Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pankaj Mishra on Dalai Lama

There is an interesting discussion about Tibet in the context of Globalization in the latest new yorker. I also found this quote by Hannah Arendt very perceptive and thought provoking:

“For the first time in history,” Hannah Arendt wrote in 1957, “all peoples on earth have a common present. . . . Every country has become the almost immediate neighbor of every other country, and every man feels the shock of events which take place at the other end of the globe.” Arendt feared that this new “unity of the world” would be a largely negative phenomenon if it wasn’t accompanied by the “renunciation, not of one’s own tradition and national past, but of the binding authority and universal validity which tradition and past have always claimed.”


Kubla Khan said...

I had written about Mishra's excellent "Temptations" essays last year. There is an essay there called "Tibet: A backward country". it is quite good.

sadly, in a world dominated by a unilateral alliance that has assumed bibilical morality and an evangelical ideology, people like the tibetans or the chechens or others are now forgotten. any genuine self assertion or call for freedom or independence is dumped under the banner of terrorism.

India has long given refuge to the Dalai Lama.Does it change things now?( no one dare touch the chinese now, ha....shanghai communism shines!)

Alok said...

Yes I remember reading it. It was an excellent summary of the book...

He is very well-read and a sensitive writer-thinker even if sometimes a tad predictable. I like the way he connects the Tibet issue with globalization in the modern world in this essay... There is another form of "cultural genocide".. local culture and cultural diversity are being threatened everywhere. the means may be "softer" but the outcome is the same.

India and China are of course growing world "superpowers".. they obviously don't want these small things to distract them from their goals! :)

Alok said...

for readers of this blog I am linking your essay on Mishra's book here.

Szerelem said...

Thanks for the link Alok - it's a very well written and thought provoking article. I find it so shocking and distasteful the way the Chinese attack the Dalai Lama - without realising that he is probably the only person trying to hold the Tibetans back from violence.
As a friend of mine said in disgust they just go on and on with their abuseof him - it's not that they stop at calling him a fucker but also a sister fucker, mother fucker and on and on.
It's also pretty amazing that the Chinese never expected the current situation in Tibet. Not being petty or anything but I really hope the Olympics fall flat - even if they are not boycotted, though I do hope they are.

India's attitude hasn't caused much comfort either. First we totally failed to condemn the military in Burma and now the Chinese in Tibet. I really don't know what moral high ground we can claim to have.

As an aside, I have been lucky to have two private audiences with the Dalai Lama and he is just the most wonderful, charming, gracious and unassuming person possible. I think he just encompasses everything that is the best of humanity. My heart bleeds for him given the situation he finds himself in.

puccinio said...

From Misra's Essay,
It is hard to see the Dalai Lama bringing about mutual understanding in the world at large when he has failed to bring it about between China and Tibet. Such, however, are the advantages of being a simple Buddhist monk that he is less likely—indeed, less able—than most politicians to compromise his noble ends with dubious means, even as he, following the Buddha’s deathbed exhortation, diligently strives on.

So he should compromise and pit his small country's very small population against war with a Nuclear power and pretty much th only nation on the UN Security Council that can veto U.S.A.?

That might be "honorable" but it'll destroy Tibet already so hammered beyond all recognition. In any case the Dalai Llama is understanding enough to realize that the Chinese people do not all share the Chinese government's policy and is very generous and kind to the diaspora Chinese writers he meets abroad.