There’s a nice post on the Tibet China situation on the IBNLive website. The crux of the post is that the peaceful methods adopted by the Tibetans, namely hunger strikes, peaceful marches, prayer meetings etc., are passe. The traditional tibetan way of protest is nicely summed up by the article as, “Do not cause distress, but protest.”
She (the journalist) also writes about how the younger tibetans are realising the futility of the peaceful methods of their elders and adopting a more direct, in-your-face approach. Even though the protests are still peaceful and non-violent. Approaching the end of the post, the writer asks,
These are impatient times. Can they still follow the dictum of ” no distress to anyone” ? Can they still clutch tightly to the ways of the Dalai Lama? Can they still hinge their belief in protest marches to move nations?
And follows it up with what could be the answer,
The 49 years of non-violent ways have not really translated into an effective mass movement. So, maybe these are the times to support the civilised ways of protest against a dictatorial crackdown. These are times to strengthen the non-violent ways. The times to render power to the “evolved” way and make it the effective way.
But what does “the effective way” mean?
Does it mean a complete end to the Dalai Lama’s “evolved” approach to protests and moving towards a completely political approach to protesting? Like the way the movement of the Olympic torch is being protested?
One point that I would differ on with the writer is the statement that the non-violent ways have not been very effective. Maybe the non-violent methods have not given results that are visible directly, but from a public relations point of view, they can still be called a success. Its only because of the “evolved” method of approach that a majority of the people view the Tibetan cause sympathetically. If people like Richard Gere, Steven Spielberg etc. are willing to lend their voices for a Free Tibet, it can only be attributed to the present means of protest.
The more political ways to protest may be able to lend you the attention of the world for a few seconds but it is certainly not enough to make people stick their necks out to support you. If you are not convinced about this statement, just think of the Indian political parties and all doubts will be laid to rest.
IMHO, the way forward for the tibetans would be to follow a stronger two-pronged approach to the problem. A good cop-bad cop approach with the Dalai Lama and his ilk acting as the “Good Cop” with the younger generation adopting the “Bad Cop” stance. By the “Good Cop” stance I mean the present methods of protest preached by the Dalai Lama i.e. the prayer meetings, the peaceful marches etc. Whereas the “Bad Cop” stance could be the more aggresive methods something like the protest against the Olympic torch march (though “Bad” would not be an accurate way to describe the latter, a “Grey” approach would better describe it.)
This would allow the Tibetans to make the best of both methods of approach. The Dalai Lama way will ensure that the sympathies of the world are always on their side. And the political methods will ensure that they have the attention required to focus on their issue. You can even call it the Ying-Yang approach as it would be important to maintain a balance between the two methods. None of the two methods can be allowed to become stronger at the cost of the other.
The major problem in doing this would be to ensure that even after the Dalai Lama, the “Good Cop” are able to maintain their position vis-a-vis the “Bad Cop” followers. Because till the Dalai Lama is alive there can be no one to disobey his word. But since the Buddhist rules only allow the appointment of the next Dalai Lama after the death of the first, there will inevitably be a lull till the next guy at the helm finds his feet. Maybe it is time the Dalai Lama bends the rules a bit and grooms his successor in his own lifetime?