Sunday, May 4, 2008

a conversation over dinner

I sat with Bhadur. It's a Nepali nickname for brave man. He deserves the name. He had a medal for bravery pinned to his chest for actions at the Battle of Tiger Hill versus Pakistan by Manhoman Singh himself. Several other Tibetans around my age sat with us as he spoke:

When we had our tea party the night before we left for the march, almost all of the old people said to be strong, help others and when you get to the border, kill a Chinese. They are our elders so we can't say anything but we know they have bad thinking. We grew up here and it's happy. We always heard about the bad things things that happened to them but we don't know what it's like. When His Holiness came and we saw him, he said "Tibetans have money and good jobs but they should not be happy. Their homeland is not under their control." This changed my thinking. He said everybody should do something for their country. He didn't say what. He is our religious leader but the NGO's are doing the politics.

Back to me talking: This is the first generation that questions the Dalai Lama politically. He has said as far back as '67 that it's up to the people of Tibet if they want the institution of the Dalai Lama to continue. Buddhism existed a long time before the Dalai Lama.

Currently, the Dalai Lama advocates the "Middle Way" approach where Tibet remains part of China but gets genuine autonomy inside their country. It probably was never a particularly popular idea but it didn't start receiving opposition until men like Jamyang Norbu began writing criticisms in the '80s. He became a pariah for quite awhile but now I hear many on this march disagree with the Middle Way and Chinese appeasement though always prefaced with a declaration of their love for His Holiness.

Here's an example of recent criticism by Patrick French, a former director of the Free Tibet campaign. More on Tibetan politics later.

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