By Tenzin Nyinjey
August 14, 2010 - I have never voted in my life. Be it Chitue or Katri elections, I never had the urge to vote. It's not because I don't care about our struggle, our fledgling democracy. It's because I never saw any relevance whether I vote for them or not. In other words, I never found the deserving candidate who can give me the pride to call him/her my leader and savior - someone who can inspire and give me the occasional joys and laughter, that emotional and moral boost which lifts us out of our current political mess and help us reach the final destination of a free and independent Tibet.
Yes, frankly speaking, Chitues, by and large, have never inspired me in life. I have always found them parochial, sectarian, fighting out for their own cholkhas and cholugs, for their own vested interests. Worst of all, I have found them ignorant and totally out of touch with the masses! Apart from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the only 'leader' that inspired me once was Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, with his elocution and rhetorics. His enormous knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism and Sanskrit was something that gave me pride in a world that has deprived much of my dignity and honor as Tibetan.
Still, I didn't vote for him. I didn't have the slightest interest to participate in his elections. I never participated in any kind of fiery debates on his chances of getting elected to the post of Kalon Tripa. This is not because I don't endorse him as a Tibetan leader or I don't respect him. The primary reason is there was no potential candidate who could challenge him and make the elections interesting and worthwhile to him, to us and to our young democracy.
It was obvious to everyone that he would win by a landslide majority. So, in a way, my abstention was a sort of boycott against this pathetic and lifeless Tibetan democracy, in which a candidate won the highest political office with almost ninety percent of total votes cast, something which occurs only in Iraq under Saddam and North Korea!
Many people celebrated this as a triumph of Tibetan democracy, saying for the first time in the history of democratic elections the world over, a candidate secured almost ninety percent of votes. To me, it was an embarrassment. It made me cringe in shame and anger, because I know that real democracy is not simply about elections, but choices, alternatives, debates, which is possible only when we have at least two potential candidates vying equally for the highest post.
For the first time, however, I see a wave. For the first time, I see light. For the first time, things are changing. For the first time, I have registered to vote for the elections. Yes, for the first time I am voting for the Katri elections! For the first time, many young Tibetans, till now alienated due to the conservative and patronising nature of the Tibetan leadership, are charged up and doing everything they can, whether it is launching a website, participating in Katri debates, or just engaging in causal chats in chai dukans, to make sure they give their voices to our democracy by voting in the upcoming Katri elections.
To me, this is the dawn of a new era - the beginning of a revolution, nurtured by the Tibetan spirit that never gives up on its hopes even in the most trying of situations. This is a revolution led by a younger generation of Tibetans, bred and educated in exile by the exile Tibetan government in the last fifty odd years. For the first time, we are reaping the harvest of democracy planted fifty years ago, when His Holiness stepped on the borders of India, fleeing the Chinese communist occupation of Tibet.
For the first time, the vision and dream of our leader is coming alive! What's more this dream of democracy, liberty, equality and fraternity is being realized without any bloodshed, without any chopping off heads among ourselves. It's being realized through sheer hard work, intelligence, sacrifice, dialogue; in short through humane way, something no country has ever achieved to do so in this world.
This feat is but a testimony of Tibetan spirit, of our extremely violent yet non violent culture, a symbol of which is the self-immolation of Pawo Thupten Ngodup, who, despite in full blaze, could fold his hands in a gesture of peace and non-violence, demanding freedom and justice - a glorious act of defiance perhaps only a Tibetan can perform with such presence of mind!
Yes, for the first time we are proving to the world and ourselves that we deserve the democracy granted to us by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. For the first time we firmly believe that we can run our own country, not just run but run successfully, creatively and democratically. For the first time we are proving that we have it in us to create not only an independent Tibet, but a free and independent Tibet, where all religious traditions will be respected, where every kind of people - men, women, gays, lesbians, atheists - will be welcomed to share the joys of happiness and freedom.
Yes, the seeds of Tibetan independence have finally sprouted. From here, its not a question of how, but when this sprout will bloom into a tree and finally bear its rich fruits that we can relish with our long separated fellow brothers and sisters in Tibet!
Yes, finally the tables are starting to turn! Yes, finally revolution has knocked our doors - revolution which is no longer a whisper, but a melody, a symphony that is tuning in the hearts of every Tibetan, both in and outside of Tibet!
Submitted to The Tibetan Political Review by the Author