With the exception of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit vendor who set himself on fire and thus sparked what became known as the Arab Spring, self-immolation has by all accounts become a failed form of protest as an agent of change.
Will the global cause spearheaded by the quirky monk, with such Hollywood champions as Richard Gere and Harrison Ford outlive him?
It's amusing to imagine what Alexis de Tocqueville would make of China recommending his 'Revolution' to its people. What China's leadership seems to have failed to notice is that the French Revolution is generally considered to have been a good thing by its people.
Over the last decade, amid China's growing hegemony in Asia, Nepal has turned from a sanctuary to a nightmare for Tibetan refugees. This tragedy is embodied in the way the Nepalese government has so far responded to Drupchen Tsering's self-immolation.
Even as desperate self-immolations among Tibetans still living in Tibet have increased in the past few years, there seem to be no signs whatsoever of China relenting on its cultural genocide there.
Born in Lhasa, Tsering Woeser has documented the unrest and self-immolations in Tibet for many years. She has famously said, "You have the guns, I have the pen."
She pressed the back of her hand to her forehead, feigned collapsing on the ground and then looked up, smiling. She spoke in English. "I'm tired," she said.
At a time of crisis in Tibet, instead of seeking to understand this gentle symbolism, the armed military response in Kyegu to placing scarves around a flower demonstrated a deeper truth -- that the Chinese leadership appears to have no other strategy on Tibet beyond oppression.
© Guy Laliberté - Algeria, Sahara Dessert, 2009 Print on cotton paper - 30 x 45 inches Edition of 15 The fire-eating accordion-player who fou...
Most don't know much about Tibet, a vast land of some of the highest peaks and widest deserts. The self-immolations are the hidden pain -- the ugly backstory -- that nobody wants to explicitly address.
Those who believe it's apples and oranges to compare ourselves to countries not of the same economic and social strata, can look at our allies and competitors and see the same disturbing trend.
Now is not the time to despair. It is the time to take action and tip the scales of history toward freedom in Tibet.
For all of the attention paid to the Bo Xilai scandal and circumstances involving government critics Ai Weiwei and Chen Guangcheng, one largely unnoticed case may serve as a barometer for China's future in this area.
Today, we too often believe that technology neatly solves a problem when in reality, technology merely shifts the nature of the challenges before us. I have no doubt that the inestimable Gene Smith deeply understood the depth of this issue.
E. Gene Smith's journey, which actually began 50 years earlier, crossed multiple borders and led to international humanitarian and academic efforts to find, preserve and make accessible the documents that form the core of Tibetan culture.
Print media, including magazines, that complain of reduced revenues, rising costs, shrinking circulation and see-sawing advertising, have felt the pinch, but thanks to innovative approaches, countless publishers are recouping their losses and widening their reach.