This morning, the Dalai Lama gave a fascinating talk at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster. It was on the subject of ‘Values of Democracy and Tibet’, and ably chaired by Dr Dibyesh Anand, an Associate Professor in the department, and a live wire in his own right.
A video of the morning’s lecture will be uploaded here http://www.youtube.com/user/DPIRWestminsterUni?feature=watch But essentially His Holiness described how the Twentieth Century was one of bloodshed, and we need to work hard – especially the young – to make sure the Twenty-First is one of dialogue. How should we build a peaceful, more equal century?
In his view, the world belongs to 7 billion human beings, and each country belongs to its own people (not their governments). There’s no doubt that the democratic system is the best way to rule the people by the people, and that censorship of any kind is immoral. China, too, belongs to its people.
He went on to explain how there used to be a lot of injustice in Tibet, where power was in the hands of only a few people, but that he has worked hard to set up democratic systems amongst the Tibetan community in exile. This has matured so much that, by 2011, he felt able to retire from political life and now wants to concentrate his energies on the subjects of human rights and religion.
Today, India is an important country in the world, and is a good example of how people of different ethnicities and faiths can live together reasonably peacefully. China, too, is a powerful nation and needs more respect and trust from the rest of the world. However their system of government is now an outdated one, and their legal system needs to come up to international standards. There is no question, in his view, that it will have to move towards democracy over time, since this is in its own interest.
We Tibetans, His Holiness said, are now looking forward, rather than to the past. It’s in our economic interest to be part of China, but we must have autonomy in other parts of life (education, the environment etc). Many Chinese intellectuals and students fully support us in our request for a ‘Middle Way’ resolution. Full independence is not an option in today’s world, especially since the USA, India and Germany, for example, would not support this position.
When asked whether fighting back against the Chinese would have been an option, he said that if you use violence it can so easily get out of control. Much better, therefore, to negotiate and try to live together and to learn from each other (as the Israelis and Palestinians might usefully do too).
Finally, he underscored how important education is, to ‘reduce the gap between appearance and reality’. In his view, we should all be educated in warm heartedness and compassion, but this is rare (a pilot project is being set up, to this end, in Delhi University). It is also important to respect all religions as well as non-believers, and to teach people a code of secular ethics…
See Beyond Religion by His Holiness, on this subject of secular ethics. Published by Rider Books