Saturday, March 22, 2008


I've been following the news from Tibet in the newspapers and on the TV and radio and wondering, as always, how to make sense of what is happening, how it will be resolved. I've also read posts from a few e-groups, many of which invite readers to sign petitions urging some sort of action on political leaders, or Governments.

I find myself in a quandary about such things, because petitions sometimes betray a highly polarised political position, and extreme political positions generate suspicion and mistrust in me rather than allegiance to the cause being promoted. So it is with petitions calling for people or Governments to 'boycott the Beijing Olympics' and such-like. I've seen them before (re the Moscow Olympics) at the height of the Cold War, and I mistrusted those too.

Although many commentators characterise the situation in Tibet as a simple matter of colonial oppression, an uprising against the uncompromisingly atheistic strictures of Chinese communism, there is good evidence that what the Tibetans are protesting against is the the incursion of the new Chinese experiment with capitalism, consumerism, materialism and greed; an experiment that is unwelcome to Tibetans as it is to the oppressed peoples of other parts of the developing world, in the sweatshops of India and of China itself.

Perhaps this is why Western Governments and the Western Media seem reluctant to criticise the Chinese. After all, the Chinese are the most recent, enthusiastic and successful 'converts' to the capitalist liberal market ideology that drives the West, and is probably going to drive us all to extinction. Many of us are already so tranquillised by the spate of cheap consumer baubles manufactured by the Chinese and on sale in our High Streets and Malls that we pay little heed to the desperate plight of the planet, or to the great majority of its inhabitants.

So I take my lead, respectfully, from 'Gyalwa Rinpoche', HH The Dalai Lama himself. He advises us, on pain of his resignation from spiritual office, to eschew violence of any kind, avoid extremes of language including the agitation for unilateral boycotts, diplomatic withdrawal, or military excursions and engage in human dialogue. This is surely not only the 'right' way dharmically, but the only effective way to any reconciliation of views and aspirations between West and East, whose peoples are sisters and brothers to each other: all poor lambs going more or less unaware to our certain slaughter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A beautifully written piece on the situation. I too am suspicious about petitions feeling that they are merely scrap paper for the politician and there is a certain amount of easy of the conscience withour getting the hands dirty. In the age of email petitions it takes just seconds to complete the form and press send and then forget it every happened. I feel the same way about the many forwarded emails that I receive that are similar to the round robin letters of my youth (send this to 10 people and receive great happiness etc).
The unfortunate fact of the Tibet problem is that it has nothing of the slightest intestest to the west. No oil; minerals or anything worthy to protect or "fight" for and with China having 7 million persons under arms, no one will contemplate a physical fight with them.
So communisum succeeds by the back door of capitalism.
Thank you for not only this article but your blog, it hauls my mind away from being self centered and gives insight and often subject for meditaion

Tony W