Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 14:07 PM EDT, 27 December 2009
CHINA - This blog addresses many issues regarding human rights and seeks to encourage the reader to act even if it is through sharing a post or video. Somewhere in the world today, some person or group of people are being treated inhumanely. We blithely read about such abuses, but we live in a society where we can insulate and anesthetize ourselves to their suffering.
It is true that sometimes all of the evil and hatred in the world seems ubiquitous and insurmountable, and the natural human reaction is to shrink away and adopt a protective sphere around family and personal friends, or to remain silent and bury one's head like the proverbial ostrich. These however are not the only choices available to us.
In Christianity,, the spoken word is accorded with reverence because of the creative power inherent in thought, which leads to spoken communication, which leads to action otherwise known as creation. It is a simple concept, but in our current world where spiritual, faith-based, intangible concepts are under attack as being childish and atavistic, the need to control our thoughts and words and thus what we creatively manifest is of the utmost importance and urgency.
In the recent past, we have had many great souls stand up on behalf of humanity, however, just as many quietly but effectively work in the shadows and are never elevated onto the world stage. People like Nelson Mandela, Mohandas K. Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr. are notable and internationally recognized figures. Now Liu Xiaobo joins their ranks as one who is less known today, but who may in the future be the defining face of freedom of speech in China. Because of this Xiaobo was sentenced this past Friday to 11 years imprisonment by the Chinese government.
The video below was disseminated to Amnesty International supporters with instructions to share it with as wide an audience as possible. Although I am not an ardent supporter of the United Nations, because I feel it has not lived up to the ideals for which it was created; I also recognize that its ineffectiveness lies in its membership, which is composed of individuals who are representatives of governments and corporations with interests that are often contrary to human dignity and well-being. This does not, however, diminish the power of the dream, for in dreams are the realities of tomorrow.
The poem by Martin Niemöller, a Protestant pastor and social activist sums up the essence of this post, and will I hope provide you with a reminder that tyranny and abuse does not stop with its intended victim.
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When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.