One of my favorite Tibetan blogs is Lhakar Diaries; a blog where young Tibetan exiles are reclaiming or discovering (in many cases) what it means to be Tibetan. Some of these western born Tibetans are struggling to learn the Tibetan language, wearing chupas in public non-Tibetan settings, researching the history of China’s occupation of the land of their ancestry and speaking from their personal experiences, not being spoken for by westerners or Tibetan government.
“We have created Lhakar Diaries to honor the Lhakar Movement and stand in solidarity with Tibetans inside who are fighting for the survival of the Tibetan nation and identity…………Lhakar Diaries is a platform created by and for Tibetans. So that we can speak for ourselves, about our issues”. Lhakar Diaries
This movement is perfect in timing and tone and I get inspired every time (almost) that I get a feed from the blog post. There are a couple of reasons for this inspiration. Firstly, I’ve been deeply annoyed with the limited, branded image of Tibetans as monks in maroon robes, saintly prayer flag hanging, prayer wheel spinning, prostrating old wrinkled nomadic herders living in yak hair tents persecuted by Chinese. I say limited because these images are based in reality, however, they have become the dominate mythology that governs the image of Tibet and Tibetans. These heavily mediated images leave out the larger portion of the Tibetan population in and outside of Tibet. By relegatng them to a handful of stereotyped images the full beauty of the culture itself is lost.
Serving as important reality checks of the stereotype of Tibetans, are the many blogs, video’s and activities of Tibetans in exile. For instance a young Tibetan man in France with his Shapale rap video, which I absolutely love and share with friends as often as possible, is a perfect example of Tibetan humor, Tibetan language crossing the former boundaries of rap music and successfully I might add. Also it shows how Tibetans are adapting to new influences and cultures and resisting cultural annihilation by finding creative methods of incorporating their Tibetaness into the new culture.
Secondly the Lhakar movement is a perfect form of non-violent protest in that it revitalizes the Tibetan issue and puts an alternate face on the image of Tibetans. Granted much of the content is from Tibetans in exile and given that there are only about 150,000 Tibetans living outside of Tibet the voices from this end of the Lhakar movement is not representative of Tibetans overall. The intent however to represent the Tibetan voice is there and whenever possible Tibetan voices from inside Tibet are featured on the website as well. The Lhakar movement is an act of resistance to Chinese colonialism, and in the west it is also a form of resistance to the high jacking by westerners of the Tibetan culture. Westerners as some of us know are very possessive of their ‘Tibetans’ and associated connections and in some sort of perverse way want desperately to cling to the ideal image of Tibetan culture as being a model for the rest of us to follow (thanks Robert Thurman, Richard Gere).
Lhakar Diaries and other Tibetan based blogs (see Angry Tibetan Girl) serve to dispel the narrow branded image of Tibetans while personally reclaiming the culture of their ethnic origins and the reality of being part of a diaspora. It’s also an important connection to Tibet and allows them to stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Tibet while bridging the gap between generations and Tibetan born exiles and western born exiles.
What I like the most I think is that these are Tibetans speaking for themselves, not being spoken for by Chinese, westerners, or even the government in exile. That’e empowering!
From High Peaks Pure Earth – the Lhakar Pledge translated –
“The Lhakar Pledge”:
1. The Nature of the Movement
This modest movement called Lhakar comes from the fact that I am Tibetan, and it is like a note reminding us that we are Tibetan in our daily life. Through this movement, we restore, renovate and keep our language, culture, identity and tradition.
Through this technique we can keep the people of the Snowland’s soul language till the end of humankind. This technique helps us retain Tibetan culture, Tibetan good morals and the traditions which are born from our soul language. This technique is easy and it is meaningful.
This Lhakar movement began in anticipation as remedial medicine for hundreds of diseases for Tibetan brothers and sisters who live in every region. I hope that many Tibetan brothers and sisters will participate in this movement without any invitation and follow the eight promises or keep even one of them, and practice it. I am requesting all Tibetans to keep this pledge as I kneel down on my knees and humbly fold my hands on my chest, and make this request innumerable times.
- I am Tibetan, from today I will speak pure Tibetan in my family.
- I am Tibetan, from today I will speak pure Tibetan whenever I meet a Tibetan.
- I am Tibetan, from today I will remind myself every day that I am a Tibetan till I die.
- I am Tibetan, from today I will wear only Tibetan traditional dress, chuba, every Wednesday.
- I am Tibetan, from today I will speak only Tibetan every Wednesday.
- I am Tibetan, from today I will learn Tibetan language.
- I am Tibetan, from today I will stop eating meat and only eat a vegetarian diet and gain more merit every Wednesday.
- I am Tibetan, from today I will only use Tibetan and speak Tibetan when I call or send a message to Tibetans