Thursday, February 19, 2009

Vigiling on Wednesdays

I went to the Vigil yesterday with my mother.
We meet in Harvard Square, in the Pit, for two hours, and hold up Tibetan flags and signs saying "Free Tibet", "Tibet Belongs to Tibetans", "Honk for Freedom", "Long Live His Holiness" etc. Then we pray, for all the Tibetans who were taken, tortured, executed because of the March protests. Yesterday there were about 25 people, older and younger Tibetans. It's generally the same crowd.

There was heavy snowfall yesterday. I mean, snow was falling like confetti, like all the angels in heaven were clearing out their sidewalks and we just happened to be underneath their shovels. Truth be told, we probably wouldn't have gone if the weather hadn't been fine when we started out. Because, you know, it's very easy to think 'what good will it do anybody for a bunch of us to gather in the pit and hold a couple of signs?' It's warm at home, and there's TV. I have missed these vigils any number of times, out of habit, laziness and cognitive dissonance.

Even when I do go, sometimes that seems to be habit too. And sometimes because other people whose dedication I admire go. Sometimes to get out of the house. Sometimes out of guilt, and only very occasionally, from a small inspired burst of activism.

There's no sort of "Eureka" reason for why we hold these vigils. I guess, mostly, we hold the vigils because we can.

I think I'll write something about what it means to be Tibetan, what it means to be from this country we have never seen and yet always to think of going to Tibet in terms of going back to Tibet, to have terms like "occupation" and "colonialism" mean now and not history. Perhaps I can call it "What We Talk About When We Talk About Tibet".

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