01 September 2010

Tibetans and More

First of all: "More" in the title refers to Sir Thomas More, or more specifically this excerpt about the Utopian's love of learning from book two of Utopia. More says of the Utopians: "In three years they became masters of the language" in plain admiration for their capacity to learn Greek. Well, let me look at that facebook group again . . . yep. I am certain that these Tibetan students are fluent in English, as is each of my contacts so far. I assume that they also speak another language like Tibetan or Hindi. Congratulations Tibetans! You're on par with More's ideal citizens!

As I thought about Tibet and Utopia, though, I realized that there are some distinct similarities. More created the word Utopia from two words: "ou" (not) and "topos" (place). It also sounds like "eu" which means good or true. Utopia means an ideal location that is not a location at all. Tibet has desired independence longer than women have desired chocolate, yet "no government of any country in the world has ever recognized Tibet as an independent state." Washington officially recognizes Tibet as part of China. Many of the Tibetans live away from their homeland as well, creating a new community in northern India. For various facebook activist groups, Tibet is a source of inspiration and fascination--this land which is not officially independent. In this way, Tibet is somewhat of a Utopia--an ideal place (especially for Tibetans) that has yet to be a separate location from China.

The idea of new worlds encompasses expanded economies, certainly, but also expanded imagination. The pull of a distant Utopian world has a power over human thought and emotion. Think of George Mallory, the mountaineer who died in his ascent of Mt. Everest (his may have been the first successful attempt to reach the summit). Mt. Everest for Mallory was a powerful source of infatuation and even madness--he could not resist Mt. Everest even for the sake of his wife and children.

What do Tibetans think of their homeland? Especially for the younger generation that has only lived in India, what pull does the distant Utopia of Tibet have on their minds?

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