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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

"I Am the Master of my Own Fate" by Woeser

February 19, 2010

High Peaks Pure Earth
February 16, 2010

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost
by Woeser that was originally written for Radio
Free Asia on February 4, 2010 and posted on her blog on February 8, 2010.

In this blogpost, Woeser refers to another
Tibetan female poet and blogger called "Drugmo"
who is based in Canada. In the week prior to this
blogpost, Woeser had posted three poems by Drugmo
on her blog in the original English and Chinese translation.

The poems were titled "The Other...", "For Tibet,
Again" and "Booth". For High Peaks Pure Earth
readers who want to keep up with Drugmo's
writings, this is the address of her blog:

"I Am the Master of my Own Fate" by Woeser

This morning I was woken up by a phone call from
the United States. It was a friend who is
currently doing a PhD. Although he is Han
Chinese, on Twitter he wrote the following lines:
"I cannot possibly choose my descent, but
emotionally, I have been Tibetan already for a
very long time”. We have been acquainted for many
years and after 2008, his humanitarian sympathy
for the Tibetan people turned into having the
same feeling. On the phone, he was deeply moved
by three poems, which I had recently published on
my blog. The author of the poems is the young
Tibetan woman, Drugmo. I have never actually met
her in person, only received her warm greetings
on Facebook and she also introduced me to her
blog. She has lived in India, Tibet and North
America and she uses English to write. Her grasp
of the English language and her poetic and
literary talent has astounded this Han Chinese
friend of mine, he calls her work the utmost enjoyment.

He even quotes some lines from Drugmo’s poems --
"I dare them to kill me right there, "I am the
master of my own fate." -- he praises it as being
a true national epic, in which the poet uses
language to express a spirit, which language is
not able to express. Yes, when I glanced over her
blog and used Google Translation, I more or less
came to understand that as well and that’s why I
selected those three poems and asked the
Taiwanese "Rosaceae", who lives in far away UK,
and who has already translated many Tibet related
articles, to translate them. The verse mentioned
above, which is part of “The Other”, clearly
indicates that it is written for those friends in
Tibet who live a dual life. I am very familiar
with the poem’s background, the specific
circumstances as well as the emotional repression, for example:

"Buddha lies hidden under a silk scarf," Tucked
in a drawer at home in Lhasa. At night I restore
it, and say my prayers, "Prayers to forgive my
cowardice," Prayers to relieve me of suffering. I
look from afar at the giant monastic doors,? The
believers walk in with their prayer beads,? I
have pledged my hands to communism, "I can’t go in with my old butter lamp.”

Of course I am not intending to write a
commentary about poems. What I really want to
express is that a poem written by a Tibetan
living in exile can deeply move people living in
different parts of the world, for instance a
Tibetan living in Beijing, a Chinese or Taiwanese
living far away in England or the US. This world
really isn’t that big and we can observe
communications and exchanges of spirits and ideas
between different countries and different
nationalities. What I also want to express is
similar to what the intellectual Edward Said, who
is regarded as the “voice of Palestine”, once
said: “wherever the identification with politics
is threatened, culture is a way to resist
extinction and being wiped out. Culture is a way
for ‘remembrance’ to resist ‘oblivion’. In this
respect I believe that culture is of the utmost
importance … it holds the strength to analyse, it
can go beyond hackneyed expressions, it can
penetrate and look through the blatant lies of
the officialdom, it can question the authority
and look for alternative solutions. All this is
one part of the arsenal of cultural resistance.”

Authoritarian people always think that they are
invincible. Hence, there are members of the
Chinese Communist Party, who are always driven by
pernicious behaviour such as "spitting on the
ground" or they make a great uproar about
“themselves having to thoroughly secularise
Tibet, competing with the Dalai Lama for the
masses”.  Or when facing national and
international media, they foolishly ask the Dalai
Lama to “clarify calling himself the ‘son of
India’”, they preposterously criticise the
American President for preparing to meet the
Dalai Lama by saying that “first of all, it is
unreasonable and second of all, it is
unprofitable”. But looking at the so-called
“unprofitable” claim, there couldn’t be anything
that more vividly sets out how in today’s
money-grabbing Chinese society “people recklessly
come and leave all for the sake of profit”. Maybe
those money-grabbing officials believe that
everyone in this world is just like them, blinded
by greed, only driven by profit, and completely
oblivious to the feelings and treasures of
beauty, wisdom, and conscience. To think that
“political power grows out of the barrel of a
gun” and “money talks” are the only magic
formulas that can control the will of the people,
this can only be the extremely short-sighted and
superficial view of disgraceful and sad materialists.

At least, for example because of the resonance of
Drugmo’s poems, the fact that among the people,
the delusion with regards to authoritarianism has
already been dispelled, proves: culture really is
a way to resist extinction and being wiped out.
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