My boss kindly said to me yesterday, "I know this whole question of Tibetan freedom is deep for you, close to your heart, so if you need to take the day off on Wednesday to go protest the Chinese torch relay, I'm fine with that." [That, right there, is an example of how wonderful she is and how lucky I am.]
My reply surprised me a little. Really, I told her, that issue is very deep for me. I was stunned when the Chinese government referred to Dalai Lama as the "scum of buddhism" and accused him of fomenting terrorism.
But there's something else that has been driving me more. And that is, that as a San Franciscan, I feel it is my right, my privilege, my heritage, my duty to Stand Up in these situations. I was profoundly offended by the idea that the mayor was setting up Designated Free Speech Zones, as if the entire country weren't a designated free speech zone and as if San Francisco by definition wasn't the freest free speech zone in the entire world. If not here, then where??
Right now San Francisco is training a crucial spotlight on the issue of Chinese treatment of Tibetan people and culture. And San Franciscans and friends are turning up in droves. Just last night I attended a vigil with thousands of people, standing for hours in a cold wind, together on the issue of peace, self-determination and TRUTH.
For me as a San Franciscan, not being a part of the activities this week is akin to missing an earthquake. Maybe only San Franciscans can understand this visceral need to feel a part of big social changes, huge (sometimes cataclysmic) shifts in seemingly immovable tectonic plates. I don't think it's any surprise, really, that this area is so creative, so free -- our geology requires it!
Grateful again to have been raised here. Grateful again for what the city represents and for how it can come together in support of freedom for all.