Our brothers and sisters all over the world our shouting from the tops of the mountains for freedom. There is a synergy that is happening all over the globe, people are striving for change in places like the Middle East and Africa.
It is an exciting time to be alive. We are witnessing people and whole communities that were once marginalized being empowered. People are working together to bring about positive change in their countries. There have been incredibly tense moments but it has been a time of hope in many places.
Attempts have even been made to start a "Jasmine Revolution" and shake up the system in my beloved China, though it has been less successful.
In fact, recently, one of my heroes was detained and has been incarcerated. Ai Weiwei is a legendary artist who is known the world over for his provocative works. Ai is the quintessential post-modern artist, always asking questions and never satisfied with the status quo.
He is one of the world's best known contemporary artists. A huge retrospective of his work was just featured at the Tate Modern in London and yet another show will be mounted soon in New York City. The international art community loves the man and his work.
So why is this man viewed as a criminal instead of a living treasure in his native China? The answer is easy: Ai Weiwei asks too many questions. He is provocative. He is also openly critical of the government of his country. (He is in fact openly critical of many governments around the world.)
Through his art, he asks questions that others are afraid to ask. In fact, the Chinese government refer to him as a "maverick." In the west, a maverick can be seen as a positive descriptor, associated with independent thinking, while in China, a maverick is seen as a troublemaker.
How can independent thinkers be valued in one society and scorned in another? It is hard to comprehend this difference in world-view.
A government incarcerating an artist is not unique in history. We can see countless examples of artists being disappeared because they were viewed as too radical or independent thinking by the establishment. In Cambodia, the first victims of the Khmer Rouge were artists and intellectuals. A huge number of artists were executed because their free thinking was seen as a threat to that dictatorship. It is terrifying when you think of cases like this.
How can people be so threatened by art?
As I have said many times before, I love China, the land and its people. I spent some of my most impressionable years in the Middle Kingdom and China will always be a part of me.
But this country that has given birth to great artists such as Ai Weiwei will have to recognize his greatness. Through his artwork, Ai is simply holding up a mirror to China and begging her to reflect and start to address critical questions.
I am an optimist and i believe in the power of art and the power of change agents such as Ai Weiwei.
The time has come, the time is now. Let the synergy take hold.
Naomi Yorke is a Port Coquitlam student who lived in Shanghai, China for four years, writing about her experiences twice a month for The Tri-City News. She now lives in Chicago, where she's attending art school, and continues her column.