The quote, “lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for” can be likened to a desperately sick patient who needs a doctor—we must try to help those who are most in need. The current Tibetan situation is an example of a lost cause. The Chinese invaded Tibet in 1959 and since then there has been systematic damage to the Tibetan culture and the Tibetan people who have lost their basic human rights. The attainment of independence of India from the British is an example of a lost cause that was worth fighting for and that victory was achievable. Martin Luther King fought for civil rights and equal opportunities for African Americans in the 1960s. Aung San Suu Kyi is fighting for democracy for Burma. These two people show us that we should stand up for what we believe in. In order to have the strength to fight for these causes we need the courage that Emilliano Zapata’s quotation demonstrates: “I would rather die standing, than live on my knees”. By standing up for what you believe in you can achieve a lot.
The current situation in Tibet is thought by some people in the international community to be a lost cause. An example of why Tibet is thought to be a lost cause is that the population of Tibet is only 6 million and the number of Chinese living in Tibet is much greater than the Tibetans. Lhasa is the capital city of Tibet and the Tibetan population in Lhasa was only 100,000 and the Chinese Population was 300,000 according to the Chinese government statistics in 2003 (“population transfer programmes”). These Chinese migrants to Tibet are fully qualified in the Chinese communist mission to assimilate Tibetans into the Chinese culture. They are in Tibet for a purpose, which is to increase Chinese population in Tibet. Chinese people occupy the majority of high positions in the government sector and related government projects. There are limited opportunities for Tibetans. The Chinese government treat the Tibetan people as second-class citizens therefore the rights of Tibetan people are uncertain and unreliable as the rule of law changes when it is applied to Tibetans. The Tibetan people have no basic rights and no opportunities. They are not allowed to travel other than inside China. They are not allowed to practice their culture. Therefore the Tibetan people are living in fear and their survival is threatened. Many independent observers have expressed that the current Tibetan situation is a lost cause and the thought of Tibet returning to an independent state is said to be unachievable. It has been 51 years since the Tibetan people lost their country.
Many people think Tibet will never get freedom from China because the Chinese government is too powerful and the devastation so far to the Tibetan culture is too severe. However, with all the setbacks and upheavals the Tibetan culture has faced the Dalai Lama still encourages the Tibetan people with these words:
Tibet has been under Chinese occupation for 40 years. We have nothing other than our determination – and the truth – to help us deal with the Chinese. Despite the brain – washing, despite their use of all possible forms of atrocity and propaganda, despite all the terrible methods they have applied, the truth remains the truth”. (Dalai Lama 26)
This statement shows how much courage and determination the Dalai Lama has. Today the world has recognised the Dalai Lama’s courage and his determination to fight for Tibetan autonomy by awarding him numerous prizes including the Noble Peace Prize in 1989. It is so important to fight for the lost cause of Tibet because it is about achieving the basic rights for six million Tibetans.
In the 1940s it was considered a lost cause for India to achieve independence after 300 years of British rule. However, Mahatma Gandhi began his non- violent struggle for independence of India. At the beginning, Gandhi’s campaign for Independence was not popular and it was very difficult to struggle against the British army (Mahadev24). However, Gandhi spent his whole life practising the fundamental principle of non-violent action to achieve independence and in 1947, due to the result of his efforts and determination, India got its independence. The people of India recognise Gandhi as the father of India for his fight for independence, which at the time, seemed a lost cause to many.
When Emilliano Zapata said, “I would rather die standing, than live on my knees” this statement is exemplified by the African American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King’s memorable words: “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character” (Wortham). As a result of Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement and his conviction that there should be no discrimination on colour or race, equal opportunities were created all Americans. Even though Dr King has passed away, his non-violent principles are still very much alive and have influenced the younger generation of Americans. As result of his civil rights movement, there is now a black president in the White House. If Dr King did not fight for civil rights we would not see these changes in American society today.
Aung San Suu Kyi is a woman whose life is an example of someone who “would rather die standing, than live on her knees” Her extraordinary courage and commitment to achieve democracy and human rights for the Burmese people is unrelenting. Aung San Suu Kyi grew up in Burma and later lived in Britain where she worked for the United Nations. She had a comfortable life outside of Burma but gave up her good life and returned to Burma in 1988 (Aris 203). Since then she has fought for democracy and human rights for the Burmese people. The Burmese government has tried many times to force her out of Burma but she has refused to go. Even her husband, who was living in England, and close to death with cancer, he did not receive a visit from her, as she knew once she left Burma the government would not allow her to re-enter the country. Aung San Suu Kyi became the leader of the Burmese League for National Democracy party and won the election in 1990 but the military regime didn’t hand over the power to her, (Aris 23) instead they put her under house arrest for 30 years. Her enduring fight for democracy in Burma shows how much courage and determination she has and in recognition of her efforts for the Burmese people and human rights she was awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 1994.
The current Tibetan situation is a ‘lost cause’ and it seems justice is unachievable because of the Chinese government’s dominating power, but the Dalai Lama’s courage and determination has inspired the Tibetan people to never give up. Mahatma Gandhi fought for the independence of India and it has been achieved. Martin Luther King fought for civil rights for African Americans and he dreamed of equal opportunity for all Americans. Although he has passed away his dream is being achieved in today’s America. Aung San Suu Kyi’s determination and commitment for democracy and human rights for Burma is unshakeable. These great people have stood up for what they believe in spite of all the obstacles and challenges. They demonstrated the meaning of “lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for” and “I would rather die standing, than live on my knees”.
Anne Wortham. “Martin Luther King’s Flawed Dream.”The World & I 13.6 (1998): 66-6. Print.
Aris, Michael. freedom from fear aung san Suu kyi. 10. New Delhi: Penguin Book, 1995. 203. Print.
Dalai lama. My land and my people. The university of virginia: McGraw – hill, 1962. 205. Print.
Dalai lama, First. the spirit of peace. London: Thorsons, 2002. 26. Print.
Graff, Gerald. They Say / I Say : The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing /. Ed. Cathy Birkenstein. New York : W.W. Norton & Co., 2010. print.
Mahadev, Desai. The story of experiments with truth. India: Navajivan publishing house, 2003. 154. Print.
Tibetan Exile government. population transfer programmes. 2003. Web. 9 Oct 2010. <www.tibet,net>.