Friday, July 2, 2010

If I Ever…

"Support education for the poor"
"Increase Tibetan awareness in youth"
"Preserve Buddhism, the Tibetan language and culture"

These are just a few excerpts from Tibet Hope Center's students when asked to compile a list of actions they would take given the chance and opportunity to rule the oppressed nation. While some students stated - jokingly, of course - that they would "go personally to Beijing and blow up the government building" the overwhelming consensus was that Tibet's primary focus and goal should revolve around preserving the traditional Tibetan culture while striving for modern education, health and sanitation systems. Through these conversations it was able to see the vibrant hopes and dreams of one nation's exiled peoples - a future of liberation, democracy and freedom.

It was His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama who said "It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good" - and how undeniably true that is. The Hope Center's students have faced what many in the Western world would consider insurmountable challenges - living in a repressed society, robbed of their heritage, beliefs and culture and seeking freedom in a foreign land through a strenuously grueling trek by foot over the Himalayan range from Tibet to India. And yet when asked what they first do given the chance to rule the country their answers were not ones of revenge, spite or violence - instead they chose actions guided by the Buddhist principles of kindness and compassion, they chose to bring health care, education and electricity to a country often forgotten.

It is now that I ask you to look at your own lives. The opportunities we have been afforded are tenfold what any of these students have ever been exposed to, yet the activism and philanthropy we engage in is but a fraction; we live a life consumed by apathy, comfort and consumerism. Although my students will not become the leader of Tibet nor will we become the leaders of our own respective countries it doesn't mean that we should continue living in a haze of apathy where political and religious oppression and human rights abuses are seen as the norm, rather than the exception.

"The creatures that inhabit this earth-be they human beings or animals-are here to contribute, each in its own particular way, to the beauty and prosperity of the world" - how will you contribute?

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