As a child in Tibet, I heard this story about a clever way to get rid of a ghost: Two friends were very close, they rarely went long without spending time together. On a certain day, both friends separately went about their daily business as usual. One was in an accident and died, the other was not and lived.
Not much time passed before the unfortunate one who had been in the accident appeared at his friend’s house. Having seen the dead body with his own eyes, the friend knew he was talking to a ghost, so he was afraid. People say that when the dead don’t know they are ghosts they can easily become angry with friends and family, causing disease or other harm. Careful to avoid making the ghost upset, he calmly said, “I am very busy right now, but we should get together on Black Donkey Day.” The ghost went away, then back came back the next day. This time he said, “I will see you on Black Donkey Day, unfortunately I have too much to do right now.” For the next several days, the ghost kept coming back and was always turned away with the same excuse. Over time, the ghost came back less frequently until his friend said, “You don’t need to come by here, I will go get you when Black Donkey Day comes.” The poor ghost is still waiting.
Some members of the Tibetan community have been treating women’s rights and other social issues like dangerous ghosts. I don’t know what they are afraid of exactly, but it seems that they have also heard the Black Donkey Day story and are using the same trick. Whenever I talk about some idea to make our community more equal, someone will always say we are too busy right now, but if I wait, we will definitely deal with equality or whatever other issue later.
It’s true Tibetan society is already managing a lot. We are busy, but that’s no excuse to ignore everyday problems. You never see Barack Obama going out in dirty clothes just because he has more important things to take care of than changing his underwear. America is working on curing cancer and sends people to space, but that doesn’t mean they let kids pee in the street. If you want to achieve something big, you start with getting the small things under control. If we are going to achieve big goals for the Tibetan community, we need to start by fixing our basic everyday problems. Instead of using our major issues as an excuse to delay social change until Black Donkey Day, our major issues should be the reason we make change immediately.