Monday, April 21, 2008

My Decision to Boycott the Beijing Olympics

So I've been getting a bit of grief from a few people for choosing to boycott the Olympics this year. I'd like to defend my position. The most common argument I've been getting is that not watching the Olympics won't bring the Tibetan people any closer to autonomy or independence and therefore it's just a waste of time - I may as well just watch them and enjoy it. This, I believe, is a completely bogus argument. But let me start from the beginning and give you all a short (ish) history of Tibet and the injustices that went on there in case you don't know much about the situation.
Tibet rests on the borders of Nepal, India, China, and Bhutan and is the highest country in the world but it won't be found on most contemporary maps because of China's claim on the country. Tibet became a protectorate of China in the early 18th century but until 1949 enjoyed de facto independent status and kept its language, culture, religion, government, and it paid no taxes to China. However, in 1949 the Communist party invaded Tibet under the guise of liberating the people. Tibetan Buddhists are traditionally extremely non-violent and those defending Tibet were equipped with muskets and bows and arrows.
In May of 1951 a 17-point agreement was signed by the two governments. This agreement stated that Tibet would formally recognize Chinese sovereignty for the first time in history, but would still enjoy complete autonomy. The Chinese government would not interfere with Tibetan relations at all unless it dealt with international affairs or the defense of Tibet.
This agreement was quickly violated by the Chinese and in 1959 a Tibetan uprising was brutally suppressed by the Chinese and the Dalai Lama (the political and spiritual leader of Tibet) was forced to flee for his life. He hasn't been back to Tibet since. Since then, the Chinese government has (except briefly during the 1980s) used tactics such as ethnic cleansing and forced assimilation to eradicate the Tibetan culture, language, and religion. Ethnic Chinese have poured into Tibet turning Tibetans into an ethnic underclass. Over 1 million Tibetans have been brutally murdered since the Chinese invasion, many of them monks and nuns.
With the decision to hold the 2008 Summer Olympics in China, protests around the world have erupted and Tibet has been at the head of these protests. Tibetans are being repressed, kidnapped, tortured, and killed all so China can get rid of any opposition that would deface their growing reputation as a world power. In addition, the Chinese people aren't able to access unbiased information regarding this subject because of the regulation of the media by the Communist government.
Basic human rights have been violated for decades in this and other regions of the world by the Chinese government, and to me, the decision to hold the Olympics in Beijing says that the world (or at least the Olympic Committee) is either choosing to ignore this fact or stating that it is alright. Neither of these messages are messages that I want to support. And for those of you who decide to watch the Olympics because you want to support the athletes or even just because you like watching the Olympics, I think that's a great thing to do. I only ask you to look a bit into the controversy. Not only in Tibet but all over the nation of China.
So yes, my choice to not watch the Beijing Olympics probably won't take Tibet (or Taiwan or
Xinjiang) closer to true autonomy or independence, but maybe if ratings go down enough, a message will be sent to the Olympic committee and even China that this kind of brutal governance is absolutely unacceptable. You never know what event may spark revolution.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tired, hyped up, and listeing to the classics

Good news! I found out today that the huge research project that was due this Friday they 18th is now due next Monday the 21st! A whole 3 more days to work on it! Although it's not so good cause now I've been wasting time again... still, I got a lot done today. I'm feeling better than I was - not good mind you, but better.
So about half an hour ago I left my friends' apartment (played Guitar Hero III - totally addicted now) and when I left I was actually pretty tired. Then I got home and for some reason got into this really weird mood. I turned on Erasure and Styx and now that mood has escalated to no chance of me going to sleep in the near future. I just hope my music and singing isn't carrying over to my roommates' rooms or the guy in the bedroom right under me. It's been a long time since I've listened to this stuff and it's a good reunion so far. I remember several years ago sometime in 9th or 10th grade Styx came and played for Novell. It just so happened that my dad worked there at the time so he took me. Oh man it was great. My dad, me, and a bunch of drunk 48 year olds. It seriously was an awesome concert though. Styx is actually coming to Logan this summer (July 4th) but I probably won't make it. If I die seeing Styx only once I'll be ok with that. Twice would be better, but once is ok :P
"Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto, for doing the job nobody wants to! And thank you very much, Mr. Roboto, for helping me escape to where I needed to!" Man, I'm such a nerd.
Crap. I just remembered a history paper I have due tomorrow at 3... Oh sigh. May 1st. It'll all be over May 1st at 10 AM...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Renewed Intentions

How great it is to be chilling on a Sunday evening when I should be working on a project... I've been thinking a lot about starting this blog up again and here we go at last! Hopefully I'll be more regular although I doubt I'll get anything else posted before the 18th. I have a massive research project that I'm working on with a friend and we've only begun the research. That's due this Friday and the day before that I have a massive test in my Buddhism class so needless to say this week is going to kill me. I guess that's a good place to pick up - school. This school year has been intense. I've only taken 12 credits each semester but they've been tough 12 credits. Last semester I took 4 (count them) 4 political science classes. Never do that. This semester I'm only taking one (Trade Ethics) but I'm also taking a ridiculously time consuming African history class and a super tough Buddhism class. Then a sociology of religion for my minor but that's cake. The Africa and Buddhism classes I'm taking just for fun and I'm glad I chose to do that. They're both very interesting and I've learned a lot.
The Trade Ethics class is probably one of the best classes I've taken thus far in my schooling. It's really very interesting and I've gotten such a huge picture of the world before that I didn't have. With this class were were able to spend 5 days in Washington DC and 5 days in New York City over Spring Break. That was an amazing experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I heard so many awesome lectures and got to see and do some awesome stuff. Granted, I did miss my best friend's wedding because of it, but I'm glad I decided to go. Plus the morning we left (March 6th - my 21st birthday mind you) I got to meet Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords. If you don't know who they are look them up on YouTube. They are absolutely hilarious. I have both of their autographs and a picture with them. Best birthday present ever!
There's only 2 weeks now until finals and good grief I'm excited. I only have 1 comprehensive final this semester and 1 non-comprehensive final (plus one medium sized research paper on top of the one very large research paper) so after the 18th I should be fine. It's just this week that's going to kill me. But I am super excited for the summer. As of right now I have two options ahead of me: either move back home to Orem or spend the summer in Shanghai with my sister Cecily and her husband Mike working. Freak out right? If I do end up going to China it'll be the end of May until whenever I decide I want to come back. I'd for sure get here in time for school. Of course, there is the possibility that if I do go to China I'd end up as a political prisoner because of my anti-Communist and pro-Tibetan protests. I don't know for sure yet, but I'll keep you posted. It would be an incredible experience but I'm also excited to just move home again. This will be my last summer as a college student and probably the last time I'll live at home. My sister Sara and her husband Jacob are currently living in my parent's basement apartment so it would be awesome to be able to hang out with them all the time. Plus Sara is pregnant so it would be cool to be with here for a few months during that process. Speaking of being pregnant - I'm not - but my sister in law Leith is! She's due in June and I can't wait! Tamsine Jane Christensen. Tamsine because Leith is South African and it's a popular name down there so it fits. Jane because that's the name that my brother liked the best with Tamsine. Although he may change his mind because he doesn't want anyone thinking he named her after Jane Austen.
Alright. Time to start working on real life now. Hopefully I keep up with this blog.