Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Please Stop Killing Yourselves!
The stories of self-immolations from Tibet are blood-curling and leave us all horror-struck. But are the public reactions to these suicides or attempts at suicide not just as shocking? All we do is use these sacrifices to attack the Chinese. There is no appeal to the compatriots in Tibet to please, please stop killing themselves for our greater good. Instead the public discussion focuses on the motivation why these mostly young people set themselves on fire.
We can argue till our mouths hurt that they set themselves on fire over “independence” and not “autonomy” or the other way round; we can also say it was for “altruistic” reasons and that they didn’t commit a “sin” in Buddhist terms; and the Chinese can argue until kingdom come that these were “illegal acts to disturb the social order”.
But all these discussions are perverse because they do not waste any words about the basic wrongness of suicide. Our silence gives Tibetan society a fundamentalist touch: We accept violent suicide as a justifiable act.
Is this really the message we want to send to young people in Tibet? That it’s “heroic” to violently kill yourself for idealistic reasons? Is it okay for the political groups on the Tibetan side to use them as cannon fodder to advance their political aims?
If the politicians and activists among us are unable to bring themselves to speak out against suicide, shouldn’t at least our religious leaders take up position? Isn’t it their responsibility to persuade our young that killing yourself is not what’s required?
Where is everyone?
Where is the Dalai Lama? Where is the Karmapa? Where is the Sakya Trizin? Why for Buddha’s sake are our religious leaders silent? Please speak to the people in the homeland that you do not approve of this act. Please tell them that we Tibetans must survive. Not speaking out against the self-immolations means tacit agreement. Blaming the Chinese and lobbying for Western support over these acts while not speaking out against them means tacit agreement.
It is our responsibility to do anything it takes to prevent compatriots from committing suicide for Tibet’s greater good. Would we ever tolerate if our kids intended to do that? Along the very same lines, we must discourage the young in faraway Tibet from killing themselves for the sake of our country. This is not the way to go.
People in Tibet know this is not the way to go. On High Peaks Pure Earth some of their voices are translated. They express what many people there feel: No matter how difficult the situation, “do not offer your body, the base of the mind, as a butter-lamp offering”.
Whatever the intention behind the self-immolations, it remains a misguided and wrong act. We must speak out against suicide. Tibet does not ask its people for a blood sacrifice. She needs each and every one of us to stand by her side – alive!
Om Mani Padmé Hum
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