When Aung San Suu Kyi was released on Nov 13, 2010, she told the press and her supporters that she had no hatred for the regime that had imprisoned her for much of the past two decades.
When in 2009 Liu Xiao Bo was about to be sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment by the Beijing court, he affirmed that he had no enemies in his ‘final statement.’
I believe both of them were speaking their minds. And I think I can understand why neither of them harbours anger or hatred or hostility towards the people who have put them behind bars for long periods simply because they were calling on the governments to give the people the freedom and democracy which they are entitled to. Non-violence and non-hatred is what any true humanitarian activist would uphold. Political opportunists would only care about winning, about overthrowing the current administration. But true humanitarian activists strive for genuine freedom and democracy. And to have genuine freedom and democracy, it is not enough to replace one form of power with another form of power. It requires that we, that is, every one of us, truly respects each other’s value, and cares for each other’s wellbeing. The kind of freedom and democracy that is founded on everyone’s respecting everyone else’s value and wellbeing is the most lasting and valuable kind. Humanitarian activists see the evil side of those with totalitarian power; they also see the frailties in most of us, in that the majority of human beings have a subconscious addiction to power, so that if they are not careful, and if they overthrow a regime with hostility and hatred, one day they may simply become the ‘enemies’ that they have ousted.
In the end of the Animal Farm by George Orwell, the animals (i.e., ordinary folks) see that the pigs (i.e., the revolutionaries who have tried to displace those with power) and humans (i.e., those with dictatorial power) are playing cards together, and they can’t tell the difference between them. This is a good reminder for all of us.
What should we do then? Speak out if we have to. But more importantly, let us learn to conduct our daily lives with genuine respect and concern for each other. One day, when every human being on earth lives on that fundamental principle, there will be no place for totalitarian governments. Let us teach and learn from each other by example. Let us stick to non-violence and non-hatred when fighting for freedom and democracy. Let us refrain from abusing either linguistically or physically those we oppose.
When we can do that, then we will have true power. And then, true freedom and democracy.
(To listen to my readaloud of “I have no enemies: My final statement” by Liu Xiaobo, go to: http://paulreadsaloud.podomatic.com/player/web/2010-12-16T05_52_04-08_00