Wed, Jan 22, 2020 - Page 8 News List

New award needed to honor allies

By David Pendery 潘大為

I have an idea that might add something positive to Taiwan’s diplomatic, governmental and legalistic affairs, and at a fundamental level promote the ideal of personal righteousness and prestige in people who have acted justly, conscientiously and, most of all, constructively in world affairs.

More on the world at large below, but to begin, I am thinking of those who view Taiwan itself as an honored and esteemed nation among the world’s peoples, and who have taken steps to recognize and endorse this reality, and introduce it to people everywhere.

I take this idea from the nation of Israel, which honors those who have protected Jews (primarily during the Holocaust) with the reverent praise of “Righteous Among the Nations” — recognition that has been granted to no less than 26,000 people to date. Among these heroes are the likes of Oskar Schindler, Raoul Wallenberg and Saint Elizabeth Hesselblad of Sweden. Truly a righteous group.

That which is “righteous” is reverent praise, recognition of virtuous and distinguished behavior at the highest level and, most importantly, awareness and acceptance of deep faith, support and simply help for those in need. (My idea stems from the Observer article “A very quiet hero: How a Japanese diplomat saved 6,000 Jews,” [Jan. 10, page 9] with its story of the amazing and courageous Japanese diplomat, Chiune Sugihara [a righteous among the nations], and his processing of the visas of thousands of Jews during World War II).

My hope is that Taiwan could create an award similar to the Israeli prize, recognizing those who have supported and reinforced all that is great about this nation, those who have helped and supported Taiwan on its long journey to self-understanding, freedom and its own brand of righteousness in world affairs.

Even now there is probably a list of such people who are acknowledged by the people and government of Taiwan, but I do not mean just anyone; not just those who are “Taiwan friendly” or have advocated Taiwan in affable, but often relatively cliche, rah-rah terms about all that is wonderful about Taiwan (any tourist in Taiwan who has enjoyed the people, food and scenery here would speak up this way).

I mean instead those who have genuinely supported, abetted and inspired Taiwan, endorsed change in word and deed, and who have truly embraced and sanctioned the nation’s march toward the realization of its democratic polity and commonwealth, which has received its own recognition and acclamation from states and peoples worldwide.

I think that at this point that Taiwan’s national awards such as the Order of Blue Sky and White Sun, the Order of the Brilliant Star, or the Order of the Cloud and Banner do not quite do the job, and we need something more universal, more inclusive.

Or perhaps this should be a relatively local award, for certainly Taiwan has not undergone anything like what the Jews went through during the Holocaust.

However, this is not to say that Taiwan has not suffered a lot over the years, with its lack of recognition by sister states; its struggle through colonizing and brutal totalitarian regimes; its continued abuse at the hands of China; and the threats directed at Taiwan.

It seems that in many respects, this nation has suffered persecution that has not been altogether different from the worst ravages and aggression that have tormented people in ages past.

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