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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A minor action for Tibet

The people of Tibet have been under repressive Chinese rule for coming on 50 years. If you're not aware of the latest news, these historically peaceful people are beginning to riot to gain awareness of their plight--seems these days violence is the only way to get that coveted 1:40 spot on CNN (the longest broadcast spot not in a news magazine format).

I can do little, even as a freelance journalist and journalism teacher. I teach my astoundingly ignorant students. I try to write as much as I can. But I decided this time to take a page out of my father's book (Though I think he may have borrowed with citation from someone else, so I apologize for not being able to cite the original source ;). )

I've taken the time to design the .jpg attached here. Time, I jokingly say because all it is is the Tibetan national flag with the words "I am Tibet" photoshopped in. The print is light so you might be asked to explain. The print is light because I have decided to join a community that is pleading for help, but of which I am not "originally" a part.

But I would like to ask you to join as well. Print this out as a sticker, as a flyer, as a poster, as a pin, as a bumper sticker; whatever makes you most comfortable or happy. Then wear, post, bump, mail, email it. Share it with others. And when they ask why you "are Tibet" or what your message is, tell them. I cannot tell you your message. I will, however, tell you mine.

Tibetans are being "relocated" by the Chinese government. "Relocation" in my emotional and religious history is the first step to death camps. But death camps are so passe (unless you live in Africa). There really are so many better ways to truly destroy a people. Make them live somewhere outside their "home." Their children will learn Tibetan (for example) as a second language. They will learn Lhasa as a place to yearn for. They will learn Tibetan food as that wonderful stuff we can only cook when we get together. They will learn Tibetan art as something some guys in dresses do up in the mountains.

Those children's children will learn those lessons watered down even further.

Meanwhile, China is also moving Chinese (by force) into Tibet to create a Chinese popular majority in Lhasa. This helps the Chinese enforce a one china policy--which means Tibetans even in Tibet will learn Chinese before they learn Tibetan.

When the "relocated" Tibetans' childrens children return for some pilgrimage or other. When, a few generations down, someone finally decides they want to get back to "home," the "home" their grandparents ached for, talked of, wrote about, sung for, they will find the same place they left to climb the mountain.

If you don't believe this is possible--or you think I'm out of my mind--take a look around you. Israelis are unsure at times what Israel is--and fight religiously over religion. Palestinians have been taught to refuse to make peace so the Arab world can continue its hate campaign--and Israelis have been fighting back, though my generation is starting to wonder why.

Spaniards, Catalans, and Basque fight and sometimes kill each other, and harm each other's children (and always always always their own--apply that to all these fights) in a fight over who belongs where, whose land is whose, whose language is primary and whose art should be taught.

In Africa, Whites who "legally" purchased land from "illegal" colonizing forces aren't just being forced to leave the only land their families have known for generations--they're being murdered. And on the other side of that lose-lose fight, Africans who have been forced to live in an internal exile can't find the way back to their land-based traditions because they've been forced to live in ignorance, poverty, and violence for generations. AFRICA is the most resource rich continent on EARTH. It is also the poorest.

I can't fix these fights--even the one I'm part of. I ache for my Israel, even as I know it changes without me. I ache for the Palestinian friends I know whose families suffer as a corrupt Hamas and a macho-intent Israel fight each other without counting the real costs. I ache for my partner's family as they are treated poorly for being Spaniards in Catalan, and other parts of his family as they look down on the children coming out of Catalan with little or no Spanish (and little or no skills in a communication based world that doesn't use much Catalan).

I'm tired of aching.

I am all of these places.

I am all of these people.

But, today, I AM TIBET.

I ask you to join me in this quiet quest to raise some eyebrows. Maybe the force of our quiet joining of the Tibetan people will help this particular fight, this particular time, avoid immolation. Maybe it won't. Maybe it will help all of us in our own views of our own fights. Maybe it won't.

At the very least, it will help us all be teachers for a little while.

Thank you very much for having the patience to read this far. I hope you join us.

With love and wishes for peace,