Here's a December 2009 statement from Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobao, the recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
Read it and weep. And then honor his sacrifice by doing something today to expand peace and freedom.
I have no enemies, and no hatred. None of the police who monitored, arrested and interrogated me, the prosecutors who prosecuted me, or the judges who sentence me, are my enemies. While I'm unable to accept your surveillance, arrest, prosecution or sentencing, I respect your professions and personalities…..
I firmly believe that China's political progress will never stop, and I'm full of optimistic expectations of freedom coming to China in the future, because no force can block the human desire for freedom. China will eventually become a country of the rule of law in which human rights are supreme. I'm also looking forward to such progress being reflected in the trial of this case, and look forward to the full court's just verdict ——one that can stand the test of history.
Ask me what has been my most fortunate experience of the past two decades, and I'd say it was gaining the selfless love of my wife, Liu Xia. She cannot be present in the courtroom today, but I still want to tell you, my sweetheart, that I'm confident that your love for me will be as always. Over the years, in my non-free life, our love has contained bitterness imposed by the external environment, but is boundless in afterthought. I am sentenced to a visible prison while you are waiting in an invisible one. Your love is sunlight that transcends prison walls and bars, stroking every inch of my skin, warming my every cell, letting me maintain my inner calm, magnanimous and bright, so that every minute in prison is full of meaning. But my love for you is full of guilt and regret, sometimes heavy enough hobble my steps. I am a hard stone in the wilderness, putting up with the pummeling of raging storms, and too cold for anyone to dare touch. But my love is hard, sharp, and can penetrate any obstacles. Even if I am crushed into powder, I will embrace you with the ashes….
I hope to be the last victim of China's endless literary inquisition, and that after this no one else will ever be jailed for their speech.
Freedom of expression is the basis of human rights, the source of humanity and the mother of truth. To block freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, to strangle humanity and to suppress the truth.
I do not feel guilty for following my constitutional right to freedom of expression, for fulfilling my social responsibility as a Chinese citizen. Even if accused of it, I would have no complaints.
Strangely, this year's inspirational choice makes last year's selection of Barack Obama even more of a joke, the sort of international gadflying that has helped diminish the struggles of countless millions (billions?) around the globe.
In 2003, on the occasion of Reason's 35th anniversary, we named the anonymous Tiananmen Square "tank man" martyr one of our 35 Heroes of Freedom, noting "By putting his life on the line in front of his government's tanks, he provided not only one of the most memorable images of the last 35 years but one of the most inspiring too. The free China of the future owes him a statue or two." And, needless to say, Liu Xiaobao as well.
Some years back, I had the incredible and undeserved honor of introducing another one of our heroes of freedom, 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug, who literally saved billions of people from starvation by developing high-yield crops and, more important, making sure that they were distributed throughout the developing world (read Ron Bailey's amazing interview with him here).
People like Borlaug and Liu Xiaobao should remind us not only that individual actions and ideas can and do make a huge difference but that we all owe them a massive debt for the inspiration they provide and the possibilities they create.