Several years ago, I watched "Cry Of The Snow Lion", and was invigorated by a scene three quarters of the way through, the famed Tibet Freedom concerts, spearheaded by the Beastie Boys.
The Milarepa Fund, started by Adam Yauch -- used music and musical venues to educate leaflets cited their mission, "Central to any widespread change are young people. Youth form a creative, energetic, idealistic, determined and intelligent force and given the resources, we are capable of using the tools of our culture to amass a widespread movement for change. As an organization, the Milarepa Fund actively supports the social change that the Tibetan struggle embodies, and we support the youth of the world who represent a powerful vehicle to achieve that change."
The seeds of this youth-driven movement for Tibet were planted 17 years ago, gained traction on the Lollapalooza Tour, and evolved into a series of Tibetan Freedom concerts. The first dedicated Tibetan Freedom Concert was held over two days, and featured bands like Smashing Pumpkins and the Foo Fighters; it raised $800,000 and had 100,000 attendees.
Much has changed in 17 years, but unfortunately, Tibet's situation has not. In fact, in the past two years, it has grown worse, and in an ironic twist, arrests, disappearances, and extended sentences to Laogai (reform-through-labor concentration camps) have increased for Tibetan musicians, filmmakers and writers.
Budgets don't exist today for concerts like they did 17 years ago, and album art has been downsized to fit a iPod screen, minimizing the message of liner notes -- but that doesn't have to stop messages from being heard. To reiterate -- we are STILL capable of using the tools of our culture to amass a widespread movement for change.
The tools of our culture have changed, our always online status allows us to sign a petition in less time than it takes us to find a pen -- to share a message with friends faster than we could stick a stamp on a chain letter, and in minutes access the issues of importance before we cast our votes for our community and national leaders.
Built on Respect has experienced a groundswell of support from musicians -- youth in Italy have coordinated fests for awareness, bands and TV personalities have taped and circulated videos -- and amazing individuals, like the members of the Street Dogs -- have made their songs and concerts platforms for activism.
The stage may have changed, but is STILL there for the youth of the world to achieve change.
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