Every March 10, Tibetans and supporters of Tibetan freedom march to commemorate the Tibetan uprising that took place on that same day in 1959. That was also the day the Dalai Lama had to flee from Tibet to avoid arrest and imprisonment at the hands of Mao Tse-tung’s invading Red Army. Since then, at the hands of the Chinese regime, Tibetans have suffered nonstop brutality; arrests and imprisonment; torture; executions; theft of their land, national treasures and natural resources; ravaging of their environment; and repression of their language, culture and religion. More than 1 million Tibetans have been killed, approximately one-seventh of their population.
The Chinese government has repeatedly committed war crimes and violated every human-rights treaty in its treatment of Tibetans, all while the international community has stood by and talked the talk without walking the walk of condemnation.
The Chinese tell many untrue and halftrue colorful stories about Tibet to themselves and others to justify their deadly actions. They say that, “Tibet has always been part of China” or proclaim defensively, “Tibetans want to split up China.”
But the truth is that there’s nothing that the Tibetan people have done that justifies the horrors and killing.
In my view, failure to support Tibetans is tantamount to collaborating with the Chinese, and with totalitarianism in general. Therefore, every year at this time, I look forward to the opportunity to march with others and chant, “Shame on China!” But, I also march because of the many positive aspects of Tibetan culture and its people, including their Buddhist religion, values, peacefulness and renunciation of violence.
There aren’t many cultures in this world whose leaders would dare encourage their people to forgive their oppressors. But that’s exactly what the Dalai Lama has been asking Tibetans to do for decades, and they generally have followed suit. By contrast, such a request of Americans by any political leader, although in line with our professed Christian values, would result in defeat at the polls for the person and their party. Forgiving long-term, sustained brutality is definitely not in us and not in our souls, as a nation or as individuals. We see that as weakness or foolishness. Yet, it is an integral part of the peaceful, forgiving soul of most Tibetans, and I march with Tibetans to thank them for that.
Fortunately, millions of Westerners have embraced Tibetan values and adopted elements of Tibet’s centuries-old Buddhist culture. Tibetan views stressing mind over body, the unity of life and death, compassion towards others, working constantly at spiritual improvement, and individual responsibility for their inner person have been incorporated by those seeking inner peace and well-being, even when moving through clamorous lives. Thus, I march with Tibetans to thank them for that.
So, let’s support the “Tibetan within us all” by joining the March 10 rally. The rally commences at the Bennett Federal Building in downtown Salt Lake City, on the corner of 100 South and State, at 9 a.m. More information is available at UtahTibetanAssociation.org, and you can join the Utah Tibetan Association on Facebook to receive updates.
West Valley City