It’s unusual in New Hampshire to have dreadlocks. There are only a small number of us who have, for whatever reason, chosen to let our hair become knotted, tangled, twisted, and matted. When we come across each other in public, we share an unspoken bond. A bond of itchy heads, perhaps, but a bond nonetheless.
A little-recognized fact about dreadlocks: when they become sufficiently long, the hairs at the end no longer directly connect to the scalp — they have long since lost their roots, kept stable only by entanglement with their neighbors. Perhaps there’s a societal metaphor there, you may search for it if you wish.
My dreadlocks have been growing for about twelve years, which means some of the hair I walk around with today is the same exact hair that was growing on my head twelve years ago. I’ve taken this hair wherever I’ve gone, which is actually quite a few places. My locks have been to a majority of the contiguous states in this country, spent a year in India, traveled around Mount Kailash in Tibet, back and forth across central China, hitched around Europe, and baked in the hot sun of the Sahara Desert as I made my way overland to West Africa.
These dreadlocks hold in them the exhilaration of travel, the inspiration of a spiritual journey, the exasperation of a return home, and the abiding fascination and love that I am finding in my current family life. It’s not lightly that I have decided to shave them off.
Why am I shaving my head?
To raise awareness of the human rights violations in Tibet, strangely enough. It’s true. The Chinese government is systematically torturing and murdering Tibetan Buddhist monks, nuns, and civilians, not to mention the less dramatic matters of discrimination, “re-education,” and outlawing spiritual and cultural practices. The mainstream media is carrying only the tamest of the stories. Many more stories, some verifiable and some not, are coming via telephone from Tibet to friends and relatives in India. Some websites linked below report stories that don’t always make it to the mainstream news.
Don’t worry: I know shaving my head isn’t going to help any Tibetan monks. Nevertheless, it is an assertion of my support for human rights, for religious freedom, and for peace in Tibet and the rest of the world. I believe we manifest positive change in the world by starting within ourselves. This act is merely a symbol of my feelings about the situation in Tibet: my outrage at the atrocities committed by the Chinese government, and my unity with those who are doing whatever they can (even at the risk of looking silly) to promote peace in the world.
This is not a political statement; the politics of Chinese occupation of Tibet is simply a matter of economic and military power. If it’s a statement, it’s a human statement. It says, please, brothers and sisters, be kind to each other. That is my wish, and if shaving my head helps me remember that wish then I will never look back.
No action is required on your part. Reading this is enough. Thinking about it is even better. Talking over your own values with those you love and trust might be good too. Once we are firmly rooted in our own peace, how can we help but change the world?
P.S. No, Locks of Love does not accept dreadlock hair donations. I checked.
Tibetan Human Rights links:
Head shaving links: