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rooftop of the world

16 March 2008 no comment

The lead story today (at least at the moment) on CNN is about the recent violence that has left scores of people dead in Tibet (link to article). This is not really news to anyone familiar with the history of Communist China since the “Cultural Revolution” – since 1959, China has asserted violent control over the Tibetan region. Historically, the bulk of Tibetan land has indeed been under Chinese authority for some time. PRC policy, however, has been anything but benevolent. The Dalai Lama (spiritual leader of the Tibetan people) has a standing arrest warrant simply for existing. Violence in Tibet since the 1959 imposition of control has been resistive, much in the way that it was in the U.K. in Ireland, in South Africa under Apartheid, and the United States during colonization and westward expansion.

A careful analysis gets to the root of the cause – Buddhism is incompatible with Chinese Communism. Indeed, the Dalai Lama has himself submitted that Chinese rule is not necessarily objectionable (link to interview); it is the freedom which China denies to its people that is missing. What the West offers to citizens is the unparalleled ability to speak out (if not also an imperative to do so) – regardless of one’s opinion of the war in Iraq, there are those who must speak out against it. There would be no balance if dissent was squelched. Yes, the cacophony inevitable in such a society is distracting; the noise serves as a “fitness routine” to assist those who would take advantage of the West’s freedoms to actively filter the incoming information in order to hone their own intellectual acuity.

“Freedom To” and “Freedom From” are incompatible. I do not want to be evangelized by Christians (quite frankly, you as a Christian do not want to try). However, I understand that, for me to encourage a free society, there is a level at which I must submit to their right to do so. To demand otherwise is abridgment of their own freedom. If a government can make a moral decision, this is something China must do – let the “Party” denounce Buddhism as just another opiate; let the government insure that its people – history laid aside – are allowed and encouraged to involve themselves in that which means most to them, and indeed strengthens the very fiber out which the cloth of the nation is woven.

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