Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tibet: Rangzen Or The Middle Way

 For many years I have said that only Tibetan independence can serve as a safeguard for the preservation of our heritage, culture and national identity. Talk of “autonomy” masks a sad defeatism and an acceptance of the inevitability of China swallowing our country; it is unworthy of the descendants of the great Emperors (tsenpo) who made Tibet a powerful and enlightened state. I call on all Tibetans to join us and our brothers and sisters in Tibet, in the pure and sacred struggle to free our country -
Thubten Jigme Norbu / Taktser Tulku
Former Abbot, Kumbum Monastery
Professor Emeritus, Indiana University, USA
23 November 2001

The annual raising of the Tibetan flag over the Guildhall in Northampton is due to take place in March. Every year, in a ceremony organised by local people and attended by the Mayor, speeches are made about the continuing horror unfolding in Tibet; songs are sung, and then the Tibetan flag is raised outside the nineteenth century Gothic-style building. The local paper takes pictures. The people in attendance wave miniature Tibetan flags.

It's a nice ceremony, and you feel good attending it - especially because you know you wouldn't be able to do the same thing in Chinese-occupied Tibet. The question is, does it help? or is it just, as Bob Dylan once said about protest music, a personal (and rather self-righteous) act of disassociation?

I went last year. You can probably read about it in the Suffolk Punch archives, if you have nothing better to do. Then, fired up by the spectacle of the Tibetan flag flapping high up in the wind over a busy street as it should do in Tibet, I formed a Tibet group on Facebook, which most of the people who came to the Guildhall joined.

Unfortunately, joining a Facebook group was all most of them were prepared to do. Assuming, naively, they would be behind me, I wrote a manifesto for the group promising non-violent action against politicians, businesses and institutions (like Northampton University) who maintained close associations with China when people were dying in Tibet. I said we would embarrass them publically. Bombard them with emails. Protest outside their buildings.

And within hours the people in the Facebook group began quitting in their droves.

I don't doubt that the majority of those people earnestly want to end the suffering in Tibet. The problem, as I have since realised, is that the power behind the annual ceremony is an uncritical follower of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, whose strategy of patience, of attrition, of good faith in the ultimate kindness and wisdom of the Chinese Communists, has helped to perpetuate the holocaust in his country. The Dalai Lama doesn't even seek independence from China. Speaking on behalf of his people on his own website, he calls the imagined national disinterest in this "a historical fact". Despite the colonisation of Tibet, the arrests, the torture, the forced sterilisations, the self-immolations, the stripping of Tibet's natural resources, His Holiness persists in the belief that his people can live autonomously under the Chinese.

As I have said before (and as a Buddhist I take no pleasure in thinking it) that view is either naive or stupid. But the organiser of the Guildhall ceremony and the many people who cluster around her are ardent admirers of the Dalai Lama like almost everybody in the West. He is a charming, intelligent man and to some extent he meets our Orientalising need for a quirky little Eastern guru to replace our discredited Popes and Archbishops.

What they are about, the Guildhall people, is seeking solutions that satisfy all. Asking our politicians to talk to their party leaders who in turn gently persuade the Chinese to change. They are about the right prevailing because it is right and everybody being good deep down. They don't want action. They don't want antagonism. Which is all very well when you live a comfortable middle class life in England. Or a comfortable 'simple' monk's life in India.


Surprisingly, the Guildhall ceremony organiser has invited me back this year with a note that says, "Sorry about the misunderstanding." But the misunderstanding was on my part, not hers. I didn't have as clear a picture then of where the fault lines lie in the Free Tibet movement. They are prepared to wait another sixty years for it, so it seems, while weeping big salty tears over the names of the dead, and I'm not.

So I won't be going to the flag raising, although I hope they have a nice day. Frankly, I'd do just as much good for the people of Tibet by staying in bed. Not that my own more direct and cantankerous action in the past year has helped a hell of a lot. They're still burning their own bodies to get someone to listen. And universities are still making big sums of money by nestling down in the lap of the Communist killers.


ninest123 said...

louis vuitton, christian louboutin outlet, ugg boots, prada outlet, longchamp outlet, kate spade outlet, nike free, nike air max, oakley sunglasses, ralph lauren pas cher, burberry, longchamp outlet, nike outlet, oakley sunglasses, michael kors, louis vuitton outlet, ray ban sunglasses, louboutin, louis vuitton, ugg boots, louboutin shoes, oakley sunglasses, replica watches, sac longchamp, louboutin outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, uggs on sale, cheap oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet, replica watches, longchamp pas cher, ray ban sunglasses, tiffany and co, polo ralph lauren outlet, tiffany jewelry, longchamp, air jordan pas cher, tory burch outlet, jordan shoes, nike roshe run, gucci outlet, chanel handbags, air max, louboutin pas cher, prada handbags, nike air max, ray ban sunglasses, nike free, louis vuitton, oakley sunglasses

ninest123 said...

north face, true religion jeans, tn pas cher, oakley pas cher, michael kors, coach outlet, ralph lauren uk, michael kors, vanessa bruno, hollister, nike air max, true religion outlet, hermes, michael kors, coach purses, kate spade handbags, michael kors, michael kors outlet, nike air max, nike blazer, true religion jeans, converse pas cher, replica handbags, michael kors outlet, hogan, ugg boots, coach outlet, air force, mulberry, michael kors outlet, true religion jeans, burberry outlet online, new balance pas cher, ugg boots, north face, ray ban pas cher, hollister pas cher, burberry, michael kors outlet, nike roshe, ray ban uk, nike free run uk, sac guess, michael kors outlet, lacoste pas cher, vans pas cher, timberland, nike air max, abercrombie and fitch, lululemon

ninest123 said...

babyliss, insanity workout, mac cosmetics, hollister, converse outlet, hollister, valentino shoes, giuseppe zanotti, louboutin, reebok shoes, nike roshe, beats by dre, gucci, new balance, bottega veneta, nike air max, longchamp, soccer jerseys, north face outlet, ghd, nike trainers, chi flat iron, celine handbags, asics running shoes, jimmy choo shoes, nike huarache, lululemon, nike air max, ferragamo shoes, vans, wedding dresses, birkin bag, mcm handbags, mont blanc, abercrombie and fitch, baseball bats, instyler, ray ban, converse, oakley, p90x workout, timberland boots, iphone cases, north face outlet, hollister, herve leger, soccer shoes, nfl jerseys, vans shoes, ralph lauren

ninest123 said...

ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, supra shoes, barbour, pandora charms, montre pas cher, moncler, canada goose, canada goose outlet, lancel, louis vuitton, sac louis vuitton pas cher, moncler, pandora charms, swarovski crystal, wedding dresses, ugg boots uk, pandora jewelry, replica watches, moncler, canada goose uk, juicy couture outlet, coach outlet, links of london, canada goose, canada goose outlet, doudoune canada goose, canada goose, barbour jackets, bottes ugg, swarovski, moncler outlet, marc jacobs, moncler, louis vuitton, canada goose, hollister, toms shoes, moncler, ugg pas cher, moncler, karen millen, louis vuitton, pandora jewelry, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, moncler, louis vuitton, juicy couture outlet, thomas sabo