Love dissipating hate - the life and death of Liu Xiaobo

I woke up this morning to the sad news that Liu Xiaobo had died. I recall hearing about this activist for the first time recently as news of the progression of his liver cancer spread and still the Chinese government refused to allow him to leave prison and receive treatment outside of the country.

Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia
Photo by: Ng Han Guan/AP

The brilliant author and intellectual was abroad during the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests of 1989 and decided to return to his country and be part of the uprising, despite all the risks. He played a key role in being one of the "four gentleman" who launched a hunger strike in support of the students and then helped to negotiate a peaceful exit from the square for remaining demonstrators amid the bloody crackdown. This incident got him his first nomination for the Nobel peace prize.

Ten years later three hundred Chinese intellectuals and activists were poised to publish Charter 08, a political manifesto calling for peaceful political reform in China. Xiaobo had not initiated it, but co-authored it, gathered signatures for it and, say friends, volunteered to take the fall hoping his international fame would spare him too harsh a punishment.

On Christmas Day 2009, a strategic date chosen to minimise international media coverage, Xiaobo was jailed for 11 years for inciting subversion. In 2010 he was awarded the Nobel peace prize to which China's swift reaction was to place his wife, Liu Xia, a poet, under house arrest. She was isolated from the world, with no internet or telephone connection, in order not to be able to speak out about her husband and his condition. Still his in absentia acceptance speech for the Nobel, Xiaobo reaffirms his belief in love as the way to dissipate hate, and shows the expression of a forgiving and spiritually generous man, speaking kindly of the police, prosecutors and judges.

"I have no enemies and no hatred. None of the police who monitored, arrested, and interrogated me, none of the prosecutors who indicted me, and none of the judges who judged me are my enemies. Although there is no way I can accept your monitoring, arrests, indictments, and verdicts, I respect your professions and your integrity, including those of the two prosecutors, Zhang Rongge and Pan Xueqing, who are now bringing charges against me on behalf of the prosecution. During interrogation on December 3, I could sense your respect and your good faith.

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. That is why I hope to be able to transcend my personal experiences as I look upon our nation's development and social change, to counter the regime's hostility with utmost goodwill, and to dispel hatred with love."

As the end of the 11 year sentence was coming closer, the final blow came. Xiaobo discovered he was terminally ill, diagnosed with liver cancer. Despite international pressure for him to be treated abroad, the Chinese government rejected all efforts even though they finally allowed international doctors to fly in to treat him. But it was too late. The government had already done it's part in silencing and contributing to the death of this brave man.

Even more moving than the compassion and respect he felt even for those who judged him and incarcerated him, was the love he had for his second wife, some of which can be felt in his Nobel speech:

"The most fortunate experience of these past twenty years has been the selfless love I have received from my wife, Liu Xia. She could not be present as an observer in court today, but I still want to say to you, my dear, that I firmly believe your love for me will remain the same as it has always been. Throughout all these years that I have lived without freedom, our love was full of bitterness imposed by outside circumstances, but as I savor its aftertaste, it remains boundless. I am serving my sentence in a tangible prison, while you wait in the intangible prison of the heart. Your love is the sunlight that leaps over high walls and penetrates the iron bars of my prison window, stroking every inch of my skin, warming every cell of my body, allowing me to always keep peace, openness, and brightness in my heart, and filling every minute of my time in prison with meaning. My love for you, on the other hand, is so full of remorse and regret that it at times makes me stagger under its weight. I am an insensate stone in the wilderness, whipped by fierce wind and torrential rain, so cold that no one dares touch me. But my love is solid and sharp, capable of piercing through any obstacle. Even if I were crushed into powder, I would still use my ashes to embrace you.

My dear, with your love I can calmly face my impending trial, having no regrets about the choices I've made and optimistically awaiting tomorrow. I look forward to [the day] when my country is a land with freedom of expression, where the speech of every citizen will be treated equally well; where different values, ideas, beliefs, and political views ... can both compete with each other and peacefully coexist; where both majority and minority views will be equally guaranteed, and where the political views that differ from those currently in power, in particular, will be fully respected and protected; where all political views will spread out under the sun for people to choose from, where every citizen can state political views without fear, and where no one can under any circumstances suffer political persecution for voicing divergent political views. I hope that I will be the last victim of China's endless literary inquisitions and that from now on no one will be incriminated because of speech."

Revolutionary Love

I first heard of Valarie Kaur when a video of her speaking went viral on Facebook, in the beginning of 2017. This Sikh American civil rights activist speaks of an era of rage, of darkness, of not seeing each other as we truly are - brothers and sisters. She speaks passionately and eloquently about the spirit of ever rising optimism and a call for revolutionary love.

If you haven't done so, watch Valerie speaking on the last night of 2016, soon after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. This video has had over 4 million views on Facebook.

Valerie Kaur founded the Revolutionary Love Project that offers calls to action, tools, inspiration, and support to fight for social justice through the ethic of love. She is also the founder of Groundswell Movement, ta multifaith online organizing community for social justice. Valerie believes that "Love is not just a feeling but an action. Love is the commitment to extend our will for the flourishing of others, opponents, and ourselves. When we love even in the face of fear and rage, we can transform a relationship, a culture, and a country. Love becomes revolutionary. The way we make change is just as important as the change we make. In this dangerous new era, Revolutionary Love is the call of our times." I couldn't agree more.

You can read more and become a part of this movement here and here.

Love Tunnel NYC

A few years ago a dear friend and amazing photographer, Ruvan, started a love installation. Every 14th of February, Valentine's Day, he puts up pictures on the wall of a subway station in New York. They are pictures of what he feels are representations of love - couples kissing, nature, moments of joy - and they intend on creating power and positivity through the appreciation of each other.

People who pass by are invited not only to observe these manifestations of love, but also to take a gift home: they are encouraged to take a print and keep it for themselves or share with someone they love.

by @bfeigon

by @bfeigon

Ruvan has been collecting pictures of people kissing for some time now. Last year he invited friends and family over to his studio to photograph them kissing for this very installation. My picture kissing didn't have the luck of being produced but I love the result of the spontaneous, messy kiss anyway ;-)

For its forth year, he decided to take the installation a step further. He's inviting photographers, lovers and humans to participate in the Love Tunnel by sending in their own photographs. All you have to do is to choose a picture that represents love to you, go to this link and upload it by clicking on Submit a Photograph. Your picture will be printed out and will become part of this year's Love Tunnel NYC installation. A simple gesture that shares love in times when we need it most.

 

 

 

Why We March

America and the world stood up together on January 21st of 2017 to show that we don't accept misogyny, bigotry, sexism, racism and so many other issues that we simply don't have room for in our societies anymore.

Here are some images that, to me, reflect the best of the Women's March.

Love is

Artist Puuung believes that love comes in ways that can be easily overlooked in our everyday lives. That's why she tries to find the meaning of love in our daily lives and transform it into art.

Her illustrations capture the beauty in the small things, in the interaction between two people. It sheds a poetic light on the value in our daily routine, but also on how powerful real touch and presence are.

She publishes new illustrations on Tuesdays and Fridays at Grafolio.com and Facebook

Facetime love <3

Facetime love <3

Rewarding everyday heroes

Today, we see new types of currencies being created to measure all sorts of previously "unmeasured" things such physical activity, how much you pollute the planet, how much online influence you have and so on. But, as of yet, no one has started to measure how good or kind people are.

At the same time, we see Millenials redefining heroism by having a more socially-driven attitude in their day-to-day lives and feeling empowered to change the world with their own hands. Topics like positive psychology become stronger and stronger and begin to show clues on how we can rethink the way we operate in order to obtain different results from the ones we have in our society today.

Luckily, a group of amazing people started a company that wants to measures good by creating the first index of kindness. A numerical scale based on collective intelligence that tracks and measures kindness in people and organizations. They've developed a network and an app that enables anyone to tag and reward people doing good, changing the way we thank each other and redefine heroism.

PersonalHeroes brings science to the conversation of Kindness by enabling people and organizations to measure their positive impact in the world via a mobile platform that leverages collective intelligence to rate and reward acts of kindness, creating a new layer of reputation for the sharing economy based on GOOD.

You can now download the app on the App Store and start recognizing and rewarding ordinary people for  extraordinary acts, helping to grow this amazing movement that brings out the best in each one of us.