Born free yet imprisoned to a catalsymic history

These days I feel like I have become a thorn. Not that I revolted against the CTA nor did I disrespected HHDL in any manner, shape or form. Honestly and with all sincerity, it is far fetched for me to even imagine to revolt against our own, when we have an enemy before us eating every piece of us day by day while we are here clawing and skinning each other off. 

We are born free yet imprisoned to a history that still ravishes on every Tibetan mind and yet some are able to brush it off gently like some Tibetan Buddhist would as a karmic misnomer. Having said that, sometimes, in fact many a times to think differently in our society could invite unwarranted hatred and outright malice. And I am not alone at this sickly brunt. I am sure there are many tibetans like myself feel tested, feel victimized. Some totally give up on our noble cause because they are not able to handle the smoldering organic criticism and intentional undemocratic abhorrence. Intolerance is not in the same sphere as tolerance that Buddhism teaches on a human aspect. 

My only fault is that I believe in what is right and dared to own and reclaim what was rightfully ours. The stories that were passed by my late parents and older generations alike, of the life they led before the invasion and the cataclysmic turn of fate is too raw and vivid for me to let it fade into obscurity. It will never be ok when I can feel the blades of our grasslands weep for help before they are being razed by the bulldozers of greed, of our pristine lakes choked dry and our earth yell for help before it is being raped repeatedly and sucked out of its life to the core.

If truth be told I can never see myself embracing an idea of being one with the Communist China. Even if Tibet far from the genuine autonomy that we are fighting for over three decades settle for something less to a closure to a cause, I will never go to Tibet as long as China’s communist venomous fangs are still intact. I would imagine that even the smallest numbers of Tibetan sympathizers living within mainland China would be spooked of such a prospect of being adopted by their parents, who they themselves consider murderous and barbaric.

For sure times have changed and so have our calls. I love this adage and so many citizen buy into it. But times are strange when you are cornered by your own for standing upright with the backbone of truth and far from being sold. 

In 1989, when HHDL was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the world was a different place except for America was still a super power. The western world amalgamated their empathy towards the Tibetan cause. Tibet was the Tesla of the tech world today. A darling and a symbol for activism for human rights like Tesla to the environment with their electric cars. It was also a time when democracy was slowly gaining momentum within the heartbeats of the Chinese liberal youths culminating to the Tinammen massacre. It was also a time when the Soviet Union collapsed and countries after countries were claiming independence. It was also a time when China was poor and weak, only strong enough to control helpless Tibet, a time when United States had yet to strategize their now failed policy in ushering China to the WTO and free trade. It was also a time when Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism became a trend like K-POP is now with the western world. 

From Rockers to Hollywood Directors, from Writers to Actors, Tibet became a cause to stand for and look cool. It was indeed a beginning of a golden decade of limelight for Tibetan campaigns. Tibet and everything related to Tibet and the Dalai lama became cool and appealing.”Free Tibet” if there were social media back then would have been the greatest hashtag. When I look back to that era of Free Tibet concert similar to the Live Aid Concert by greatest bands and groups on the universe for the cause of Tibet, a wasted era for us now, I seriously think something could have really happened for Tibet. China was still a third world country, its people starving and reeling from the unfazed effects of the Mao’s cultural revolution. Communism was fast failing and on shaky ground after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then when the gulf war started, the world’s antenna tilted away towards Iraq and the gulf region.

Although the pursuit of cult like craze for all aspect of Tibetan exoticism still remained intact with spiritual quest on Tibetan buddhism.  In the meantime, the Middle Way approach became the official policy of the Tibetan government in exile and surely all calls for independence were thrown out of the window except for that it stayed alive like an elephant in the room that nobody wanted to talk about but only feel its fluctuating pulse with every news of self immolation’s coming out of Tibet. 

Yet, I am told that regardless history will always remain the same no matter what, of Tibet being once a free country. Hypothetically, have you seen in a parallel universe such history of the native Americans that was being pulverized, the very people who once ruled the plains of America. Are their history being taught at the American schools. I am afraid not! It’s forgotten!

Yes..they sure do talk about systemic racism and civil rights, Rosa parks and Martin Luther, Frederick Douglass and slave trades but do they ever talk about the indigenous people of this land, the great Native American heroes and how their ancestors were systematically reduced to drug addicts and alcoholics by shoving them into the barriers of the reservations and inundating them with alcohols cheaper than water and tax free tobaccos. And thrown into cyclical dependence on social welfare. It’s a total hypocrisy! Their history is wiped out. What happened to their history. In fact the rightful owners of the land are chased down the south of the border and now they are building walls to stop them from coming in.

In conclusion, once you agree to become part of China as one happy ethnic minority, you also agree to walk and talk in their narrative too. Distortion of our history and sinicization of Tibetan language and scripts and acculturation of Chinese culture is already underway on a mammoth scale to systematically destroy the whole of Tibetan civilization. And to live in their narrative, Tibet is, was and will always be a part of China. That is too hard for me to digest. 

From George H.W Bush to Donald Trump, from 1989 to 2018, Tibet as an issue transformed from a cause of genuine concern to the thorny concern for many nations now. With their twisted moral compass, nations after nations that once stood for morality are kowtowing to growing China’s economic and political clout. 

We really need to push the reset button of our political movement. Institutionalization of the Tibetan movement has only added mileage for personal gains and weakened our political voice. Use of Tibet and Dalai Lama’s name has made many millions. They have banked and profited on our tragedy. Enough is enough. We really need to wake up now.

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Ugyen Gyalpo

Ugen Gyalpo is a guest contributor from Woodside, New York

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