2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo (right)
and his wife Liu Xia (left)
Last week about this time I was watching the live coverage of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Did you happen to catch it? It was moving. Apparently CNN International does a live interview with the recipient immediately after they receive their prize. China did not allow this year's recipient, a Chinese citizen, to travel to Oslo to receive his prize (note to Communist Central Committees - anytime your decision puts you and Adolf Hitler in the same historical footnote, you might want to consider alternative viewpoints before making the final call).
CNN International was left to use their entire Nobel Peace Prize interview hour to discuss with various people what human rights are like in China. If you were watching, like me, did you come to the same conclusion that all of us really know nothing of what is going on in China?
CNN International mentioned that the People's Republic employs 50,000 people just to keep the Internet censored at all times. It made me think about how many goods I purchase from China (especially since every country's manufacturing seems to have been farmed out there) and how little these purchases reflect my values if they are being manufactured in a tolitarian state. The first step in addressing a problem is awareness.
It impressed me that despite all of its economic power, the majority of the world would not be bullied into ignoring the ceremony based on China's demands. It impressed me that Norway is charged with administering the Nobel Peace Prize because Alfred Nobel admired that Norway had never declared war on another country (check out their wealth indicators - peace pays). It impressed me that such a tiny, little country has found a way to capture the world's imagination, to get people like me to slow down for an afternoon, and to consider where we as a species are going. Norway, there is nothing small about your ideas.
To honor the Norweigan people for their ability to be the thought leaders of the world on the subject of peace, I want to do my small part today and share something I never heard of or read until I moved to Europe. It is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights created by the United Nations 61 years ago.
Get a cup of coffee, take a few moments, and ask yourself if your country measures up on every article. Did you even know this Declaration existed? Did you even know that some of these items were your rights as a human being as decided by the peoples of the Earth? Were you surprised by any of the human rights declared? I was surprised by Article 16, the whole section on marriage and family.
How can we as individuals move our global leaders closer to honoring these rights rather than ignoring them? Do you feel your own country is delivering on these globally universal human rights?