EPS Review #165 - For Tibet, with Love

Act for Tibet stunt For Tibet, with Love, AKA A Beginner's Guide to Changing the World, by Isabel Losada, Bloomsbury, 2004, 371pp.

Our friend Lucy recommended this book, because of my interest in Tibet. P read it part way, but gave up, saying it was annoying and self-serving. I read it through, and enjoyed it, partly because I do like Tibet, and wonder what can be done to protect its interests, and partly because I have a weak spot for crazy enthusiasts. Also, the author is pretty, and I wanted to know if she succeeded in seducing her monk (or khenpo).

My trip across Tibet was a carefree adventure mostly. We were never very worried about getting nabbed by the police or the government. According to Ms Losada, the locals are not so lucky, and mild protests or simply being a monk can lead to long years of imprisonment and torture. She is particularly disturbed about the fate of the true Panchen Lama, who was whisked away as a child and is supposedly being brought up as an ordinary human, unaware of his reincarnated nature. The author has a strong religious nature (hence the book on nuns). She treats the spreading warmth in her chest after touching a statue in the Jokhang as a scientific fact. I actually sympathise with this feeling (having shuffled through the Jokhang with an ardent smelly crowd myself), though I regard my own religious impulses as suspect vestigial stone-age items, that is not to say they do not have a certain allure, at least from the aesthetic/romantic/indulgent angle. But I don't feel particularly worried about the Panchen lama if he is in good health, compared to the rest of the torture (how awful to now belong to the US, a country that also condones torture) and cultural suppression.

Ms Losada finds that not all pro-Tibetan organisations are efficiently run or promote as peaceful ideals as does the Tibetan government in exile (which no longer calls for independence, only autonomy). Her one tough question for the DL is whether he should discourage the more aggressive support groups. (She gets triple her allotted 15 minutes with him). She also finds that the Chinese ambassador is sincere in his belief that Tibet belongs to China, which reminds me of a Chinese friend who also in good faith believes that Taiwan belongs to China, whatever the people who live there might want.

At the BP shareholder meeting she hassles Peter Sutherland about Chinese investment. Good for her. And the stunt she planned (right) was interesting.

The writing style is spontaneous, and sinks to the occasional low (she reproduces the Two Dogs joke).

Here is her list of things you could do. Or you could send them some cash. Her reading list looks good, though it does not contain Tibet is My Country, a book I found interesting because the author says he does not remember his past lives -- but there is a surprise at the end.

Anyway, P has left our checkbook on my desk, so I'll set an example right now.