You are currently browsing the daily archive for November 13, 2008.

An Open letter written by Alice Walker, to Barack Obama:

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people’s enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people’s spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to “work with the enemy” internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker

© 2008, Alice Walker

Advertisements

China said Thursday a meeting of Tibetan exiles in India next week would “get nowhere”, saying the participants did not represent the views of most Tibetans. China also warned India from allowing such separatist activities on its soil. 

“The people planning or attending this meeting do not represent the majority of the Chinese people. Their separatist attempts will get nowhere,” AFP reported Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang telling reporters in Beijing. 

“The Chinese government is solemnly against any international activities aimed at splitting China,” Qin said in response to a question on Beijing’s attitude toward the gathering at a regularly scheduled new conference.

Many exiles are impatient with the Dalai Lama’s call for “meaningful autonomy” for his homeland and there are growing calls for outright independence from China. 

“The Indian government has made solemn commitments on several occasions that (it) does not allow any activities on its soil aimed at dividing (China),” Qin said, when asked about the meeting at the press briefing. “We hope that this commitment can be fulfilled,” Qin added. 

More than 500 leading Tibetan exiles will gather for a “special meeting” in Dharamsala, which serves as the base for the Tibetan Government-in-exile, next week to discuss the future of their freedom movement.

The meeting is the largest of its kind in 60 years and was called by the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama in response to lack of any signs of progress in the dialogue process and the worsening state of affairs within Tibet following widespread anti-China protests that broke out in the region earlier this year. 

The Dalai Lama last month said he was losing “faith and trust” in dealing with Beijing for a negotiated settlement over the future of Tibet. The Dalai Lama complained, even after pursuing his middle-way policy of seeking “real and meaningful” autonomy for Tibet for a long time, there hasn’t been any positive response from the Chinese side.

The gathering will be held Nov. 17 to 22. 

India, which shares close historical, cultural and religious ties with Tibet, has been home to more than 100,000 Tibetan refugees after the Dalai Lama and his supporters fled to India in 1959 following a failed anti-China uprising in the region. 

The latest round of talks between Beijing and representatives of the Dalai Lama ended inconclusively this month, with Beijing emphatically ruling out every Tibetan proposal for a greater autonomy within the constitutional framework of PRC.