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World Owes Tibetan Community Apology For Attacking Pure Acts Of Love
All because one day, the world decided to view an incident -- such a pure, unadulterated act of love, compassion and faith in our culture -- through their base-minded lens
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No apology was ever needed from His Holiness. No apology. No explanation. No statement.
Because pure unadulterated acts of love, faith, and compassion DO NOT require any apology.
Because an "oothuk" -- foreheads touching to represent pure love, respect in our culture -- does not require an apology.
Because a kiss or a "po" on the lips given by elders to little children and by young children to elders is common in our culture and another sign of pure, unabashed love -- until of course, you superimpose your own hypersexualised views/culture or negative experiences on everything and view every act of pure love through that lens; in such an instance, even the sight of a grandfather kissing his own grandson will be misconstrued as "child abuse."
Because requesting His Holiness to "blow into the face" of a young child or an adult -- words that would be horribly misconstrued in any another culture -- are in our culture the very reason for hope. Hope for parents with sick children. Peace of mind for so many with a dying parent or loved one as they seek one last audience and "blow" with His Holiness before s/he passes. "Blow on my face" -- words/an act so pure in the Tibetan world are so so so very different in every other world. For the word "blow" or the act of "blow-ing" represents hope and faith and peace and contentment and fulfilment and compassion and kindness... in our culture and to our people. Words/acts that would have never been seen as such to those who have not an ounce of understanding of the Tibetan way of life, nor cared to know or understand.
And likewise the words "nge che le jip" -- such a common playful refrain by Tibetan elders and so innocent-sounding in Tibetan but not so when translated into English as "suck my tongue."
So to reiterate -- no apology was ever needed from His Holiness, irrespective of how sordid the minds of those who perceive a culture and a purity that their minds can never ever fathom as possible of existence in this world of tremendous hate and angst and lust and malicious intent.
Instead, the world OWES the Tibetan world and His Holiness, who is the very epicentre of that world, an apology. A deep, heartfelt apology for the unprecedented, unwarranted assault and attack on everything we hold dear. The attacks on His Holiness and the ease with which so-called 'woke' people have jumped to conclusions have been deeply deeply deeply hurtful for me and millions across the world.
But mainly for so many Tibetans like my 77-year-old mother who weeps through the day and has lost sleep for the past few days. Because this viscous, vitriolic, targeted attack on His Holiness has been the worst attack so far that she and so many like her have known in their nearly eight to nine decades-long years of existence. For her, this -- she told me as she called me weeping, unable to sleep past midnight -- has been "the worst attack so far on the Tibetan faith and the Tibetan way of life." And she's right. For this is a blatant attack on everything the Tibetan world holds dear -- our culture, our way of life, our innocence, our humour, our unabashed optimism, our resilience, our naïveté, and our faith.
As a Tibetan mother of three children -- two of whom have special needs -- my deepest fear now is that this incident will so drastically alter our Tibetan world and the Tibetan way of life that tomorrow even if I were to request His Holiness -- once again, as I have done in the past -- to "blow into my daughters' faces", that they will never be so privileged. And my fear is that it won't stop there -- my fear is that tomorrow, so many other Tibetan parents like us will never have that opportunity ever again for their children to receive the blessings from and witness the pure, unabashed acts of compassion and love by any other spiritual leader within the Tibetan Buddhist community ever again.
All because one day, the world decided to view an incident -- such a pure, unadulterated act of love, compassion and faith in our culture -- through their base-minded lens.
So again - to emphasize - no apology, no explanation, no statement was ever needed to be issued by His Holiness. Instead, the world owes the Tibetan world and His Holiness an apology now.
Tenzin Pema is an award-winning journalist with over two decades of experience in writing, editing, and leading teams across various global and national media organisations
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.