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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Opinion: Unrealistic 75th Birthday

July 13, 2010

By Tenzin Namzey Gentso
July 12, 2010

America is a land of opportunities, a place where
people can express themselves freely and proudly.
Tibetans feel that this is a perfect place to
raise their kids in hope for their bright
futures. One thing Tibetan parents seem to urge
consistently is the importance of keeping their
culture alive. Parents ask us next generation to
not forget our native tongue and to not get swept
off our feet by the American lifestyle; this
seems reasonable. Parents work hard for their
kids, and as much as their lectures bore us, it
is all for the best. In the end, the results
would be fantastic; however, in between the
lectures and hard work, there are many little
things that are missing. As you can say, our
parents do not exactly practice what they preach.
They might not know it, but it is true.

July 6 is a universal term among Tibetans; it is
the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. When
people celebrate his birthday, not only are we
rejoicing, but we are also praying for his long
life. Now, it’s quite obvious that in order to
have a full celebration, we should acknowledge
the birthday on the actual date. More
importantly, the Exile Government has requested
that on the Dalai Lama’s 75th birthday, every
Tibetan should have an extravagant celebration to
honor His Holiness. Many people across the world
did that well enough, such as India. This past
July 6, Tibetans gathered in Dharamsala, India
and all day long they celebrated. It was held
outside as people danced, sang, and prayed.
Although it was pouring rain, people still
arrived with umbrellas and in their traditional
Tibetan clothes. There were no chairs, but even
in the rain people willingly stood up. Dedication
like this presents the joy and pride the Tibetans
have. Even in Tibet, where it is forbidden to
celebrate His Holiness’s birthday, Tibetans still
lurk off quietly on the edge of peril to honor
His Holiness in some special way.

Now in America, where everyone is free to do as
they wish and free to express themselves, Tibetan
communities did not do much to celebrate His
Holiness’ birthday. In many places, such as New
York, a celebration is held on a particular
weekend every year. In Chicago, the Dalai Lama's
birthday was commemorated four days after the
actual date. I live in Boston, Massachusetts, and
the celebration for July 6 this year was held on
Sunday; the American Independence Day. It is
reasonable to hold a gathering on a weekend
because more people will be able to attend.
However, in this type of occasion, it doesn’t
matter how many people come. The Dalai Lama’s
birthday should be celebrated on the exact day,
and people who are not capable of taking time off
of work will just have to miss the event. It’s
quite simple, really. Even if there was no
choice, the least we could do is give our full attention to the ceremony.

At different locations through the country, many
Tibetans who attend these gatherings lull around
bored. They barely listen, let alone watch, the
performers. Teenagers gather at one table,
texting, gossiping, or talking loudly with one
another. Not only that, little kids run amuck,
creating chaos wherever they go as they ignore
their parents’ shushing, causing neighboring
people to complain. Now with the pricy ticket
admission, the purpose of having a gathering for
His Holiness is not to fundraise, the point is to
honor Tibet’s leader and pray for his long life.

If people in Tibet, who are not allowed to
celebrate, are capable of gathering without
getting caught, then it shouldn’t be a problem
for Tibetans in America to properly honor the
Dalai Lama’s birthday. To fight for our rights,
freedom, and anything else that might be banned
in Tibet shows the world our perseverance and
pride. However, we should also take advantage of
what we can have and use it to our convenience.

The writer is a 15 year old Tibetan student of
Milton Academy, she lives in Boston, Massachusetts with her parents.
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