Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Friday 28 March 2008

The future will tell, ask Havel

Framing can be a powerful method to put your audience 'on the wrong foot', as we say in Dutch. In 'He Maybe a God, but He’s no Politician', Patrick French argues the Dalai Lama’s stand on Tibet is naive and the support he seeks from the West - mistakenly perceived by Tibetans as genuine - gives false hope and leads to unnecessary bloodshed. He was referring to the protests by monks in Lhasa and other cities in Tibet two weeks ago. There is some venom in the way he frames his ideas. The venom of disillusionment of a Westerner who for years – as a director of the Free Tibet Campaign - had an almost mystical belief in the sacredness of the Tibetan case and a mythical perception of pre-communist Tibet. When he learned that the Dalai Lama did not pursue independence, as his Campaign was doing, but 'meaningful autonomy', he found out the hard way that the reality of Tibet was not and never has been mythical or mystical. He then turned against his former case. His stories now may hit the front page of the opinion section of the NYT, in the end the truth will prevail.

Change Tibet into Soviet Union, and substitute for the Dalai Lama the names of Mandelstam, Pasternak or other intellectual leaders who would not give in to Stalin’s dictatorship. Would Patrick French' article still make sense? Of course not! Since the bloody riots Tibet has been sealed off. All foreigners had to leave, no journalists were allowed in. Until yesterday when the Chinese wanted to show a few selected Western journalists on an orchestrated PR tour to Lhasa that everything was OK. To their embarrassment it did not work. In front of the cameras monks testified that the official Chinese media were lying about the protests. The reality we are facing in Tibet is that Stalinist methods still are practiced in the 21st century. And because of an emerging super power, we are going to depend upon, we ‘frame’ this reality away. And conveniently put the blame on the oppressed and their Leader. Framing that reality away, for me that is just un-ethical. About the truth I would say: the future will tell, ask Havel!

1 comment:

Pema said...

Frits, thank you so much for the post and the supportive stand. And about Patrick French, I think he should know that though I, as a Tibetan,appreciate whatever contribution he has made to Tibet, Tibet and the Tibetan people are a real country and human beings and not a mythical fairy- tale land and characters. I wonder if Snow White sent him a letter asking him to get so illusioned with the tibetan issue that he would later on get "disillusioned"!!!