By Wang Li-xun
The operation of Tibet Qinghai Railway has kicked off a series of heated discussions on the consequences to
However, secularism and capitalism, which have been present over the last few decades, may become the forces to destroy the precious traditional heritages. In other words, it is the cultural crisis in
Tibetan people have been marginalized on their own land; now they are the disadvantaged group in both economic and political activities. On one hand, values shaped by religious tradition have put Tibetan people in an awkward position in the competition against Chinese and Hui settlers. On the other, the absence of religious reign has given rise to carpi-diem philosophy that has resulted in ethical corruption and unhealthy materialism. In short, Tibetan traditional culture is facing massive destruction.
To address Tibetan cultural crisis, Tibetan cultural protection zone is an effective long-term solution. The survival of Tibetan culture depends on real cultural and economic autonomy of Tibetan people. In such protection zone, job security is the key to ensure a promising future for Tibetan people. The Tibetan authority should be given the power to restrict job access to outsiders and to revive vanishing traditions. Without such protective measure and efforts, Tibetan culture, especially its traditional crafts, may disappear in the foreseeable future.
Some people argue that such protection zone may fall into an enclosure of ethnic isolation. When we look at human history, however, the so-called “ethnic integration” (which has been imposed on Tibetan people since the Chinese occupation) is often the result of imperial conquest and political domination. Given this historic lesson, the “enclosure” created by Tibetan Cultural Protection Zone is not necessarily negative. Instead, it can provide a sanctuary for the preservation of priceless cultural legacy. Given
Every culture has its path to pursue its version of happiness, which is the result of traditional wisdom developed over a long period of time. Each path represents cherished lessons of proven experiences in a specific cultural context. In the age of globalization, however, cultural diversity is being replaced by American cultural hegemony. Many traditional cultures are now facing serious crisis due to the invasion of American cultural imperialism; modernization has been regarded by many the ultimate answer to happiness.
Modernization might be one of the ways to access happiness, but it is by no means the only one. Preservation of traditional cultures should not be confined to tourism development; neither should such efforts be considered as a benevolent endowment from any “advanced” civilization. It is an urgent task to preserve ancient wisdom embodied in Tibetan tradition because it represents a treasure house, a source of inspiration that can provide the solution to human predicament for the present and the future.
Many Tibetan people have opposed to the Tibet Qinghai Railway, not because they are against the idea of a more modern