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Friday, August 1, 2008

A monk's embrace: Marching for a free Tibet

By John Halverson

He pulls me toward him, folding me in his arms. My hand grips his bony back as he engulfs me in boundless warmth.

As our embrace loosens, his hands cup mine and he searches my face as though it were eternity.

His name is Palden Gyatso, but those who know him preface it with "Venerable."

I like, many Americans, maintain a healthy skepticism toward leaders of all kinds, especially those wearing vestments.

At a church in Elkhorn Thursday night the 77-year-old Buddhist monk told us, through a translator, stories of his 33 years as a political prisoner in Tibet and explained why he wants his nation free of Chinese rule (see related story).

But as someone who has grown up on made-up violence, one example of real-life evil sounded a lot like the next.

And then his ready smile, which had merely entranced me, turned into a tragicomic mask when he pulled the false teeth from his mouth while explaining that his real ones had been destroyed by torture.

His greatest fear, it turns out, was not physical, but that he might lose his faith. It never happened.

He doesn't hate his captors--only their policies.

Despite these telling stories and his sad-happy smile, I maintained my reporter's emotional distance until after his speech when I approached him for a handshake.

His unasked-for embrace made my 33 years of reporting experience no match for his 33 years of hell on earth.

And so it was that this 77-year-old Buddhist monk hugged new life into a common man whose name he didn't know, whose language he didn't speak, in a city thousands of miles from his home.

He made me feel like the only person in the room--an emotion, I'm sure, which I shared with everyone else who shared such a close encounter.

Can Tibet ever escape the clutches of the Chinese?

Until that moment, I was skeptical.

Then I realized that his home may be held hostage by a country so large, it can only be dwarfed by one thing.
Indomitable spirit.

The author is general manager of The Week.


Blogger veracity said...

Very aptly put, thanks for a very thoughtful piece.
People power is the force for good, opposing the might of the most depraved regime is a task which elevates the spirit above mundane resistance.

It is time for international intervention on the Tibet issue.
Politicians, form every country, and for five decades, have rung their hands in public over the atrocity of the illegal Chinese occupation, but never shown the least bit if courage to make a tangible impact.
Time is fast running out for Tibet under the perverse policies of the occupying Chinese.
Now time has come for righteous politicians from the so called civilized nations to bring this issue to the UN, and as a first step force China to accept at least some semblance of accepted international human rights standards, all of which they’re signatories to.

Every self respecting nation should immediately:

• Declare Tibet an occupied nation.
• Recognize the Tibetan Government in exile.
• Force China to cease its illegal occupation through intense, coordinated international pressure.
• Postulate the issue before the UN and bring about resolutions to the same effect.

The Dalai Lama’s good intentions are being exploited to the full by the CCP and made a mockery of, by resorting to puerile berating of his HH and questioning his legitimacy.

The legitimacy question is China’s alone.
This anachronistic, colonial and thoroughly racist empire is doomed to failure; they rose by, and just manage to hold onto power at the barrel of the gun.
Remove the gun, and with it evaporates their raison d'être, and their perceived ‘legitimacy’ arising from it.
Free Tibet now.


August 1, 2008 5:37 PM  

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