The following is a guest post written by Jennifer Holder, who works in editorial at AMACOM.
Wednesday was the Tibetan New Year, and the Year of the Earth Ox is here. According to the zodiac, it is a time in which exertion, stamina, and joy dominate our lives. At AMACOM, we are excited for the publication of Freeing Tibet.
But the day was not celebrated by everyone. Although many Tibetan Buddhists around the world welcomed the Ox with juniper bonfires, chanting, aspirations, and by blowing their horns, in Tibet the day was much different. As one chanting monk made clear to the New York Times, theirs was a ceremony of mourning, not celebration.
According to the Tibetan Government in Exile, last year’s protests against Chinese rule led to the deaths of 200 people. As NPR reports, “Now, a mood of quiet desperation prevails… where the sound of resistance is silence.” Many Tibetans across the world are boycotting New Year festivities, and the Dalai Lama approves.
Much was said this fall about the Dalai Lama’s nonviolent stance, even among the Tibetan community. Questions about whether the nonviolent approach is the best approach abound. Plus with his waning health, everyone is wondering who his successor should be, with ideas ranging from the appointment of a regent to China’s insistence that it has the right to choose the Dalai Lama’s next reincarnation.
But the painful reality of the standoff between Tibet and China remains. March 10 is the 50th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising, after which the Dalai Lama fled into exile. This failed attempt and its consequences – for Tibet, China, the US, and the world — is chronicled in our book Freeing Tibet by John and Elizabeth Roberts and on their website and blog. As Buddhist professor Robert Thurman says, “The more we learn about Tibet, the beauty of her people and their culture, and the agony of her brutal subjugation… the more we feel committed to ‘Freeing Tibet.’
Jennifer Holder is an editorial assistant at AMACOM, a member of an international Buddhist community, and an editor of the online news magazine www.shambhalatimes.org.