A culture defined by kindness in a world strangled by oppression defines the existence of the Tibetan people. Situated between the magical snowy mountains of the Himalayas and the birthplace of Buddha, they have been smothered by warring nations in a fight for superiority. Despite 50 years of destruction and persecution that have claimed 1.2 million lives and totaled 6000 holy monasteries, the Tibetans still have an undying light in their eyes.
I once asked a Tibetan Buddhist monk, “Do you have hope that one day Tibet will be free?” He answered with unfaltering certainty, “Yes. Yes.” He then chuckled and recalled one of the speeches the Dalai Lama gave about the possibility of freedom. He paraphrased to me the words of his leader, “I am old and balding, but when I am left with only one hair on the top of my head that is the day that we will regain our freedom.” He then laughed his serene and genuine laugh as he drew back into his undisturbed smile.
I was filled with a new sense of hope not only for the future of Tibet, but also for the potential tranquility of our hostile world.
When the Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, he declared his concern for all of humanity by avowing, “As a Buddhist monk, my concern extends to all members of the human family and, indeed, to all sentient beings who suffer. … I pray for all of us, oppressor and friend, that together we succeed in building a better world through human understanding and love, and that in doing so we may reduce the pain and suffering of all sentient beings.” In another one of his speeches, he pleaded to the ones who live in freedom to help his people and promised with sincerity that he will do all he can to serve all people throughout the world. Even while living in exile and devoting himself to liberating his people from the profound suffering they face, he still endeavors in various projects that aid the poor and destitute in various parts of the world, such as Mongolia and India.
We are the free. We are the ones he is addressing. If we feel that we have responsibilities to our future generations, then we must know that the greatest responsibility of all is to bring about the end to these horrifying atrocities plaguing our human family. Let’s help those in the world that pray for the same peace we so desire.
On Oct. 24, at 7:00 p.m. in the Lobero Theatre, Students for a Free Tibet are holding a Tibetan Freedom Concert. All proceeds from this event go directly to help the Tibetans who anguish in profound suffering. All sentient beings are welcome.
Leron Kattan is the president of UCSB Students for a Free Tibet.