking at China again, I wonder if Chinese are clamped between their own desire for consumption & prestige and an authoritarian government same time…?
However, I do not expect any state reforms as long as the Chinese government is able to keep its promise of continued growth and wealth. Freedoms and political diversity and participation seems to be low priority in China.
LIU XIAOBOaka “The Chair”
Liu Xiaobo (Chinese: 刘晓波, 28 December 1955 – 13 July 2017) was a Chinese writer, literary critic, human rights activist, philosopher and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who called for political reforms and was involved in campaigns to end communist one-party rule in China. Some referred to him as “China’s Nelson Mandela.” He was incarcerated as a political prisonerin Jinzhou, Liaoning. On 26 June 2017, he was granted medical parole after being diagnosed with liver cancer and he died on 13 July 2017.
Liu Xiaobo`s name and nick name “The Chair” (with reference to his empty chair during his Nobel prize ceremony) are in China forbidden and all his writings including several boxes of documents, written during his 9 yrs in jail, disappeared.
Liu rose to fame in literary circles in 1980s with his literary critiques and he eventually became a visiting scholar at several overseas universities. He returned to China to support the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and was imprisoned for the first time from 1989 to 1991, again from 1995 to 1996 and yet again from 1996 to 1999 for his involvement in the democracy and human rights movement. He served as the President of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, from 2003 to 2007. He was also the president of Minzhu Zhongguo (Democratic China) magazine since the mid-1990s.
On 8 December 2008, Liu was detained due to his participation with theCharter 08 manifesto.
He was formally arrested on 23 June 2009 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”. He was tried on the same charges on 23 December 2009, and sentenced to eleven years’ imprisonment and two years’ deprivation of political rights on 25 December 2009.
During his fourth prison term, Liu was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”
Liu wrote a statement, entitled “I have no enemies”, intending for it to be read at his trial. He was never given the right to speak. The essay was later read in the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, which Liu was unable to attend due to his imprisonment.
In the verdict, Charter 08 (see below) was named as part of the evidence supporting his conviction. John Pomfret of The Washington Post said Christmas Day was chosen to dump the news because the Chinese government believed Westerners were less likely to take notice on a holiday.
” China’s political reform … should be gradual, peaceful, orderly and controllable and should be interactive, from above to below and from below to above. This way causes the least cost and leads to the most effective result. I know the basic principles of political change, that orderly and controllable social change is better than one which is chaotic and out of control. The order of a bad government is better than the chaos of anarchy. So I oppose systems of government that are dictatorships or monopolies. This is not ‘inciting subversion of state power’. Opposition is not equivalent to subversion.”
— Liu Xiaobo, 9 February 2010
Instead of demanding a Westernization Liu Xiaobo encouraged crticial thinking and creativity to develop an own concept of the future China society. He explained…
Use Western civilization as a tool to critique China.
Use my own creativity to critique the West.”
Charter 08 is a manifesto initially signed by 303 Chinese dissidents interlectuals and human rights activists.
It contains the following demands for change…
1. Amending the Constitution. 2. Separation of powers. 3. Legislative democracy. 4. An independent judiciary. 5. Public control of public servants. 6. Guarantee of human rights. 7. Election of public officials. 8. Abolition of the hukou system. 9. Freedom of association. 10. Freedom of assembly. 11. Freedom of expression. 12. Freedom of religion. 13. Civic education. 14. Free markets and protection of private property, including privatizing state enterprises and land. 15. Financial and tax reform. 16. Social security. 17. Protection of the environment. 18. A federated republic. 19. Truth in reconciliation.