Julie Peters


Kundun Inspires Action

Julie Peters

I attended the Democrats' premier of Martin Scorsese's `Kundun'. It is a beautifully crafted piece of cinema; it tells part of the story of the fourteenth Dalai Lama; from his discovery until his flight into India. The photography is beautiful and so is the soundtrack. I particularly loved hearing the rich harmonic singing of the Tibetan monks. The political issues are certainly addressed; what we would describe as the Chinese invasion of Tibet, the Chinese faith in socialism, claims to be the liberation of a backward people from feudalism. We see a peace loving people very easily overrun and their delicate ecosystems abused.

I found the descriptions of life in Tibet fascinating. And we received an introduction to Buddhist thought. During Kundun's training we hear the Buddha's `Four Ennobling Truths'; understanding suffering, letting go its origins, realising its cessation and following the eightfold path to its cessation. These are not propositions to believe but they are challenges to act. The eightfold path of morality, meditation and wisdom is true awareness, true resolve, true speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right meditation. These are totally consistent with the 23 noble objectives of the Australian Democrats; which I usually summarise as `Social Justice', `Protection of the Environment' and `Conflict Resolution' but they could be just as easily be summarised as `The Elimination of Suffering'.

Amnesty International lists many abuses of human rights by Australia. Howard's ten point plan and our blind faith in economic irrationalism are bent on increasing suffering. And this is true for so many indigenous peoples in our region including the Tibetans, the East Timorese and our Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders.

This film very powerfully raises political awareness; but for it to be effective we need to take it further; to raise these issues legislatively. In Australia we have the freedom of speech to demand justice. As Democrats, our parliamentary representatives do that very effectively; they need our support to be re-elected. Kundun inspires us to be as politically effective as our means and abilities allow!

© Copyright Julie Peters 1998
Contact julie@natasha.ironbark.id.au