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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."

EDITORIAL: History is the final judge

August 24, 2008

Ak'Bar A. Shabazz
The Washington Times
August 23, 2008

"A wolf wrapped in monk's robes. A devil with a human face and a
beast's heart."

That's how Tibetan Communist Party Secretary General Zhang Qingli
recently described the Dalai Lama, Tibet's traditional political and
spiritual leader.

It almost makes me laugh. How can someone really believe this? As I
am very familiar with the work of the Dalai Lama through his books,
articles, interviews and speeches - and his Nobel Peace Prize - it
seemed natural for me to find humor in this Chinese puppet leader's
assessment of someone almost universally recognized for being peaceful.

The more I read, however, the more I realized the depth of Qingli's
seriousness. He further said he and his party was in a
"life-and-death" struggle against the Dalai Lama. Clearly, this man
is on the wrong side of history and doesn't yet realize it.

With the Summer Olympics in the Chinese capital of Beijing, talk of
the Dalai's quest for Tibetan autonomy from China is unavoidable.
Whether or not Tibet ever actually becomes autonomous, it's
relatively safe to say the Dalai Lama will be remembered among one of
the greatest men in history working for peaceful change.

When you take a contemporary look at Mohandas Gandhi, it's almost
absurd to justify the perspectives of those who opposed his movement
at the time. It's simple to see the simplicity of his requests and
the honor of his practices. Through non-violent means, violent
massacres ceased and India gained independence from British rule.

Fierce opposition to Gandhi ended with his death by an assassin's
bullet. There were plenty of British officials and Hindu radicals as
strongly opposed to Gandhi as Qingli apparently is to the Dalai Lama.
The majority of the time, those opposing the great leaders of world
peace, miss the messenger's entire message. These people are
unmistakably on the wrong side of history; perhaps all of them in
complete ignorance at the time of how they would be remembered.

On the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr., many reflected on his life, times and his message of
non-violence. Once again, history remembered a man who fought tyranny
and injustice in a peaceful manner. Dr. King endured beatings, water
hoses and enormous opposition to change not only our nation's laws,
but also our nation's attitudes about race and equality.

Many viewed Dr. King as a communist rabble-rouser who used his status
for simple notoriety. The FBI once labeled him as "the most dangerous
negro in America." Once again, looking back today, it is extremely
difficult to justify such a label. Dr. King's opponents utterly
missed the essence of his message, and there has been an obvious
reconsideration of their tactics against him.

It makes one wonder why people - such as the Chinese leadership today
with Tibet - do not recognize they are putting themselves alongside
the infamous opponents of the world's great movements. Clearly, the
Chinese are disregarding the Dalai Lama's principled message and
succumbing to short-sighted bullying that has done others a
disservice in the past.

In the end, who really wants to be remembered as the guy who killed
Gandhi or someone who turned the hoses on Dr. King rather than
marched alongside him? What will a person tell their grandchildren
about when they were apathetic to the causes of Nelson Mandela or
Lech Walesa? How can we, for that matter, justify allowing Zhang
Qingli and his Chinese cohorts to abuse and murder those seeking
autonomy for Tibet?

If we disregard the calls for freedom and democracy in places such as
Tibet, where are we placing ourselves as it relates to world history?
If we disregard the Chinese abuses upon the Tibetans for political
expediency, we risk going down in history as another apathetic
generation against a critical tide in human events.

To quote Dr. King, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about things that matter."

Ak'Bar A. Shabazz is a member of the national advisory council for
the Project 21 black leadership network.

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