FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When “Jeb!” Bush Met the Dalai Lama

It happened at Florida International University in a previous century. The Dalai Lama had come to offer “A Message of Peace.” Then, as now, the world desperately needed that message. War and genocide in the Balkans filled the newspapers that announced his talk. The Buddhist leader’s pleas for love and non-violence moved the crowd to frequent applause.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush was on the FIU stage to present the Dalai Lama with an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree, “for his moral example.” He applauded the exiled Tibetan leader’s admonition that “compassion should be alive in the classroom” as well as in the home. But Bush pointedly withheld affirmation whenever the Dalai Lama decried violent methods of achieving peace as “short-sighted and narrow-minded.” The governor appeared to revere the Nobel peace prize winner’s stature, while remaining aloof from the implications of his beliefs.

Gentle and smiling, the Dalai Lama said that happiness is the goal of all human beings. “Self-cherishing is perfectly right,” he said, “but not at the expense of others. Without a strong self, we will lack courage and confidence. But extreme feelings of self may lead us to exploit or harm others. The concept of ‘we’ and ‘they’ is no longer true. We live in an interdependent world of interconnected humanity. To have a happy life, we must take care of one another.”

Neither Bush, nor FIU Acting President Mark Rosenberg, nor the Dalai Lama himself ever mentioned China. But it was China’s
actinglikeforcible occupation of Tibet, its destruction of Buddhist temples and its brutal policy of ethnic cleansing that drove the Dalai Lama into what has become an exile of more than half a century from his own land. Perhaps no one is more entitled to anger or sorrow at the plight of his people than Tensin Gyatso. But he voiced only humor and calm.

“Non-violence may not solve problems easily, so more patience is needed. Only dialogue in the spirit of reconciliation can solve problems. With violence, you may solve one problem but you create another, with immense side effects,” said the Dalai Lama. He might have been addressing the Clinton administration, whose policies in the Balkans, purportedly to stop Serb oppression of Kosovar Albanians, had only caused greater suffering and massive regional instability.

A Miami Herald editorial that day acknowledged that “war is ugly, messy and unpredictable” and regretted the “unfortunate, horrifying” NATO bombing of civilians. While the editorial admitted that “the campaign had clearly failed” its political and humanitarian objectives, it counseled “patience with NATO’s aerial campaign.” The Tibetan Buddhist would strongly, if gently, disagree. “Non-violent does not mean indifferent,” he told the university audience.

“The concept of war is outdated. Our ultimate goal should be demilitarization.”

Jeb Bush did not join the applause for that remark. As a 2016 presidential candidate he said he relies on his brother, George W., for foreign policy advice. Demilitarization is not on his menu.

“First get rid of nuclear arms. Then chemical and germ warfare. Then the military establishment itself can be reduced.” The Dalai Lama pointed to Costa Rica as an example of a demilitarized country that is “better than its neighbors,” spending its money on education and social services.

“Americans speak of democracy, liberty, freedom and the respect for law. This is wonderful,” said the Dalai Lama. “But when you deal with international conflict, you are still old-fashioned.”

“So many people eagerly await the New Millenium. But these great expectations are foolish without a new concept, a new transformation from within.” His Holiness acknowledged that such goals could not come quickly, especially because the minds of the older generation were hard to change. (But earlier, apologizing for his erudite, more-than-competent English language ability, he said he had only begun to study English at age 47.) He appealed to the younger generation to let values of compassion and non-violence inform their lives.

The Dalai Lama said he saw no contradiction for persons with strong religious faithe a a sens of One Truth tolerating the greater community of religious pluralism. He spoke of his own spiritual exchanges with Christian and Jewish leaders. “As a Buddhist, it is my responsibility to develop harmony and respect. Destruction of your enemy is destruction of yourself.”

Governor Jeb Bush did not join the applause for that line either. But he and we should take it to our hearts and stop making war in the name of peace.

James McEnteer’s most recent book is Acting Like It Matters: John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty Department.

 

More articles by:

James McEnteer’s most recent book is Acting Like It Matters: John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty DepartmentHe lives in Quito, Ecuador.

January 17, 2019
Stan Cox
That Green Growth at the Heart of the Green New Deal? It’s Malignant
David Schultz
Trump vs the Constitution: Why He Cannot Invoke the Emergencies Act to Build a Wall
Paul Cochrane
Europe’s Strategic Humanitarian Aid: Yemen vs. Syria
Tom Clifford
China: An Ancient Country, Getting Older
Greg Grandin
How Not to Build a “Great, Great Wall”
Ted Rall
Our Pointless, Very American Culture of Shame
John G. Russell
Just Another Brick in the Wall of Lies
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers Strike: Black Smoke Pouring Out of LAUSD Headquarters
Patrick Walker
Referendum 2020: A Green New Deal vs. Racist, Classist Climate Genocide
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Uniting for a Green New Deal
Matt Johnson
The Wall Already Exists — In Our Hearts and Minds
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Flailing will get More Desperate and More Dangerous
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Three
January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: When Just One Man Says, “No”
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Two
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail