Prayer flagsKate Griffiths has written this article because of a request that she received to take a stand against China’s latest activities in Tibet. She was shocked to read of the further dismantling of Tibet’s cultural heritage but did not feel moved to follow through with the suggested actions. Initially this surprised her but after reflective meditation, she realised it was because it seemed to be part of an old paradigm form of expression. In this article, she explores those thoughts in more detail and suggests that there may be another more effective way to address the pain that we are witnessing in Tibet.

Last week I saw an article about the latest activities that China are carrying out in Tibet posted by a couple of Facebook friends. It saddened me to see that they have started to destroy the Tibetan capiltal Lhasa and are planning to build shopping malls on one of the most important Buddhist sites of the city, Tibet’s Jokhang Temple. Another step on the way to demolishing all that we consider to be the Tibetan way of life or is it?

Last week I also hosted a couple of private screenings of Occupy Love described by Ann Peckham one of the attendees at the screening as a film which documents the love that has been generated through the meeting of souls through the wonderful Occupy movements that have spontaneously evolved over the past few years. What struck me about that film when I was thinking about the situation in Tibet was one of the placards which read you can crush the flowers but you can’t stop the Spring.

It made me wonder what those calling us to protest about China’s actions would make of this message. Activism such as writing to our MP or to the Prime Minister feels like a very old paradigm response in that it is painting one side as good and one side as inherently bad. The reality of any situation tends to be much less clear cut and as Drew Dellinger said in Occupy Love if there wasn’t so much love, there wouldn’t be so much pain. More than that, it would help the planet if we took a moment to see the meta view and therefore get a better grasp of the situation as a whole.

Why is China causing such devastation? What lies at the root of the Chinese decision-makers’ actions? If we look with compassion then what we find is fear. That may seem hard to believe when we realise that today China is the West’s banker by and large lending the US and the UK the money they need to try and weather what appears to be an ever deepening economic crisis. However if you go back to the nineteenth century and read about the Opium Wars first in (1839-42) and then (1856-60) for the Chinese the treaties that ended these wars symbolised the start of a century of humiliation for China.

Follow that with the Japanese invasion Manchuria in 1931 where they set up a puppet government and what followed during the occupation and you get a very different picture of China. Shortly after the capture of Manchuria, the Japanese started moving into Northern China and there was full scale war between the two countries between 1937 and 1945. China claims that 35 million Chinese were killed or wounded during the Japanese occupation from 1931 to 1945. What we know is that an estimated 2.7 million Chinese were killed in a Japanese “pacification” programme that targeted “all males between 15 and 60 who were suspected to be enemies” along with other “enemies pretending to be local people.” Also out of the thousands of Chinese prisoners captured during the war only 56 were found alive in 1946. That gives you a sense of the scale of the atrocities carried out.

When we start to understand more about the history of China and the devastating consequences of the Japanese invasion as well as China’s humiliation at the hands of the British during the Opium Wars, is it any wonder that today its leaders go to great lengths to protect their borders.

My aim in sharing this information is not to lessen the devastation that is happening in Tibet rather it is to ensure that there is more understanding of the psyche of the other party in this affair and that is China, a rising super power. From this perspective it is much easier to heed Drew Dellinger’s words:

The …. crisis is deepening our love. It’s deepening our love for the planet. We are called to love more fully, and to express our love in more powerful, visionary and effective ways. Lightning is continuously striking in 100 places every moment. The universe spills through our dreams. The future belongs to the most compelling story.

In other words if we want the devastation in Tibet to stop then we need to come up with a compelling future where all parties’ interests are considered so China will not feel the need to destroy the cultural heritage of Tibet. This will not come by taking punitive measures rather it will come when we are mindful of all the players and their needs and can listen consciously to each party in this situation. It will take time to build up the collaboration required for such a high level of trust, huge compassion and a deep sense of knowing that we are all one indivisible so that what we do to one person/ country has reverberations beyond anything that we can imagine. With connection comes the creativity needed to craft a future that appeals to all involved.

If this seems a step too far or too large scale then consider the message from this angle; power at the individual level is about having a voice and a certain level of recognition. Yet you just have to walk into a school playground to see that even there, not everyone has the same level of visibility. There are cliques and individuals who are shunned because they don’t fit in. This angers me because every single person on this planet deserves to be heard and acknowledged for who they are and where they are at on their journey. As soon as we start judging a person or a country then we are no longer the observer responding, instead we have taken sides and we are reacting to what we see from our own limited perspective which is shaped by our beliefs and values.

Acknowledge Chenevier for the Prayer Flags photo

Kate Griffiths is a qualified coach, speaker, community leader and writer, who is fascinated by the power of conversation. She teaches business owners, leaders and teams how to communicate effectively to build stronger relationships and thereby improve the possibilities for innovation and collaboration.

Kate is also the Community Relations Director of the 7 Graces Project, a thriving community and emerging social enterprise. The aim of the 7 Graces Project will be to provide an educational alternative and business incubator for a new generation of ethical, community-focused businesses.

Monday’s Musing: China in Tibet – what’s the real issue?
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2 thoughts on “Monday’s Musing: China in Tibet – what’s the real issue?

  • May 13, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    What is absolutely true Kate is that the solution to these problems is not found in old ways of doing things… it is time to think outside the box… to draw on collaboration and respect for others… to understand that all are important and deserve a voice… to treat others as they would want to be treated…

    When we realise there is a no global race, the survival of the fittest… dominion over others, power and control… what we all want to do is actually live in harmony… sounds all a bit ‘flower power’ and ‘peace man’ like… but… there is more to life than the endless struggle for money, food or even water… there is enough on this planet… we just need people to learn how to be ‘happy’ not lust after money and possessions…

    Once this ailment is cured, much of the sadness, poverty and unfairness will be driven from this world…

    • May 13, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Chris. The starting point for me is being able to see the humanity in each person we encounter. No one is wholly good or wholly bad and yes respect for each other is a good place to start. That can only come when we have a certain level of self-esteem though.

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