"... this president is not interested in symbolism or photo ops but in deliverables. He wants something to come out of his efforts over Tibet, rather than just checking a box." — Asian diplomat
In eight years, I was hard-pressed ever to compliment, never mind agree with, practically anything George W. Bush did as president, whether in foreign policy or otherwise.
Yet, I was genuinely pleased, no, actually grateful, as an American Buddhist practicing in the Tibetan tradition when in 2007 Bush not only met publicly with the Dalai Lama, but actually bestowed upon him one of our nation's highest honors — apparently without giving a second thought as to the anger that would stir within the Chinese government.
So you can imagine my dismay at the news that President Obama apparently is so concerned about irritating the Chinese now that he will become the first American president in nearly 20 years to skip meeting with the Dalai Lama when His Holiness returns to Washington this week.
And yet, even in the midst of my disappointment, the quote I have above above caught my eye and captured my thinking.
That's because as absolutely joyful as I am whenever a president or other high official lauds the Dalai Lama, or delivers some sternly worded talk about the need for China to seriously engage on the issue of Tibet's future — that's all it is, just talk.
The Tibetans have been waiting more than 50 years for something more than talk — literally. When the Chinese first invaded Tibet in 1950, the Dalai Lama telegrammed the world's powers seeking assistance. None of them, the United States included, even bothered to reply.
For a thousand years, the "Land of Snows" had been one of the world's greatest contemplative societies, equal to ancient Greece, as Tibet valued spirtual enlightenment above all pursuits.