May 5, 2011
Hope and Right Action
I was blessed enough to watch yet another joy-filled public speech by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama yesterday via live web stream, as he was presented the “Shine A Light On Human Rights” award by Amnesty International in Southern California. Amnesty International is an organization that has been relentlessly gaining efforts for the past fifty years toward human rights and integrity for all.
His Holiness began his speech addressing the world with the words “Thank you, brothers and sisters….” He went on to prove the point that as individuals, we are in many ways more powerful than our government to promote human rights and peace throughout. He gave encouragement, stating that individuals have a strong sense of creativity and passion toward issues, thus having a greater potential to contribute to making a change for our world.
The Dalia Lama continued, stressing that “We are all the same human being, all over the world, and make no discrimination. Generosity also means giving people protection and freedom from fear, for that is our human right.”
While accepting this award, he honored those who have been striving for equal human rights all over the world. He graciously stated “Determination and constant action, continuously making an effort toward peace and human rights will form results…no matter how difficult, no matter how many obstacles, we must continue with action. Failure doesn’t matter…keep working continuously.” For me, these words apply to most successes. Small failures may lead us to a different path, but world peace and human rights are important aspects of our human race.
In response to a question about the situation in China, he profoundly shared “China belongs to China’s people, not to a (political) party. We must continue to reach students, professors and intellectuals with truth. All Chinese people will have the right to judge what’s right and wrong. For two centuries, they have been our neighbor and instead of friendship, they want to create fear. The importance here is in creating friendships.”
A long-time Islamic member of Amnesty International asked His Holiness how he thought that Islamic American citizens could re-gain respect amongst Americans after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. The Dalai Lama lightly chuckled at the absurdity of American’s generalization that the entire Muslim community would be involved with such an act. He responded by stating “Since 9/11, we cannot generalize all Muslim, or Islamic community as terrorists-it’s unfair. Genuine followers of the Koran do not create bloodshed. These who believe in bloodshed are in “inner conflict” with themselves, which happens in all religions.” He shared with light humor, how he was invited to share a meal with a Muslim colleague and he was fed the most delicious Islamic-prepared tea and food, even though he is a Buddhist. “That kind of separation of individuals because they are Muslim, or Buddhist is out-dated and must change. We are all a human race.”
One lucky 9th grader had the privilege of asking His Holiness a question as well. He wanted to know what the youth can do about bullying. His response “That is a difficult question. We all know them (bullies), but to try to tell a bully what to do. (laughs) All these problems, I feel are because we lack education-we lack respect for one another and lack knowledge that we are one. To fix this, we need to pay more attention in education on how to build niceness. All of this is part of moral ethics and principles. Further investigate one’s motivation and inner quality. Thankfully we have laws for human rights. Get the law enforcement involved. If someone is bullying you, then fight back. (more laughter)”
After talking more about the freedom of Tibetans, His Holiness completed his speech with what I think is a lovely, promising statement. “I believe that in the near coming years, even as I am almost 76 years old and have gray hairs here, (attempting to pinch hair on his head, then moving to his eyebrow) and here, that I will continue to see more peace…in Tibet and all over the world. It is because of your enthusiasm.”
As a clear sign of his appreciation, he gave an enduring “thank you” to all who awarded him of this honor and assisted him off the stage, leaving us all with a feeling of warmth and hope.