The Empty Chair

During the holidays, an empty chair at the table usually signifies a passed family member or dear friend who was present the year before for the occasion.  It denotes a time of sadness in the light of the joy.

The empty chair in the picture is from the Nobel Award Ceremonies today.  It signifies more than a few moments of sadness.

The Empty Chair

As the Telegraph article states:

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2010 has been awarded to an empty chair, representing incarcerated Chinese dissident scholar and activist Liu Xiaobo.

Mr. Liu is the first recipient of the prize who has not been represented at the presentation ceremony personally or through his spouse since 1935, when it was given to the Carl von Ossietzky, an anti-Nazi journalist sent to a concentration camp for publishing news of Germany’s secret rearmament programme.

The Soviet Union had denied physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov permission to receive the award, but he was represented by his wife Elena Bonner.

Liv Ullmann, the prominent Norwegian actress, read out a statement made by Mr. Liu to a court which tried him for subversion in December, 2009.

“Hatred,” the statement read, “can rot away at a person’s intelligence and conscience.”

It warned that the “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 towards freedom and democracy.”


Of course, China has its own views of the Nobel Peace Prize and its winner. The link is below:

Is the Nobel Peace Prize is a political tool, a weapon; used to espouse a certain ideology?   Is the Nobel Prize Committee meddling in the political affairs of a sovereign nation?

One has to respect the views of the government of China.  One does not need to agree with those views.  To us Westerners we see a country with limited freedoms for its people.  However, from the Chinese point of view the Western philosophy of life is a very dangerous, corrupt ideology which China abhors.

I am reminded of someone else who wanted to change his government, but he was arrested, convicted and served prison time for his views about the need for political change.  His name was Nelson Mandela and in 1993, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Some white South Africans friends of mine were outraged by this award to a “political criminal, a terrorist” who should have remained behind bars in their opinion.

Countries do change.  Time does bring about its own revolutions.  A man sits in prison today as an anarchist, a terrorist and a criminal.  Given time, the man may be viewed as a saviour, hero and patriot by his own country.

I will leave you with some words from Nelson Mandela”

Thus shall we live, because we will have created a society which recognises that all people are born equal, with each entitled in equal measure to life, liberty, prosperity, human rights and good governance.

Such a society should never allow again that there should be prisoners of conscience nor that any person’s human rights should be violated.

Neither should it ever happen that once more the avenues to peaceful change are blocked by usurpers who seek to take power away from the people, in pursuit of their own, ignoble purposes….

This must be a world of democracy and respect for human rights, a world freed from the horrors of poverty, hunger, deprivation and ignorance, relieved of the threat and the scourge of civil wars and external aggression and unburdened of the great tragedy of millions forced to become refugees.

Acceptance Speech of the President of the African National Congress, Nelson Mandela, at the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony: Oslo, Norway. December 10, 1993.

Closing thought: Perhaps, one day before this century is over there will be no empty chairs because there will be people who have the freedom to sit in them without fear of oppression or imprisonment.  Hopefully, all governments of the world will respect and honor every citizen for their uniqueness and value to the human community.

G. D. Williams  © 2010