Reflections on Tibet

Trip Start Sep 08, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Nepal  ,
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tibet is such an extreme environment in which to try to carve out existence. Life is so hard. So brutal. The dryness! The dust erodes everything. Everything is sandblasted, stripped bare. Raw. It's hard work to be here even for a week. It's harsh. There are no comforts. No warm, cosy corner in which to retreat. It is no coincidence that the religion here is so strong. Living in these conditions you have to believe in something. But for the people of this incredible land, not only do they have to withstand the suppression of the environment; they have to contend with political and social suppression too. They have to watch as their culture is eroded, as their history is systematically broken up and swept away.
All subjects in the schools are conducted in Chinese. Tibetan is taught as a separate, scholarly subject. Like Latin, it is a dead language, interesting only for its sentimental value. It has no words to deal with modernity, no word for the internet, for jeans, for fast-food. And by taking away the indigenous language(s), the occupiers have stolen the people's history. For if your language cannot evolve, cannot grow and change, it loses the ability to describe the past. The history written in the new language is necessarily a different history. It is no longer your history. No longer part of you.
It is little wonder there is no joy to be found here.
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