Mayfield: Free Tibet. Sure. How? |

Mayfield: Free Tibet. Sure. How?

Rich Mayfield
Vail, CO Colorado

The Subaru was old and, from what I could see from the rear, its paint had faded and rust was beginning to spread beneath the bumper. But a bright new sticker just above the license plate proclaimed “Free Tibet” so, stuck in traffic as we were, seemingly attached trunk-to-grill and only slowly inching our way through three successive signals, I had plenty of time to ponder on the proclamation “Free Tibet.”

I’ve never been one for bumper stickers. Too often they say too little and include too much. A fish emblem floating on the back of an SUV, for instance, announces the driver’s faith but fails to describe the particulars. There’s a wide range within Christianity ” from far right to way left ” that can’t be articulated by one small fish. And then there are the political choices expressed just above the exhaust that were resolved years ago. I actually saw a Dukakis/Ferraro sticker on an old Chevy not too many months ago. I suspect, with time, the sticker’s glue binds itself so fast that removal would mean replacing the car’s entire rear end. How else to explain the few Bush/Cheney bumpers still bouncing around the country?

“Free Tibet” ” If I were to paste a proclamation on the back of my car, this depiction of the outlawed Tibetan flag would be the first under consideration. Recent events offer increased evidence that any expressed solidarity with the Tibetan people is the proper route to follow. The Chinese disgraced themselves over 50 years ago by arbitrarily erasing Tibetan borders and continue to bring shame upon their nation with the despicable crackdown now in progress.

“Free Tibet” ” But what does that mean and how would it be done? Even the Dalai Lama doesn’t advocate a return to pre-1950 status; only a “middle-path” of increased autonomy for his ancient home. And yet the Chinese government continues its slanderous campaign against this most gentle of all religious leaders.

“Free Tibet” ” The Olympics seems a reasonable target for those who share this opinion. Rumors are rife as to a boycott of the opening ceremonies as a means of protest. Prince Charles has already announced his intended absence. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is considering his absence as well while movie mogul Steven Spielberg has disassociated himself from previous participation in the Olympics implementation because of China’s policies around the world, particularly in Sudan. But there are those, and they seem to be many, who claim that such humiliating action will only serve to punish Tibet even more as the Chinese will feel less compelled to create civil harmony if they see no way of saving face.

“Free Tibet” ” The traffic jam is breaking up, but I’m still at a loss as to how one manages to fulfill that two-word sentiment. Drawn as I am to this same political desire, I can’t for the life of me imagine how it can be done. This week President Bush urged President Hu Jintao of China to meet with the Dalai Lama for “substantive dialogue.” In addition, Bush called on China’s president to allow access for journalists and diplomats in Tibet. This admirable action on the part of our president may be the result of a drawn-out war on the other side of the world that might have never come to be if Bush had followed his own recent advice.

“Free Tibet” ” And yet, as the old Subaru slowly moves away, I’m left wondering where and when we move from supporting potential constructive engagement into allowing immoral political behavior. Knowing the Chinese predilection for putting on a positive front, do we continue this common charade for the sake of the Tibetan people or has the time come to call the world to action for the sake of the Tibetan people? The Internet is filled with reports and rumors sneaking out of Lhasa of continuing protests and ever growing numbers of injured and dead. Is China’s power so intimidating that we ignore basic human rights? Are the Olympic Games so important to the world’s portended peaceful coexistence that we turn our backs on an oppressed and subjugated people?

“Free Tibet” ” Yes! How?

Rich Mayfield is the author of “Reconstructing Christianity: Notes from the New Reformation.” E-mail comments about this column to

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