The Dalai Lama breezed through our town recently, making speeches that awed the citizenry as usual. For none seem to question his insight and authority.
His holiness, the teacher, the guru, is both spiritual leader and head of state for his exile Tibetan government. Elsewhere derided as a dangerous combination, this blend of church and state is readily accepted for Tibet as it is not for, say, Iran.
Does the DL get a free pass because we use eastern terms for him rather than the words we usually apply to a government leader?
Let’s call him what he is, the “dictator of a theocracy.” And not a very hard working one. In 1959, after his political failures with the Chinese, he ran out of town. In essence, he announced to his people, “There’s going to be some trouble. So the smoothed-handed class must go. But you stay behind and use your calloused hands to work the land and send us money so we can keep these great outfits and live the easy life in a mountain retreat.”
During the 1990s, partially in response to criticism of this autocratic arrangement, a set of voting reforms were announced. They sound lovely. However, it’s easy to be perfect democrats when you don’t actually have a government that does anything. Politics is less pure when you actually have to apportion power. Still, the DL himself has never received a vote in his life.
He claims to be the government is exile but he accomplishes nothing for his “people.” Non-violent resistance has proven an effective political technique the world over, from India to Burma to the US. The DL, however, has managed half a century of failure. Why doesn’t someone ask him about that in the Q&A after one of his lovely ethereal speeches? Everybody’s having too much fun being ga-ga in the presence of what all consider a “great” man.
Underneath the lovely saffron robes the emperor has no clothes.