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Society

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: L’air du temps

by EDITORIAL PAR MAURICE ULRICH

Certain beliefs now in vogue

Translated Tuesday 19 August 2008, by Edward Lamb

The certitudes in vogue, these days, are very singular; spreading their deceiving truths, authentic lies and approximate evidences, like the wind spreads clouds and smoke screens. One could enumerate them, one by one, in pell-mell fashion. For example the Dalai Lama is holiness, wisdom and liberty all in one, like the Holy Trinity and anyone who doubts that is an adversary of Tibet. The Beijing Olympic Games are an occasion for China to demonstrate its power (which was not the case for other countries before), and to hide from the eyes of the world its violations of human rights. Anyone who watches television and remains oblivious to that is either a simpleton or an accomplice who should be called to order, which French Television (Channel 2) missed no occasion to re-emphasize throughout the Inauguration Ceremony. Elsewhere, Russia, as a fellow journalist wrote, yesterday, « has invaded an independent country, a friend and pro-Western ally »… Not to mention Bolivia, where an oligarchic, racist, extreme right wing opposition to Evo Morales, is qualified simply as « globalist »…

No one doubts that Russia’s riposte to Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia was intended to serve as a very demonstrative warning for its neighbours who might be tempted to look towards Western horizons and to NATO. But, can we, without reflection, close our eyes to the fact that it was Georgia who sparked the crisis by attacking South Ossetia? Can we pretend not to know that Georgia could not have done so without the United States’ - imminently present in that part of the world, where their embassies are veritable military and reconnaissance bases – being aware of their plans? The geostrategic chess game that is being played in that region of the world, where oil reserves are at stake, among other interests, is not a low-budget western movie with the good guys on one side and the bad guys on the other. Georgia could not have doubted that Russia would retaliate. Who wanted that bomb to explode and for what reasons? It is only by asking those questions, by laying all the cards on the table that France and Europe can contribute to the urgent restoration of peace.

Is the Dalai Lama a saint? Perhaps, as an individual. Even though holiness is not what it used to be… But, we are already on the brink of an overdose. Evangelistic announcements of the coming of the Messiah, who is going to edify us with his "teachings". He is represented as the essence of Buddhism, he who is only the spiritual leader of a very small minority of that religion. Tibetan Buddhism is certainly very trendy in the West, but it only represents some 8 million disciples worldwide among the several 500 million Buddhists belonging to other sects. Does one still have the right, in the fatherland of Voltaire, to have some doubts about a religion which mingles the wheel of reincarnation with a plethora of heterogeneous divinities in those regions of the planet where, as Salman Rushdie wrote, “you can’t even get on a bus without sitting on a few hundred gods”. Having said that, is it as if one had condemned Tibet, surrendered it to Chinese oppression? Or is the truth of the matter somewhat more complicated? [1]

Nicolas Sarkozy went to the Inauguration Ceremony of the Olympic Games. He will not greet the Dalai Lama and is criticized, here and there, for his inconstancy. But, who is to blame, if not the French President himself, with his ostentatious declarations and cutting style. And now we have it that he will be sending his spouse, in his place, to meet with the Dalai Lama! It’s Sarko’s variety show, pure vaudeville.

Otherwise, what could be meant by such relations between the Republic and the religious sphere, instituted by the President? The Pope, the Church and now the Dalai Lama as spiritual guides? Catholic priests and Buddhist monks being confided with the defence of our values, against laymen and teachers?...

Yet, there is method in this madness, a general direction, a common denominator. It leans toward the emotional, irrational, binary and Manichaean reasoning. It denies the necessity of stepping back to examine the situation and to reflect upon it. We shall continue to do quite simply the contrary.

[1Considerable background and current perspective on the subject of Tibetan Buddhism and the independence movement is provided by the remarkable new book Histoire du Bouddhisme tibétain : La Compassion des Puissants, by the Belgian historian Elisabeth Martens, published in 2007 by l’Harmattan, 25,5 €. (Note added by HC, l’HumaniteInEnglish)


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