Friday, April 24, 2009

Dalai Lama: Good Words for America, President Obama

And, some pretty good advice. In my opinion.

The Dalai Lama is on a five-city tour of America, giving speeches, delivering a public lecture, and talking with reporters.

What he had to say about greed got quite a bit of attention. The Dalai Lama also had some good things to say about America and President Barack Obama, but I only found that reported by one news outlet.

Stereotypes, Assumptions, and the Dalai Lama's American Tour

I've gotten the impression that quite a few Americans have based their view of conservatives on re-runs of "All in the Family" and "M*A*S*H." There really were people like Archie Bunker, back in the 'good old days.' And, there still are opinionated bigots today. Some are conservatives.

Frank Burns is a caricature of a real sort of person, too: although I think he's more stylized than Archie Bunker. And, there are marvelously ignorant people with rigid and internally inconsistent ideologies today. Again, some of them are conservatives.

That's television. In real life, people don't sort themselves out quite as neatly.

I've been called a conservative, and I won't argue the point. In contemporary American culture, some of my views are "conservative." Others aren't. My opinion is that "conservative" is the cultural label that is least inaccurate in describing my beliefs. (More about what I am, in A Catholic Citizen in America.)
Labels are Useful - With Limitations
Labels are vital to communication: language is, arguably, nothing but labels for objects, actions, ideas, and all the rest of the phenomena we encounter. But a label is not the thing it identifies. And, a label may not be inaccurate.

The Dalai Lama could be labeled as a liberal: because he denounces greed. He could also be labeled as a conservative: because he regards America as a defender of freedom.

Or, it could be argued that the Dalai Lama is a slippery character who says what his audience wants to hear. I'm pretty sure that's the sanctioned view in China, whose leaders call Tibet 'Xizang province.' I suppose they can call it anything they wanted: they conquered Tibet a little over fifty years ago. Or, to use the more polite term, China liberated Tibet a little over fifty years ago.

More labels.

The fact is, China says that Tibet is Xizang province, and they've got enough troops in place to make good on their claim.

The Dalai Lama, Greed, and the American Way

Decades ago, in the afterglow of the 1950s, I ran across this definition of an American: Someone who buys things he doesn't need, with money he doesn't have, to impress people he doesn't like. Chasing after money and status never made much sense to me.

This, from a conservative?!

I have no objection to people trying to make money. I'm having a shot at doing that, myself: I've been a small business owner since getting laid off in the spring of 2006. But, I won't be like the character in "Brigadoon" who said, 'I'll lie for the company, I'll cheat for the company, I'll steal for the company: but I won't give up my ideals!' I think that's how it went, in the 1954 movie version.

And yet, I think I'm "conservative" by American standards. I
  • Admire, rather than despise, the American armed forces
  • I believe that people come to America because of this country's opportunities for prosperity - and guarantee of freedom
  • I do not regard America as the cause of most of the world's problems
Even after decades of the term being associated with the likes of Frank Burns and Archie Bunker, I think I'm a patriot by some standards. I don't have much choice: as a Catholic, I'm required to support the country I'm a citizen of - and I was born an American.

Finally: Some of What the Dalai Lama had to Say

  • Los Angeles Times
    • "...The Dalai Lama, in a ringing denunciation, declared Friday that the ailing global economy is the result of 'too much greed, and lies and hypocrisy.
    • " 'These are some of the factors behind the global crisis,' he said at a news conference at UC Santa Barbara. 'Those people who feel that money is the most important thing in life, when economic crisis hits, learn that it is only one way to be happy. There is also family, friends and peace of mind.'
    • " 'Therefore, this crisis is good,' he added with a laugh, 'because it reminds people who only want to see money grow and grow that there are limitations.'..."
  • KSBY
    • "...The Dalai Lama also shared insight on what caused the global economic crisis: 'Greed,' he said, 'greed.'
    • "Through it all was a message of attaining inner peace through acts of kindness and compassion - words from an exiled spiritual leader who has seen and experienced so much. 'Without a pessimistic attitude, full of confidence and human potential,' he said, 'work hard and try to change our way of thinking and also to some extent, our way of life.'..."
  • FOX News
    • "...'I think basically America is a champion of freedom, democracy, liberty,' he said before a series of lectures at the University of California, Santa Barbara. 'Occasionally the administration neglects these principles, but overall, I think these principles are very much alive in this country.'..."
    • "...'He seems, I think, very realistic, very open,' the Dalai Lama said, 'and he always reaches out to other people, even though some people create some problems. He always reaches out. That's, I think, wonderful. Very good.'..."
    • "...On the global economic downturn, he said there is a positive side - if one is willing to recognize it.
    • " 'I think the global economic crisis, in a way, is good, to teach people who usually see their luxurious way of life. Now, I think it reminds people there are limitations. It's unrealistic to always expect grow, grow, grow, grow,' he said...."
Related posts: In the news:

4 comments:

Indra Gunawan said...

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Brigid said...

Another great post, Dad. ^_^ Might want to look it over for typos, though. I noted a couple and this is with a fever!

(I may not share the Dali Lama's religious views, but I think he's got a good head on his shoulders.)

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Indra Gunawan,

Thank you for the good words. I took a quick look at your blog: and was impressed by your use of color. And, the artwork was quite pleasing to my eyes.

As for your being concerned about replying to comments (and not having time to do so): In your position, I would not be too concerned. Replying is time-consuming, and I hope that your regular visitors will understand.

(I use Blogger's option to email comments to me as they're made - that way, I can find and respond to accumulated comments when I do have time.)

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Looking for typos will have to wait - remind me later, okay?

As for the Dali Lama's beliefs: I agree that "he's got a good head on his shoulders." And, like all durable religions, his beliefs involve a great deal of natural law.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.