By Tsewang Namgyal
Like many Tibetans, I sincerely thank the Tibetan Parliament in their decision to amend the Charter of Tibetans in Exile. In addition, I appreciate the set up of a Constitutional Amendment Drafting Committee comprised of dedicated individuals.
It is not difficult for us to cry even thinking about all the efforts and work of His Holiness. When I was a child, I used to think of His Holiness as someone who was both omnipresent and omnipotent. Today it is clear that His Holiness gets sick and old like anyone of us. What is extraordinary about Him is simply his profound compassion and wisdom.
His Holiness could have made me or most of us young Tibetans as suicide bombers if he wanted. Yet he taught us the power of compassion. He even taught us to love the Chinese occupiers. It is His teachings that give us peace. It is his practices that give us hope. We will never be able to fully repay His kindness.
His Holiness is now pleading to us to take on our responsibility in preparation for his eventuality. We have to trust His judgment. We have to trust in our own ability. We have to trust that our next Kalon Tripa will succeed. However, we all know that this will take much effort and guidance of experts.
There are many who feel that His Holiness or Samdhong Rimpoche should always hold some kind of political power. I believe this should be left to the discretion of our next elected Kalon Tripa.
If our future Kalon Tripa always felt that he/she is not the ultimate decision maker that would hurt that individual’s confidence and prevent clarity of that person’s decision making abilities. This is not much different from allowing a young man/woman to make his/her own decision. If a young man always feels that one cannot make his/her own decision this will not allow the person to think independently (as they would second guess what the parent thinks), will not learn from mistakes (as will likely blame it on the parent) and will likely delay the decision making time (which is bad in a fast moving world).
Yes our next Kalon Tripa will make mistakes. But we need to let him try. We need to support him like we do to His Holiness. We need to elevate the Kalon Tripa Office up to the level of His Holiness. Only then I believe our next Kalon Tripa will be able to take on the responsibility with boldness and humility. Only then there is a chance that the world will respect the Office like they do His Holiness.
One lesson from history is that absolute power corrupts absolutely. But the checks I believe should be in the form of building or empowering our democratic institutions whether other government bodies, non government organizations and the media. It should not be by tying the hands and legs of our next Kalon Tripa.
The Constitutional Amendment Drafting Committee and our leaders are now soliciting feedback during this period of transition. Let us give them actionable suggestions. Let us think how our next Kalon Tripa can succeed. Let us start by encouraging our community to have an elaborate Kalon Tripa inauguration where there is a symbolic transfer of political power. Let us provide the resources (human, security and financials) so that our next Kalon Tripa will lead Tibet to a brighter future. This will make His Holiness proud. We know that His Holiness desires nothing more than our success, like a parent to their beloved children.
I am not sure which one of our Kalon Tripa candidates won but I know that he will have my support. How about you?
The author is an MBA graduate (Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society member) from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and works in the Investment Banking field in New York City. Tsewang is one of the Founding Board of Directors of Students for a Free Tibet, first Tibetan to officially enlist in the United States Military and served as the Executive Director of the Tibetan Community Center Project (NY) from 2007-2008. Tsewang currently serves on the Board of the Tibet Fund.