FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
Jessicah Pierre
A Revolutionary Idea to Close the Racial Wealth Divide
George Burchett
Revolutionary Journalism
Dan Bacher
U.S. Senate Confirms Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary
Nicky Reid
The Strange Success of Russiagate
Chris Gilbert
Defending Venezuela: Two Approaches
Todd Larsen
The Planetary Cost of Amazon’s Convenience
Kelly Martin
How the White House is Spinning Earth Day
Nino Pagliccia
Cuba and Venezuela: Killing Two Birds With a Stone
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Guadalcanal and Bloody Ridge, Solomon Islands
David Kattenburg
Trudeau’s Long Winter
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
Ellen Lindeen
What Does it Mean to Teach Peace?
Adewale Maye and Eileen Appelbaum
Paid Family and Medical Leave: a Bargain Even Low-Wage Workers Can Afford
Ramzy Baroud
War Versus Peace: Israel Has Decided and So Should We
Ann Garrison
Vets for Peace to Barbara Lee: Support Manning and Assange
Thomas Knapp
The Mueller Report Changed my Mind on Term Limits
Jill Richardson
Why is Going Green So Hard? Because the System Isn’t
Mallika Khanna
The Greenwashing of Earth Day
Arshad Khan
Do the Harmless Pangolins Have to Become Extinct?
Paul Armentano
Pushing Marijuana Legalization Across the Finish Line
B. R. Gowani
Surreal Realities: Pelosi, Maneka Gandhi, Pompeo, Trump
Paul Buhle
Using the Law to Build a Socialist Society
David Yearsley
Call Saul
Elliot Sperber
Ecology Over Economy 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail