Seeking Security Outside My Homeland, Inside My Country

23 04 2008

By Derek Beres

By the time the Fourteenth Dalai Lama fled Tibet in March, 1959, he had gone through a steady period of disillusion with Chinese officials, who had been offering much lip service to communism — a philosophy he thought was, in theory, practical and promising. The reality of those officials, spearheaded by one of the twentieth century’s most villainous characters, Chairman Mao, was anything but what he initially expected.

One of their unusual practices was a constant concern for his “safety,” as if leaving the Potala Palace at all was a constant threat on his life. At first the man formerly known as Lhamo Thondup was surprised at their generosity concerning his welfare. When they began suggesting that native Tibetans posed a threat, he knew something was suspicious. This was proven when these officials invited him to a dance performance at their post in Lhasa, telling him to arrive in secrecy (an impossibility for a man in his position). The citizenry found out, and united–tens of thousands of them — they blocked the entrance to the Palace so he could not leave. In the ensuing chaos sponsored by the Chinese army, he fled, eventually setting up camp at Dharamsala, where he resides today.

While in Paris this weekend, both of my cards — a bank-issued Visa ATM and a Mastercard–were denied after having used them once each. This put me in a tough situation, whereby I had to borrow money. Upon returning, I called Bank of America to find out what was going on. Turns out that they have implemented a new security measure to battle fraudulent claims. This is understandable — last year they successfully blocked a $930 charge to a Wal-Mart in Texas, after two smaller charges went through. (The timing was horrific, though — I had just landed in Alabama to lecture at the state university, and found myself having to borrow from my hosts.)

Fraud is a serious crime that is truly bothersome. That someone would steal the numbers of my account and go on a Wal-Mart shopping spree, after spending $35 at two different “wings” restaurants (on a vegetarian’s card, no less), is sad and depressing. Yet equally bothersome was the Bank of America representative’s assurance that all this was for my “personal safety” (a point she reiterated numerous times). She did not mention the article in today’s NY Times that stated the bank “raised its credit loss provisions to $6.01 billion from $1.24 billion,” and had a 77% decrease in its quarterly profit.

Click here to read the full blog on the Huffington Post

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