I’m in Chicago, working on my novel and some short stories and preparing for my reading at PCA/ACA next week while my wife attends an important Intellectual Freedom committee meeting with ALA. I plan to post about my pop-culture conference in San Fransisco, so I had intended to spend this week posting a preview of sorts, writing about my revision process and what I am doing to prepare for my presentation.

Instead, I find myself in tears.

I don’t like using this blog as a political platform, in part because I allow my students to read it and I don’t like propagating my political beliefs via this blog any more than I would do in my classrooms; I believe both should be open and available to the free exchange of ideas, which requires if not my silence then at least some semblance of my neutrality.

But I can remain neither silent nor neutral on this issue, and I feel I must share my thoughts here as I did when writing about similar anti-protest crackdowns in Burma just a few months ago.

For those readers — especially my students–who are unfamiliar with this news I’m referring to, here are some links:

I was (slightly) relieved to read yesterday that Prince Charles is planning to boycott the Beijing Olympics in protest over China’s Tibet policies–and that he’d announced that decision before the demonstrations. Talk of boycotting the Olympics is spreading, and I’d like more world leaders to step forward in this form of protest, because, as the Olympic Games are designed to represent the possibilities of human cooperation and friendly competition, it seems a travesty that this Olympiad’s events are taking place in so disharmonious a nation as China. If ever we needed a better demonstration of that travesty, the tragedies unfolding during these brave Tibetan protests are it.

Yet I am dismayed that the situation in Tibet has reached this point. (Full disclosure: I am a practicing — if poor — Buddhist of the Tibetan Mahayana tradition, and, having attended teachings from His Holiness and intending to attend more this summer, I consider myself one of his millions of students.) His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, who is the exiled but beloved leader of the Tibetan people, has long called for what he calls the “Middle-Way approach,” resisting these sorts of violent protests and insisting on dialogue and compromise. While the Chinese government has for years claimed the Dalai Lama is a “separatist” causing unrest in the interest of Tibetan independence, His Holiness has remained steadfast in his insistence that he only wants autonomy within and with cooperation with the broader Chinese government system, in the interest not of preserving Tibetan nationalism or Independence but of preserving Tibetan religious beliefs and Tibetan culture (which the Chinese are systematically trying to stamp out). In his speeches on the situation in Tibet, His Holiness has consistently called for patience and compassion, which has frustrated a lot of young Tibetans who find patience difficult and resent the Dalai Lama’s “passive” (he would say “pacifist”) approach, and these riots, I fear, are the result of those young Tibetans’ pent-up frustrations bursting loose. This is not what the Dalai Lama wants, and it is not in the best interest of the Tibetan people.

Nevertheless, now that the violence has erupted, I think we need to make what good of it we can by calling attention to the frustrations of Tibetans and to the brutality of Chinese policy regarding Tibet. Through that, I hope, we can most quickly restore peace and begin the more productive process of restoring Tibetan autonomy and Tibetan cooperation with China. But to do this, we cannot relax our attention. So please, anyone reading this, try to stay on top of this story, these events, this long-standing political situation, and speak out — call or write our own government, which only several months ago awarded the Dalai Lama a special medal of recognition, and demand that we increase our pressure on China to show restraint in their dealings with Tibet and, ultimately, to work with the Dalai Lama to find the most beneficial compromise for everyone.

In the meantime, here is the official statement from His Holiness the Dalai Lama: http://www.tibet.net/en/ohhdl/statements/10march/2008.html.

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

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