Not down with the Dalai Lama
I was headed out of town when I picked up the July 11-17 issue, the one with the Dalai Lama on the front. I had to drive 300 miles and then do a grueling festival, so I was unable to write immediately. Now it probably seems late and unimportant, and maybe it is. Nonetheless I feel the need to say something, so here goes.
Why is the Dalai Lama on the cover of Real Change? Apart from the obvious selling value I can’t see any reason for it. He’s royalty. He has never had to work a day in his life. When he gets sick he gets the best care instantly. He hobnobs with rock stars; he can meet with almost any head of state on the planet. You can’t do that and neither can I, and neither can anybody living in Nicklesville.
So why is he on the cover? I read that interview three times and found nothing that I couldn’t have gotten from a Hallmark card. He specializes in vagueness and double-sided soft observations such as: “For people without a home, it is almost like they have no basis from which to conduct their lives…. But from a larger viewpoint, I would say that this whole planet is our home.” Sounds good coming from royalty, but I still can’t go into Old Navy and spend the night, so it’s just drivel.
“But being homeless sometimes is useful, because you realize that in many places you can find a new home. If you have just one home, in some way you can get stuck in that.” Being homeless is useful? I know a lot of people who would really like to have “just one home.” The Dalai Lama has way, way, way too much privilege. When that guy left Tibet he was escorted by his handlers, who helped him carry his jewelry. And he was on the cia payroll at least until 1974, receiving $15,000 a month! That would make some changes in Nicklesville, wouldn’t it? As a recipient of the National Endowment for Democracy award — a body created under Reagan to “promote democracy”— he has been very useful to America.
Of course there’s the obligatory references to Chinese occupation and cruelty, without any mention of old Tibetan cruelty — the religious feudalism that ran things back then, making
5 percent of the population serfs. I am not praising anybody here, simply pointing out that the Dalai Lama’s usual mode of behavior is to be the beatific victim, and everybody pretty much just swoons. It seems like nobody ever challenges him on anything. Why not?
I point this out because I think the credibility of the paper is diminished by having him on the cover. It shows a lack of critical thinking. Who’s next, the pope? Homelessness and economic disparity will be solved by political means not by the vague musings of high profile personalities. I still buy the paper and I am still proud to be associated, but I do think this topic deserves debate.
Jim Page | Seattle (Page is a member of Real Change’s advisory board.)
Shades of grey in Lake City struggles
I was discouraged and disturbed to read Aaron Burkhalter’s article in which he reduced the future use of Station 39 in Lake City to a “for-or-against” issue (“Not in my fire station,” RC, June 27, 2012).
He implies that Lake City businesses and residents are all saying “not in my neighborhood.” This kind of black-and-white reporting of a complex issue does not foster community but rather incites anger and divisiveness.
I explained to Mr. Burkhalter that it is not a simple yes-or-no answer. Yes, there is an urgent and increasing need for low-income housing and services for the poor. And yes, we are struggling to be a healthy neighborhood in which families and businesses stay and grow.
But for now we have a reputation of being unsafe and unappealing. Many people do not feel at ease in our parks and on our streets especially in the evening. There are drug houses, “service resistant” homeless living on the streets, public defecation and urination and an increase in drug- and gang-related crimes. Few businesses are willing to risk opening in our neighborhood.
We are stretched as a neighborhood already. If the city asks us to absorb a higher percentage of lowest-income residents then the city needs to support us with an increase of amenities which serve all of Lake City.
We need amenities of which this wonderfully diverse neighborhood can use and be proud.
Let’s take a serious look at the civic core (in fact this is happening) and see how we can develop it over the next decades into a thriving center where all are welcome. And we need to do this before we jump to selling valuable civic core city property.
Let’s look at how we can grow as a neighborhood and do what it takes to help us live together in community, serving and supporting each other.
Since there is a history of the city soliciting feedback and then disregarding it, I now ask the city to please listen to us, a rapidly-growing north Seattle neighborhood that cares, not just for its own interests but for the community as a whole.
Annie Stocker Lake City
A symphony could sweep the street
Living downtown, I read with interest the article regarding Third Ave., between Pike and Pine (“Man on the Street,” RC, July 18-24).
Yes indeed it is a mess and difficult to walk through on the east side.
I have a suggestion that should not cost much in the way of public monies, and it has worked elsewhere.
Pipe in symphonic and/or opera music, which the loiterers cannot stand, at least as indicated elsewhere.
I realize that they will probably congregate elsewhere, but it will at least solve the present problem there.
Martin Paup Seattle