Monday, April 07, 2008

Jiu Jin Shan -Old Golden Mountain

My extended Tibetan family today is closely watching Old Golden Mountain, as the Chinese call my local big city, San Francisco. This morning, Alice and I awoke to the news radio reporting climbers on the Golden Gate Bridge. Traffic was at a standstill in many places. The winds were strong - and stronger where the climbers were. Very dangerous. The reporters said the climbers were expected to unfurl a banner about Tibet and the Beijing Olympics. Alice and I decided to take a walk to think about things while the climbers climbed higher.
I hoped they would have a Tibetan national flag since it has cartoons on it of two of my relatives. Maybe the symbols of the flag with the Team Tibet logo? And I also thought how many in cars - including dogs - might be annoyed by the traffic jam.
Alice thought about her great-great-great-great grandfather,John Hossack, who left the Scottish Highlands to find food and work in America after the English defeated his nation's army and decided the crofters and clansmen should be "cleared out" in favor of higher income and tax revenue produced by sheep and wool farmers. The Highland Clearances. The wearing of the tartan and the playing of the bagpipes was forbidden for a long time by those in power from London.
Alice thought about what her ancestor, John Hossack, would think about the Tibetans. She expects as a very active abolitionist who was arrested himself for helping a runaway slave, he would have marched for the Tibetans and helped pay any fines the climbers will be charged for harming the bridge and interferring with traffic on a highway. John said it all in Chicago about freedom from oppression in a speech he made before he was sentenced under the Fuguitive Slave Law in 1860,

"...Gladly would I lay in this prison if it would arouse the people of this state to control their own jails, sheriffs, and jailers, and decree an eternal divorce between them and the despotism that wields the General Government, that blights territories, and stalks over the free states, imprisoning whom it pleases, and where it pleases. Men of Cook county, if liberty is not a farce, I ask you to ponder these things."

She also thought about the other side of her family from southern Ireland who had to leave after the potato famine and much too much persecution of the Catholics. If you were Catholic you could not get a government job. The Irish were forbidden from wearing of the green and speaking their language by those in power from London.
Well. The Irish did not give up. Lots of violence and struggle. Hunger strikes by prisoners in the 1970's.... But they finally joined the European Union. A new rule of law for all. The first Celtic Tiger economically. A roaring success.
The Scots got their own Parliament back again just a few years ago. And the Scottish Crown was delivered back to them by the English royal family. It took a long time....
And now, all over the world, the Scottish and the Irish cultures thrive thanks to their painful disporas.
The Tibetans have had a dispora, too. In their old capitol today, no one can get a government job without speaking Chinese well and denouncing their religious leader.
How long until those in power in Beijing realize the Tibetans need not be feared as those in power in London for hundreds of years feared and oppressed the Irish and the Scots? I hope the answer will be nonviolent as the Dalai Lama has preached for decades.
Erin go deo.
Scotland Forever!
Om mani padme hum.