Rangzen(Independence), it is.

I was reading something on news related Tibet recently and I see that the debate between Rangzen(Independence) and Middle Path(Autonomy) is still going on, and seems to be never ending. I also realised that I have never written specifically on this topic. So, I decided to write one and hope to sway some people from the other side and also to attempt to end the debate. Just an attempt.

The title of this post clearly shows which side I am on. Some say that this debate is not important, as we are all fighting for the same nation, but it is very sad and depressing when there is infighting between the Tibetans themselves instead of focusing their efforts on our common enemy (China). Middle Path supporters should mind their own business or at least focus on their work of resuming dialogue with China, as they continue with their wishful(magical) thinking that China will have a change of heart one day (maybe centuries later), apologise for their wrongdoings and come to a fruitful negotiations. I don’t ever see that happening as long as the world is run by greed and self interest, the main reasons for the invasion and then mute response from international community. The human race still hasn’t evolved to the higher state of mindset yet. We still have the same mindset and instinct from the primitive times. Only the time and tools(technology) has changed. The world is still ruled by bullies.

“Whether it is in the form of nations or in the form of communities or in the form of individual human beings – bullying is happening everywhere all the time. The strong lean on the weak in so many ways. It is still a caveman’s world of ‘survival of the fittest’ conducted in a more cunning manner, not straightforward.” Sadhguru from “Bullying in conflict with existence”.

That was bit off topic but still needed from my view. But Chinese gov’t will have a great time when they see us fighting among ourselves, as they don’t need to do anything. Seems like the Rangzen supporters have become the enemy akin to China in the eyes of Middle Path proponents, which is definitely not the right way of going about things. There is no united stand here. We cannot afford enmity between our own people as there is a bigger and common enemy occupying our nation. Lets not create more of our own problems to distract us with.

I’ve my reasons for supporting Rangzen. Before, I only had some general knowledge of our struggle and didn’t know much about the directions our struggle was heading into. I was indeed confused as I wasn’t sure which path I want to follow and I also thought that Dalai Lama wouldn’t introduce any policy without a thorough review and the use of his immense wisdom. Then one day(this was few yrs back), while I was reading a Phayul news, there was some debate going on in the comments section, and I was really struck by one comment which said that deep inside their heart, Tibetans yearn for independence, but they chose autonomy on the grounds of practicality or feasibility or logic. In short, independence in heart, autonomy in mind.

This comment was an eye opener or like a light bulb moment for me as I’ve always believed in following the heart. As children, we’ve always been told to dream big and not think about whether dreams can be achieved or not. We just have to give our all to achieve the dream, and leave the rest to fate or god.

We’ve to apply the same principle in everything that we do. We should do things that we want to do. Why do we give up on our dreams as we grow up and settle for less, for something more safe? Why don’t we strive to explore our full potential? Why do we give up on ourselves? Why should we give up on independence? Where there is a will, there is a way. There is a way to everything. You just have to find the will, the courage. Don’t play safe and settle for less.

As I recall a famous Tibetan activist, Lhasang Tsering, saying in one video years back on Tibetan struggle, “Where is it written that Independence for Tibet cannot be achieved or that independence is not possible?”. “Where is it written that middle way is the only way?”

Millions of Tibetan freedom fighters have died defending the country after 1959 Chinese occupation of Tibet. Also, more than 100 self immolations have been committed by brave Tibetans inside and outside Tibet by young and old, religious or lay people. What did they die for? Why are Tibetans continuously rising up and protesting in Tibet at the risk of their lives? Why are people in Tibet going to the extreme lengths to commit self immolations? All the brave Tibetan martyrs till now have certainly didn’t sacrifice their lives to live under the Chinese rule. Under the goal of autonomy, there would be no need to sacrifice lives as that would have been a waste.

The most demoralising aspect of our freedom struggle is its timidity as we are told by our own gov’t that we shouldn’t protest as it might hurt the chances for the dialogue or the negotiations. That is very depressing, as if they are serving the Chinese gov’t and not our own people. Who needs outside enemy if our own gov’t itself is acting like one. They are proving to be more of a hindrance than of help. This is a self defeating attitude and the Chinese gov’t don’t have to do much than watch us crumble on our own. We shouldn’t be making things easier for China. We’ve to do the opposite, so that they regret occupying our country Tibet ever. Our gov’t too can get lost in what is right and wrong. There is a limit to appeasement also.

As a Tibetan, I’ve full respect and devotion for Dalai lama, and my path of Independence is not intended to disrespect him. He stressed the importance of logic in Buddhism, and told us not to believe anything blindly, even the words from Dalai Lama himself or the Buddha. He told us us to make use of our own intelligence to investigate the teachings and decide for ourselves the truth. Therefore, I am merely following the essence of Buddhism and the advice of his Holiness. His Holiness also warned us about blind devotion. Therefore, those religious extremists who label Rangzen advocates as being anti Dalai lama should get their head checked. They are the ones not following Dalai Lama by blindly accepting his policy, not us. They are not properly following his advice of seeking truth from the facts, and blindly believing someone. In short, they are disobeying him. Even if someone chose middle path after thorough consideration, they shouldn’t sling mud at independence advocates. We’ve the freedom to use our intelligence and make our own decisions. We should respect each others decisions and not belittle the other group.

I’ve nothing against His Holiness, but the arguments shouldn’t center around who is with Dalai lama and who isn’t. They should be based on what is best for our country. The struggle for our nation should be about nation and not about the leader. No person should be greater than the nation, not even the Dalai Lama himself. This is what happens in the movement, when a certain person becomes too powerful. His personality takes over the movement and the main purpose of the struggle is lost. The dominant leader himself becomes a threat for the movement. I’m just giving an example as there is a possibility of that happening and it is happening to some extent. For instance, today the general debate is not about what is the right path for Tibetan struggle, but about who is for and against the Dalai Lama. And those labelled anti Dalai lama are looked down upon in society. are So, this is definitely not the right way of taking our struggle forward. Infact, there is a possibility of our struggle going backward.

By merely claiming oneself to be the follower of Dalai Lama or Buddhism, one doesn’t truly become so. One needs to follow the qualities of the great people or religion, not the person or the religion itself. Today, there are many who claim to be religious, but still indulge in non religious activities like corruptions. Like His Holiness suggests to bureaucrats in Indian politics, faith and corruption cannot go together. Either become religious and leave corruption or leave religion. Similarly, there are many who claim to be the admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, but how many of them can truly walk in his path? Can they genuinely practice non-violence by showing the other cheek when being slapped? It is about upholding the qualities of those great people in our heart, not the people itself or the hanging of their portraits in the houses(this particular line taken from a great and a must watch Hindi movie Lage Raho Munnabhai).

For those real middle path followers and logic minded people, I don’t have much to say but I’ve made some case in the above statements. Autonomy may seem to be the only logical option as war isn’t, but we shouldn’t underestimate our abilities and aspirations, our willpower. Anything is possible when we set our mind to it.

It is not about what is possible or not. It is about whether you have the will or the determination to do it, to follow on ur beliefs, because there is a way to everything. Give ur best and leave the possibilities to others. As Michael Jordan famously said, “I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying.” Therefore, autonomy shouldn’t be our only choice. as is told by others. Those believing in Independence must strive equally hard for their beliefs, regardless of whether it is possible or not, and not be swayed by others who labels Independence advocates as being anti to everything. The extremists who label us such are the real hindrance to democracy, as they try to suppress our voice in the name of unity.

I do not have any specific solutions for Rangzen supporters as to what they should do. There have been suggestions like forming a Rangzen political party. That’s the only one I know. But it would be good to see more and more people adopting the stance of Rangzen, which might eventually lead to change in the stance of our exile gov’t as well. It might change the attitude of our people and gov’t to a more assertive tone. A change from pleading for international support to demanding independence, our birth right. A change from the state of a plight of victim to a wounded lion who can still fight and roar back. A change from timidness to boldness.

If we could a take a leaf out of Gandhi’s approach, that would be a good starting point. but I’ve no specific ideas either. In his approach, Gandhi was the one in control, not the Britishers. He made the moves and the Britishers just responded to his actions and when he didn’t respond, they were baffled. How do you show aggression to someone who doesn’t respond in the same way . No eye for an eye. Here, China is in control, not us. We are just responding to their actions. Every time, they arrest or kill someone, we respond with protests. We are not initiating much, merely responding with more protests and vigil. Our situation may be different from India but not by much, as the struggle is still between the oppressor and the oppressed, and it has always been that way everywhere throughout history and timidness or weakness can never be the way to fight back. In our case, we’ve let all the balls in China’s court and waiting for response and change of heart from China. Ours isn’t a Gandhi approach by a long shot. I’ve posted a movie on gandhi at bottom from Youtube. Hopefully, people will get some idea. The movie is equally very relevant even today as the man himself. The movie will be a good time pass and get to learn something from the Great Soul as well.

A leader is needed to guide our people inside Tibet in their struggle for a nation, as they are willing to go to extreme lengths of protests, and are not afraid of dying. A leader, who can make a proper use of our comrades who are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. A leader, who can properly channel the 50 yr long raging patriotism burning inside the Tibetans in Tibet as they continue to face oppressions, day in, day out. We need a Gandhi like leader who can lead from the front, who can bring the change, not wait for it. If there isn’t any, people will keep on resorting to immolations as the ultimate symbol of protests inside tibet. No point in opposing their actions if you can’t propose anything worthwhile. Don’t oppose, if you can’t propose. Begging attitude has to stop. If you want something, you’ve to initiate, or strive for it. Just go for it. We can’t expect others to give us everything on a platter. We can’t depend on the generosity or kindness of others. Living on charity of others is not the right way to live. Our’s is not an ideal world yet.

Some die hard followers are already there who are prepared to follow the leader to any lengths. Only the leader is missing. So, the reverse has happened. We’ve the followers but the Gandhi like leader is missing. I’m saying this ‘cos following on Gandhi’s path of truth and nonviolence isn’t easy, yet our followers have already demonstrated their tremendous commitment. They are not afraid of sacrificing themselves for the sake of others and won’t harm the others. They would make the ideal followers of Gandhi. Tremendous opportunity awaits.

I want to conclude with an inspirational quote from Albert Einstein. “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

In short, “Be the Change” and do something about it. And do something with a proactive approach, not passive. Just don’t wait endlessly. Also, do not beg. Fight for your rights. In a worst case scenario, Gandhi preferred violence over cowardness as cowardness is the absence of courage, faith and hope without which humankind cannot sustain. It is the lowest of the lows. I don’t mean to advocate violence here, but a time may come or risk the decimation of a whole race.

Here are the Gandhi’s exact words from his quote.

“I would risk violence a thousand times rather than risk the emasculation(weakening) of a whole race.”

“I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor.”

Some may disagree with my choice of words, especially “coward”, but we’ve become just that, and that includes me as well. A helpless witness to tragedy and genocide in Tibet. This statement is aimed more at us than the international community as it is ultimately our fight. The rest of the world is just there to support. But we’ve to help ourselves first. No one will fight for us.

I’ve posted a link to the movie “Gandhi” from Youtube. Enjoy and learn.

Note: You will notice some paragraphs here in my other writings as well. This is not plagiarism, but my desire to get the point across, as viewers may only go through some and not all of my writings.


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