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Remember Tibet

Fifty years of occupation. Colonizing a neighbor instead of another continent doesn’t make it all right. Having an empire now instead of two hundred years ago doesn’t make it all right.

Fifty years of non-violent resistance. The powers-that-be insist that’s the right thing to do. Then they ignore the hell out of anyone who actually does it because quiet people aren’t a problem. Don’t ask why there’s so much death and destruction in the world. Ask why there isn’t more.

Buddhist monks in Japan holding a vigil for Tibet

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I have a hard time even writing about the news from Tibet. To many people in the US it’s some faraway place which is the pet project of a few effete actors. It is way more than that. It is unique in the world, but not because it’s beautiful. Most of the planet is beautiful. It’s culturally extraordinary, but that’s not unique either. Tibet has become a test for the world because of who the rest of the world is.

I’ll begin at the beginning. My own interest in Tibet began years ago. I majored in ethnobotany as an undergrad. (Yes, I know. Weird. It was known as a “Special Concentration.”) My senior thesis was on the Tibetan pharmacopoeia, and I chose that country because it’s medicines and practitioners had a legendary reputation in Asia. That’s saying something, considering that the competition is China and Indian Ayurveda. And yet, unlike its huge neighbors, very little was known about which plants were actually used. I set off to identify as many as I could. Read more »

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