Friday, June 26, 2009

The Leap (Half) Year

My last post was in November 2008.

From then, changes have swiped across the entire globe with ever-increasing speed. Stocks crumbled and Wall Street rumbled. Millionaires dug their own graves and committed suicide, while the powerful danced to their own tunes and committed grave mistakes. Bloodshed was again seen in India when terrorists stormed Taj hotel on 26th November 2008 and left 183 dead, a strikingly similar event as what Pakistan experienced in September 2008 when a dump truck filled with explosives detonated in front of Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, killing at least 56. Iraq continued their civilian unrests till this day, with a series of recent attacks leaving nearly 200 people dead ahead of a U.S. military withdrawal next week, while Iran, as of this moment, experienced one of the most vocal and democratic street protests. Afghanistan is currently gearing up for its Presidential election in August, while North Korea defiantly ignored world concerns and protests, and proceeded to conduct its own missile activity.

In the midst of all these, and more, virus H5N1 and H1N1 have silently arrived at humanity's shores. Before we could breathe a gasp of air of tranquility, environmental issues, coupled with the shadows of bacterias and infections, have above all else come to remind us the limitations of human lives, as well as the interconnectedness of our lives with our surrounding.

How timely a well-packaged package, so to speak, would arrive at our doorstep to present to us a present of consciousness and awakening? It could not be a better time, when arrogance and greed, as rightly pointed out by Dr. Daisaku in his Peace Proposal 2009, surfaced as the root causes of this round of the world's financial breakdown. It injects a sense of realisation into us, the almost-almighty beings living on this planet, that beyond the borders of finances and achievements there lies a greater plain of endeavours, namely humility, responsibility and fragility.

Where one is struggling to find a standing spot on the ground to withstand the demoralising winds of restructuring, retrenchment and unemployment, it may well be worthwhile to pause for a moment and assess all events, happened and happening still, the meaning of all these phenomenas. "WHEN it comes to studying the teachings of Buddhism, one must first learn to understand the time" (The Selection of Time, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin - Page 538), so says Nichiren, the founder of Buddhism that forms the underlying religious foundation of Soka Gakkai International's activities. True to these words, it can be readily seen that in this time of 'worst depression' since 1930, it is in fact the best time for one to reflect the true meaning of our existence and worth.

A man of wealth can never come to grasp the pain of poverty and loss. It is only in the time of recession and depression, marked by financial and material losses that he/ she can come to comprehend mutual sentiments. It is only in such a time that he/ she is compelled to step out of the long-lived shells and be connected with what another person might experience, and what the world-at-large transits through, when losses, separations and even deaths occur. It is perhaps also in such a time that he/ she would come to reflect internally and be enlightened to the truth that what one person is, after all, not much of a different from another when anxiety, sadness, misery and pain are concerned. On this platform of inner cosmos, we are in fact all standing on the same plateau, breathing the same air, facing the same moon, feeling the same wind.

The world has for a moment paused, due to this economic breakdown and recessive motions. Thanks to this moment of stoppage, the visions of humanity can for once be drawn onto the urgently-pressing yet highly-ignored environmental degradations. It is no surprise that one can easily detect the unusual heat and temperature-rise, as Singapore, a country located near the Equator, proceeds into the mid-band of 2009. Singapore is not alone; the whole world IS experiencing a temperature rise, and the fastest and most direct effect on our planet would be a meltdown of icebergs at both our planet's poles. In a matter of decades, if not years, a sea-level rise will be inevitable. Humans will be forced to relocate uphills as our coastal shorelines ascend drastically, savagely consuming large portion of agricultural lands. Resources will be made limited, when a congregation of immensely huge number of people living on a decreasing amount of land, with fresh water, fisheries, forests and other food supplies either controlled by the minority or contaminated by soil erosion and air degradation. The end result, as Homer-Dixon (1994) hypothesized in his theory of 'environmental scarcity', is the generation of 'human acute conflicts', where 'interstate wars for renewable resources, group identity conflicts due to large population movements, and deprivation conflicts such as civil strife and insurgency' would destabilise humanity's very existence.

Dr. Daisaku sets out in his far-sighted proposals the reclamation of humanity's consciousness as a group of beings borned with the capacity to be enlightened and and living together in harmony and peace. He challenged us in building a culture of 'peaceful competitions', borned out of fervent the wish of channeling humanity's unlimited wellspring of energy and creativity into positive undertakings, amongst us and between nations. In it he described the value of 'humanitarian competition', a term first set out by the first president of Soka Gakkai Tsunesaburo Makiguchi in his 1903 work The Geography of Human Life, where he envisioned from nations and nations to civilisation and civilisation competing each other for the purpose of contributing to the positive changes to societies and the world. Makiguchi had observed the changing tides of human history and concluded that as human beings began their civilisation from warring and conquering, which marked a Civilisation of Military, the settlements and tranquility brought on a Civilisation of Politics, where humans proceeded to deal with each other on the platform of rules and laws, rather than on the military's. With the political elements set in placed, humanity began to search again for a greater meaning beyond the frameworks of politics, and thus the Civilisation of Economics came in. It was in his time that Economics, and more so after the two World Wars, became the pillar of humanity's progress and flourishment. From then on we are born into this frantic world of ever-changing and ever-chasing, constantly building our wealth and elevating our statuses, all for the sole purpose of achieving 'happiness'. In a nutshell, and certianly without our realisation, 'happiness' has long been equated with wealth, social standing and certainly financial influentiality.

In his very words, Dr. Daisaku said in his 2009 peace proposal, "I am fully convinced that the time has now arrived, a hundred years after it was originally proposed, for us to turn our attention to humanitarian competition as a guiding principle for the new era." Indeed, as we now witness the unfolding dramatic events of the world, day by day, we may come to realise that it is in the worst of time that the best of all resides. In exact accordance with the Buddhist principle of Law of Causality, it is right in the muddiest pond that the lotus flower blooms the fiercest, and while the flower manifests the glorious beauty and fragrance, the unseen and uninviting seed is already found within it. Life supports life, while birth and death are one single entity. Dr. Daisaku's calling for the seizure of time to act decisively and wisely is in all sense a calling to our own consciousness to reflect and re-direct. From deep within humanity will find her own path of future to walk ahead and out of this forest of confusion and chaos, and into the magnificent garden of humanitarianism and social-volunteerism. It is from there that peace between nations can be forged, and harmony between humans and nature can be achieved.

As we leap into the next half of 2009, may our thoughts go out to all those who are struggling in this turbulent world still.


Reference:

Homer-Dixon, T.F. (1994). Environmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict: Evidence from Cases. Retrieved on 10/01/2008, from the Universtiy of Toronto Libraries website http://www.library.utoronto.ca/pcs/evidence/evid1.htm

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Changing November

It's the first day of November, 2008

How time flies! In a blink of the eye we are approaching the finishing line of 2008, the second last month of the year, and the period which humanity comes to hold on her breath and welcome the final worldwide festive - Christmas. A day where everyone would greet each other with open arms and warm embrace, wishing one another the best of the person in the coming new year, with just six days short of its arrival.

November thus makes itself almost a preparatory stage for everyone to gather and pause, to collect and reshuffle, to dispose and move on. It is almost like a universal reminder to everyone living and breathing on this planet, a gentle wake-up call, of the urgency to re-collect oneself amidst the hectic and frantic schedules of returning to one's primal objective set in the beginning of the year.

It is a simple yet straightforward push in sounding us the importance of remembering what is truly important to us - a time for our inner spiritual growth - before we are lost in the endless pursuit for career calculations and material desires.

It is with this in mind that my thoughts led me to wander to the current US Presidential election, taking place three days later on 4th November, on the soil of country which expounds and exports the practice of Democracy. It is with my belief that all genuine changes, engineered by great passion and powered by strong conviction, inevitably comes to encounter greater inertia and obstacles. The resistance to change, or adopting any of it, is inherently found in every sentient and insentient being: humans take a long while to propel out of their habitual actions, while motorcars take a longer route to come to a full halt.

Bruce Lee, the world renowned martial-arts actor, was born in the month of November. When he began his learning path on Chinese traditional martial arts he realised he was facing a thousand-year-old school of conservationism, deeply rooted and rock-solid. Contrary to his vision and belief that all humans can learn the art of martial fighting, he had encountered a tidal wave of self-censoring traditions that went against his will - complacency of schools self-absorbed in their own styles and techniques, fear of the teacher imparting the entire set of knowledge to his disciples, and the arrogance of the institutions proclaiming their own styles to be the best.

In his own words, Bruce observed impartially and sharply, "...when clans are formed, the people of a clan will hold their kind of martial art as the only truth, and do not dare to reform or improve it. Thus they are confined in their own tiny little world. Their students become machines which imitate martial art forms."

This, to Bruce, was something entirely against his dream and desire - he had hoped for all martial arts practitioners in coming together, openly sharing and unreservedly exchanging, with full honesty and clear conscience. It was a principle he had lived by, and which he wished strongly others to be of so. In his own philosophical expression, Bruce said, "I have not invented a 'new style,' composite, modified or otherwise that is set within distinct form as apart from 'this' method or 'that' method. On the contrary, I hope to free my followers from clinging to styles, patterns, or molds." True to his lifelong pursuit Bruce had earnestly sought to 'free' the minds of all practitioners from the four walls of rigidity and dogmatism, and be truly self-empowered with the true form of martial art.

It was also in this spirit that Bruce Lee went on to learn one school of art after another, one style after another, and one technique after another. From the Southeast Asian art of Silat to Western boxing and fencing, he studied intensively and deeply. From this single-mindedly desire, and at the young age of 27, his lifelong pursuit for an integrative system, 'Jeet Kune Do' was founded. It was, in a nutshell, an art which broke down all confining walls of rigid traditions and barriers of conservative beliefs, and of which successfully integrated all styles as well as bringing all strengths together.

While many in the world revered Bruce Lee as a great martial art actor, he was in the truest sense, one who stood by his conviction and belief in tearing down the obstacles, one by one, for learning the martial arts, and pushing wide the centuries-old rusted doors in allowing every commoner in the street to enter. He had truly wanted everyone to be strong and able.

In this sense, what Bruce had done is echoed by the current US presidential candidate Barack Obama. Experiencing first-hand the death of his mother and raised by his white grandmother, rising from this humble background, he stood up for the people of America and more importantly, for all regardless of colour or religion. Cherishing the dream of inroducing genuine changes to America, he was ridiculed for being young and inexperienced, and was targeted once and again for being a threat to the survival. To those who had their minds closed and long shut off, youths who hold on to a burning heart and passionate desire are certainly threats to the already-established and deeply rooted traditions and cultures, something these people are comfortably relying on to live their lives by. They would in all aspects choose not to disturb the structures and paradigms; anyone doing so would be regarded as anti establishment and social threat.

Both Bruce and Obama suffered unfounded criticisms. For Bruce he was surrounded by leaders of the various schools, who regarded his new-found style as 'unorthodox' and against traditional foundations. For Obama, he was attacked for his racial lineage to a white grandmother. Throughout the tunnels of time, it had been evidently recorded that great persons of passion, whenever they stood up for great causes, would invite unfounded citicisms and ungrounded lies. Such are the fundamentals lurking in the lives of those who delivered the attacks, resorting to low-handed tactics and viscious, cunning devices with the sole objective of bringing these men of courage down.

Those in power fear those whom are passionate; those who control are wary of those who inspire, while those grounded on traditions detest those who speak of changes. In all ages, rulers seek to divide and hurt while genuine leaders forge to unite and heal. It has been so, and shall still so.

This post has been written over a span of three days. As I approached the end of this post, my laptop's clock rests on 3rd Nov 2008, 2310 hrs. The time has come for America, on the other side of this beautiful planet, to make a choice. Would they choose change over tradition, passion over fear, unity over division, self-reliance over hard-empowerment, and youthfulness over experience? Or would they decide on the contrary?

History shall be written today, while I believed change is already on the way.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Religious Humans & Humanised Religions

Dr. Daisaku Ikeda presented his annual Peace Proposal titled "Humanizing Religion, Creating Peace" on the founding anniversary of the Soka Gakkai International, 26th January. One can read the entire text here.

While I have not read it through thoroughly, I have certainly taken time off to read the synopsis. It is another monumental effort by Dr. Daisaku to guide the world into perceiving the fundamental element of this human platform - practising religions and their spiritual ideologies, to the correct path of acknowledging 'humans' as the rightful centrality.

Incidentally, six months later, one Buddhist priest, who is the head of several temples here in Singapore, Hongkong and Malaysia, and who is also holding executive positions for five other charities, is charged today for four counts of criminal offences, primarily involving contractual lending of large sums of money supported by purportedly falsified records.

It is a case too many, as the case of former National Kidney Foundation chairman, charged and imprisoned for fabricating false invoices for misleading the multi-million organisation and committing uncharitable acts of extravagance, still linger fresh in the minds of many ordinary Singaporeans. The common folks walking on the streets could not be more heart-wrenched, given the fact that they were the ones who forked out that very precious dollar or cent in donating to the temple for a simplest wish of wishing well for oneself and the world.

Coindentally, echoing this unfolding, dramatic episode from afar is the foreign news of the first visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Australia. Though the fervent heat of welcoming him to this land of migrated Aborigines is strong, the protests against clergical sexual abuses accompanying the cheers are equally rousing and seizing. In a single event of historical significance, both the visitation and confrontation possess unprecendented brilliance in their own rightful manner.

As this post is penned, the Venerable has been charged in court, placed on bail pending trial, while the honorable Pope, in the midst of his religious address, made an abrupt deviation from his prepared script and, on behalf of the many priests who have had abused their statuses and power in abusing their young faithful believers, many whom looked up to them with utmost respect and sincerest trust, offered his long-awaited apology to victims and their families.

It is no doubt a strange union of charity and religions at this instant that one comes to be awed by this strange coincidence. The weakness in the human hearts, for charity and toward religion, is critically magnified and amplified in these simplest two cases of mismanagement and cover-up - it is a soft-spot lied in all of our traditional beliefs and conventional logic, where we come to formulate the most-accepted perspective that a charity leader cannot do wrong, and that a religious leader cannot be fallen. It is in fact a universal, in-born desire to see that kindness will reap goodness, compassion will sow beauty, and justice will bring forth the truth.

From this silent yearning which springs from the depths of our lives since day one comes the actions of donating that very single cent to the charities, and entering and committing whole-heartedly to the religious institutions. In the endless cycles of life and death, human beings actively seek out to fulfill that unseen yet tangible, compelling inner call in doing good to others presently, while seeking out a higher order in wishing their lives to return the goodness to them in future. It is a humanistic river of conscience and consciousness running at the most fundamental level of our lives, connecting us all and relating to us in unity. It is thus of no modified or pretentious presentation in any way, but that of a genuine, outright and straightforward sentiment found in the every sincere donation when the donors brought forth their notes and cents to these organisations. They truly wish for their own, as well as others', lives to rise and shine with brilliance of happiness.

However, in both the context of history and current affairs, they have taught and shown us that it is the leaders living and breathing on this Earth whom will and shall determine the direction, and consequently the fate, of the groups and organisations they are leading. It is ultimately a question of whether the leaders themselves have fought hard against their own devilish forces of greed and lust for power, fame or status, and in furtherance whether they have allowed these forces to seep out of their bodies and slowly mutating into the organisations' organs.

SGI President Ikeda, in his latest Peace Proposal, explicitly and openly pointed out the one single most important primal point for humanity - the revolution of every aspect of our human civilisation around the one single core, which is by and large, humans. As he rightfully pointed out humanity has lost sight of this most important focus point, and in the context of religions, such loss-sightedness is even more blatant as religions, the foremost enlightened platform in the entire human world, has been degraded to be a machinery for corrupted humans to exercise, perform and achieve their own personal agendas and objectives. Humans in these religions are no longer humans; they have lost sight of their own humanity and thus their own identities as well. Instead, humans in these groups become subservience to their organisations, and in the end no longer is 'happiness' the central core of these religions anymore.

Enhancing this vile cycle is the hopelessness and hedonistic principles ravaging humanity's lands. Against this disorderly state, religions with ulterior or personal motives sprout and seize the chance in seizing humans by their thoughts and actions. They successfully created a legion of faithful followers where they would carry out activities not with the aim of achieving human happiness but chaos and suffering. What we are witnessing around the world, as of today, is a testament presented clearly by Dr. Ikeda. It is an urgent call to the whole human race in returning to our inner primal point of re-discovering our humanity. It is from here that all others matter, and all else spring from.

This post has been deferred time and again. On this morning of 08/08/08, where it is by the hands of fate and chance to be once every hundred years, I muster up my courage in facing this long-overdue post and gotten myself determined into completeing it. While the post maybe disengaged in some parts or another, I know I have connected one part of me with another, and traveled deeper into my own being into perceiving and understanding myself a little more.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Walking The Middle Path - Bridging The Gap Of East And West

I came across an article recently, when I conducted an internet seach for 'Lotus Sutra'.

It was a contributive analysis between the thousand years' old sutra, preached by Shakyamuni, and the modern-day President of Soka Gakkai International. One is able to read the full text here.

The gist of the article made comparisons and drew similarities between the sutra and the man, focusing on the expounded philosophies in the book and the conducted actions of the human, and the manifesting results that illuminate from the every change and progress brought forth by the two vehicles of philosophy and compassion.

If one is to take an extended long perspective into human history, one would be able to see that it was chaos first all around, and then dust settling and finally systems generated, either by nature or by intervened construction. This applies to both the natural and human worlds, where long before our ancestors of Homo Sapiens and/ or Erectus roamed the surface of this planet, meteorites and planetoids were bombarding the face of the Earth. It was believed that after all impacts and instability had receded the Earth began to form the inner core, then proceeding the outer. From there, oceans were formed and lands were gathered. Molecules started their own lives and replicating, evolving, magnifying and multiplying.

Human lives were as such. Long before there were civilisations, our ancestors fought with one another to keep oneself alive. Then was certainly a jungle-warfare, and a survivor to each his own. When the period of civilisations settled in, nations were built, boundaries marked and armies thus maintained. Still, wars rose from the four corners of the world, and occupations, invasions and intrusions kept human lives under an umbrella of constant chaotic sufferings. It was in the midst of this entire set of commotions that humans embarked on the journey of pondering over the most fundamental of their existence: what is one's happiness in this lifetime, and how should one obtain it?

From this primal point of human consciousness, the East and the West thus began a journey of spiritual exploration. While the history of the West was mainly represented by Judaism and Christianity, the East adopted an approach totally different from their monotheistic counterparts - they looked inward and internal, posing questions and seeking answers from where they believe is the origination of everything: their own lives. From Buddhism to Confucianism to Taoism, all are but inward-looking yet far-reaching, peace-promoting yet thought-provocating, material-sanctioning yet all-embracing.

It was against this background that the West came to develop much stronger and of a hastier pace. It was this nature - the hunger for material success and greed for wealth - that they began to build all-invading colonizing power that swept across the Southern hemisphere with ease. With the rise of the West came the humbling of the East at their mercenary mercies. It was then a development of two contrasting routes of human spiritual evolutions - the West began their immersion into the vast accumulation of wealth and materials, and the enjoyment distilled from these sources, while the East silenced herself at the sight of the onslaught of her local people and lands. These expressions signified the totally different approaches of the Eastern and Western peoples to the unfolding, never-ending secular events, and both the outlook of their forward and inward-looking attitudes toward life respectively.

As the Chinese saying goes, "物极必反", all matters in this world will come to reverse once they have reached their ends. The same can certainly be told of these developments: the West came to be caught up with a downward spiral of unending hedonism, resulting a generation of moral decadence of what the world is witnessing now. On the contrary, the East has been tied up in its own invisible yet unbreaking web of theologies and principles, hardened logics and cold calculations, which is found in the detached stances generally displayed in the Eastern cultures and traditions of 'non-invasiveness' or '-intrusiveness'. Herein lies the true cultural and mental models between the Eastern and the Western peoples.

It is in this era, where the world came to witness two world wars, and ended with two activations of atomic bombs, that SGI President Daisaku Ikeda came to bear the brunt of bridging this widening gap. With no other purpose except to see no human to suffer under the spell of continuous merry-making or lifeless preaching, he began a worldwide journey of propagating the theory of 'The Middle Way'. Based on Nichiren's teaching on the Lotus Sutra of the 'Three Truths' - Ku (空 - voidness), Ke (假 - temporal forms) and Chu (中 - middle path), Daisaku Ikeda began to teach the world that there should be no absolute reliance on either on of the two elements - invisible concepts or tangible matters. If one is to attach heavily on either one of the two, he/ she begins to lose the true identity of a human being.

The end result is either one depending too much on the physical body, and all materials around it, to derive happiness and satisfaction, or swinging to the other end of the spectrum to rely solely on practicing and implementing rigid and dogmatic self-righteous theologies. Neither one will lead one out of misery and into the realm of absolute happiness, for these the first attachment drags one into short-lived but certainly empty fulfillment, while the latter pushes one deeper in the whirlpool of anger and dissatisfaction toward society and the world-at-large by discarding every mean and end to be enlightened to one's inner immovable life-condition.

Against all odds, Daisaku Ikeda began his journey of Middle Way forty-years ago. Visiting communist countries Russia and China while paying tribute to the capitalist America, praising the beauties of the East while engaging the virtues of the West, he has taught the world, through his actions and thoughts, that what humanity needs now is not an unrestrained rush into the garden of materialism; neither is humanity requiring a set of suffocating and unbending rules. Instead she must be guided to the enlightening pinnacle of detaching from these two elements, and coming to the rightful path of walking the centre of these forces, falling to neither one and focusing back on the most important yet long-forgotten single element - the human happiness.

Thus, as he has expounded, all worldly structures and institutions mankind has ever created, be it religion, principles, morals, theologies, sciences, finances and education, are to be regarded as "merely means to achieve and obtain human happiness". Any deviation from this path will lead humanity into misery and never-ending conflicts. True to these words, one is able to justifiably witness a disintegration of objectives humanity has set in the beginning, from religions to education, where inceptively noble visions were indeed beautifully and passionately penned down by their founders.

Conclusively humanity has certainly lost the ability to not only enlighten and edcuate herself, but the very instinct of realising her amnesic disorientation in the thick woods of human constructed world. She has forgotten the most basic purpose of arriving in this world: to be truly happy, and to make this world an unshakable eden of happiness. All other objectives would be, and should be, secondary.

In a nutshell, humanity's lives is likened to the lotus flower: to choose to be born in a muddy pond, but oneself be unstained by the surrounding dirt. How to be as simple yet profound as it is perhaps humanity's greatest challenge so far, yet.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Torch of Flaming

The world has seen a whirlpool of uncertainties engulfing it in recent times.

Oil prices have risen to a historical high, the Earth's land surface temperature for March has recorded a warmest mark, with the overall (land and ocean) surface tempreatures taking a second spot in the 129-year record book, and food prices rocketing to worrying peaks.
These are issues far from us, yet affecting our very thread of senses and lives, in every single moment passed.

In the midst of all these, humans have joined in the ranks of protesting or supporting the relay of the Olympic torch, which is passed from country to country, continent to continent.

It is suppose to be a celebrative event which unites humanity for the single goal of embracing each other for the pursuit of solidarity and unity, exchange and interaction, understanding and cooperating.However, as all worldly events are, there would be some inflitration of political, social or personal emotional elements, injected by either deliberate or unintentional acts. Complications will arise and sub-episodes will unfold; as the participants of these events come to be carried away, they can no longer see that they are no further from where they have begun - the primal objective and desire have totally been lost in the forested fanaticism and incited excitement.

China has always been in this unique, if not queer, position. From the time of Qing dynasty, the last empire before the formation of the people's government, the world had seized its timely chance in correcting and educating this fragmented country. It is a stance adopted almost with the shadowy hint of a strict parent peering down and lecturing a misbehaved child.

To certain extent, China has discarded what were originally placed on her shoulders - the responsibilities of securing peace and prosperity for her common people. In between every page of China's history, countless innocent lives were lost in the abyssal tides of political instability, social upheaveals and judicial downfalls. Those were the times when bodies were trampled on and lives disposed off, in the most easy and unimaginable way. It was, in a word partially, if not fully, responsible for what had befallen on it in the later half of the dynasty - the invasion of foreign powers in the name of liberation from its own domestic unrests.

While times have progressed and tides have ebbed, memories are evidently imprinted in one's mind and impressions branded in one's heart. What China was once is still largely remembered as unchanged to many. The sins and wrongdoings of the past are brought forward onto today's soil, and before they take root and sprout, poisoning the land and polluting the air and water, the inherent sense of justice brewing in the lives of many springs up to respond to the call of fighting the evil. It is with such audacious fervency that the torch of Olympic has come to scorch the sentiments of the protesters - China is simply unqualified to host a internationally human-centred event when the human-rights records have reflected otherwise.

In the wake of the torch relay, the call for freeing Tibet has never been louder. Flamed by the Western media, the fires of anger and violence rose to a higher height. Where the torch is symbolically regarded as flame of hope and signified as the fire of passion, and the torchbearers as representatives of human solidarity, crossing borders and transcending barriers, the media have seized the opportunity in relaying a wholly different message altogether. What is supposed to be an entirely sporting event has seen political and social interests infiltrating it. The struggles of the torchbearers in passing on the torch undisturbed and unhindered are consequently and significantly shadowed by the fights between the supporters and protesters of the event.

On a hindsight, and true to reality, both parties have mistaken their abilities in shaping the world: torch-relaying can never truly establish barrier-transcendental understanding; likewise, media-flaming can neither come close to altering the political terrain of a country. In a single moment of fixated scene, these two groups of excited and agitated humans can be seen representing two totally different ideologies but sharing one single torch of passionate yet misled belief.