Tibet. A name on the lips of many today as violent scenes erupt around the world in a carefully orchestrated outpouring of sentiment towards a country that seeks self determination.
No good will come from writing about such an emotive topic, because to support the arguments on either side will result in criticism and misunderstanding on the other. But not to say anything at all, and pretend there is not a problem, really supports the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller (1892-1984) - which read:
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
I believe entirely in human rights. I believe in the freedom of expression; the rule of law; in the ability of anyone to openly practice whatever religion or follow whatever belief they choose - or not to follow anything at all. I believe that no one should go hungry and that everyone should be entitled to clean water, nor should they be discriminated against.
A kind of Utopia, right? A state of unrealism which suggests that the Americans should give back the land to the Mexicans that were taken from them; that Guantanamo Bay should not exist; that Robert Mugabe should without question step down from the office he has held so corruptly for many years; that the Middle East conflicts in Israel, Palestine and Iraq should be resolved and that Christians should be allowed churches in Saudi Arabia. A world in which the military junta in Myanmar should be hunted down and made to hand over the reins of power to those who won it, fairly, in a democratic election.
Tibet, a "cause" that has had the word "celebre" added to it. A cause which seems to have attracted the same "rent a mob" that attends the WTO or the IMF meetings where the advertisements to entice attendees (of the protesting kind) promise entertainment, street parties and some action. A mob which knows how to shout "Free Tibet", but which doesn't know either why it should be freed, what it should be free from or, actually, where it is. I do not belittle the efforts of those who do know what they are talking about, but I speak as a generalisation.
So, we now have a global campaign designed to support a perceived injustice. "Perceived" because, at this stage China has merely said "hands off" without offering any explanations as to its actions or being willing to talk to reach an understanding. Like it or not we live in a globalised world where the actions of our fellow world-dwellers cannot be hidden from view. We need to deal with the politics, but should do so through diplomatic means, not mindless violence.
Meanwhile, if this continues shouldn't we start planning for the protests against the UK in the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games? Wasn't it Britain that helped create many of the problems that Africa faces today by not preparing them properly for democracy; by dealing ineffectually with people like Mugabe; who helped create a "country" like Iraq after World War 1, and who then supported the invasion of that country? Why single out China for attention - just because everyone else is feeling smug in their new glass houses? Come on, keep the ball rolling. I am sure there are some Scots who would be more than happy to join in. Serious? Of course not - but there are plenty of activists out there looking for a cause, whether it affects them or not.
But with all that, I got away from the point.
While politics and diplomacy
And no, this is not an "apology" for condoning issues as serious as human rights, but those dreams also exist amongst those living in desperately poor and/or oppressed countries under despotic regimes. Dreams that might, for just a while, give them a glimmer of hope. Dreams that can so easily be shattered in a world increasingly ruled by the media and the mobs.