Monday, February 8, 2010

"Show Me What You Got"?

The impulse to write this opinion turned into an obligation when I saw US President Barack Obama’s speech on CNN on 2 February 2010 regarding health care reform. While valuing the Republicans’ disagreement with health care reform, his immediate response to it struck really close to my heart — he urged Republicans to show him “what you got” (a better reform?)? This is so true in real life when people criticise for the sake of criticism with no better alternative to provide. I immediately felt the strong correlation between what President Obama said to the Republicans and the Tibetans’ present political situation.

The recent ninth round of talks between the representatives of the Chinese leadership and the representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as expected, failed to satisfy the hopes and aspirations of many Tibetans in India and abroad. People have little patience and expect quick results without realising which side of the pendulum weighs heavier. Like most of the Tibetans, I am also disappointed with the lack of visible progress or positive changes in the past several rounds of talks. Running out of patience with these slow moving talks has raised many eyebrows and some have even suggested for a change of approach towards China.

However, bad or worse, we should not forget that our situation is the same as an antelope whose head is under the jaws of a crocodile waiting to be crushed. We should not, even in our wildest dreams, ever overlook that we are, in all respects, weaker than China. We should be smart and intelligent enough to critically analyse how to get our heads out of the crocodile’s jaws, not only to safeguard our heads but also to accomplish the desired freedom. Freeing our heads from the strong crocodile jaws will not be an easy task but not an impossible one if we recognise the truth of the situation and react accordingly.

At present, I don’t see any approach that would surpass the peaceful middle-way approach. If we try to be aggressive, there might be a huge risk of getting our heads crushed before we can even move and talk.

A few Tibetan NGOs, embracing a different stand i.e., independence, have grabbed the slowness or lack of visible progress of the talks with China as an opportunity to press for the need of a change in our political approach. There is no disagreement in having a sound debate on the best approach towards resolving our current political status. However, one should not be driven away merely on the grounds that the current middle-way approach is not working or is a slowly moving process.

Before cursing the ongoing talks, one should critically analyse whether the alternate approaches, if any, are more viable, feasible, and doable than the current approach. Everyone will follow an alternative if it proves to be a better and realistic approach.

However, as far as I know, no other approaches seem to out-smart the current middle-way approach. Therefore, we should ask these few NGOs, proponents of an alternative approach (independence), to “Show us what you got”. We need to know their plan of action on how to best reach our final destination. Merely performing the duty of an activist is not a long-term solution.

Show me what is on your table so that I am convinced of your stand and approach. This might look like a direct confrontation but, in reality, this is what many Tibetans are looking for in the alternative(s) that would provide a better and more realistic approach to resolving our current political status.

*Published 8 February 2010 on Tibet

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