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Everest: Closed for Business, Part II

Update – March 15, 2008

On today’s Weekend Edition on NPR, host Scott Simon shared an insightful and powerful commentary on the situation in Tibet, based on the emerging news of many deaths and violent riots in the Tibetan capitol, Lhasa, yesterday, and a state of complete lockdown in the city today, noting:

The protests of monks and others may not deliver freedom to Tibet
anytime soon, but freedom is an effervescent ideal that can’t be
bottled up forever.

Audio of Mr. Simon’s commentary will be available on the website in the next few hours. As always with Scott Simon, it is on target, bold, and emotional. Listen in!

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If our democracy is to
flourish, it must have criticism; if our government is to function it must have
dissent.   
Henry Commager

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Nepal: Everest CLOSED
May 1-10

According to the New York Times, Associated Press, and The Guardian, and many others, Nepal had officially caved to Chinese pressures and imposed its own ban on climbers going above 17,600 foot Khumbu Basecamp from May 1 – May 10, 2008, to avoid the potential for protests while Chinese climbers carry the Olympic torch to the summit from the Tibetan side of the mountain.

The move comes as Tibetan independence protests in Tibet, Nepal, India, (see images of the Tibet protests here) and elsewhere have been forcefully put down by authorities.

The implications of this ban reach far beyond the disruption of the climbing season on Everest. Sure, some climbers will be out of luck, their plans thwarted and summit hopes dashed. More importantly on that micro scale is the livlihood of countless Nepali and Tibetan support staff – climbing Sherpa, Rai, Limbu, Tamang, Gurung, and Magar cooks and porters, ethnic Tibetan yak herders and climbers – who will not have the lucrative Everest business to prop up their annual earnings.

And, more importantly, as I mentioned in my earlier post, it shows how nervous China is about any action marring its rosy pre-Olympic persona.

Unfortunately, what China does not see is that the Olympic spirit – the spirit they hope to embody and embrace for these upcoming games – does not ask for perfection. Rather, the Olympic spirit is one which asks for the greatest of effort to be the best one can be, to accept our shortcomings and strive to overcome them.

There has yet to be an Olympic host whose nation was the embodiment of perfection, for all nations have their imperfections, their mistakes and sad histories. In this regard, China is no different.

Rather than waging a war against dissent, against those speaking out for change, in an effort to sanitize the Games and the attitudes of those visitors who attend them, China could make a far stronger move by acknowledging its failings, be them social, environmental, political, or otherwise.

According to the China Daily, attendees of the upcoming games might be greeted by quotations from one of China’s greatest and most well-known people, Confucius. Perhaps China would do well to read some of his thoughts:

An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger.

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.

Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.

Or, perhaps a quote from Chairman Mao Zedong would be more appropriate:

Criticism is a part of the Marxist dialectical method which is central to Party improvement; as such, communists must not fear it, but engage in it openly.

Be sure to check out the excellent coverage on MountEverest.net and articles on The Adventure Blog and The Adventurist.

Jake Norton
is an Everest climber, guide, photographer, writer, and motivational
speaker from Colorado.

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