|Tibetan monk jailed for assisting another monk with self-immolation protest.|
- How do you select a location to set yourself on fire? Should it be as public as possible to ensure your protest is heard? Do you consider how this act will impact those who witness the event directly?
- How do you decide what day and what time you will set yourself ablaze? Is there religious or political significance in the timing?
- What materials must you procure in advance? Do those who help you obtain the materials know what you plan to do with them?
- Is there a process for ensuring complete self-immolation? Is it as simple as dousing your clothing, your body, and your hair with gasoline and then lighting a match?
- Do you tell others about your upcoming protest in advance? Do you alert the media?
- Do your friends and loved ones know about your planned sacrifice? Do they understand and respect your motivations or do they beg you not to go through with it?
- Is there a specific prayer you say just before or during the blaze? If so, what specifically are you praying for?
- As you sought the answers to these questions yourself, did your commitment to this act waiver? Did you have doubts?
The last questions I have revolved around the motivation of these monks. I tried to imagine - what circumstances could lead people to feel they had to make such a heinous personal sacrifice in order to stage a protest? How bad must it be? Is there no other way?
I am certain that to some degree I take my personal religious (or non-religious) freedom as an American for granted. I am aware of how fortunate I am to be born in a country where I can decide to practice or not practice any faith of my choosing, but I am not sure to what lengths I would go to protect that freedom.
At this point, I feel confident that lighting myself on fire would not be in my realm of protesting options. But, who knows, I might feel differently if I were a Tibetan monk in western China.