Dalai Lama brought his message of compassion, loving kindness, and non-violence to Iowa yesterday, and I was privileged to be in Cedar Falls, with my son to hear him.
The theme of his day on campus was "Learning, Understanding, Wisdom," a hopeful progression His Holiness promotes to end violence. Though he was also realistic, acknowledging that humans can acquire knowledge and then use it to violent ends, throughout, he laid out challenging concepts that are inclusive rather than divisive and inspire further discussion.
For instance, he proposed a secular approach to moral teaching. But he expanded the definition of 'secularism' to include religious teaching. Not either/or, but both. The Character Counts! in Iowa program offers one approach to instilling values in school children. Would it be possible to bring that program together with religious moral teaching?
At another point, he responded to a panelist question about dealing with the problem of black men who are disenfranchised, respond with violence, and are incarcerated. The Dalia Lama's thought was to include these men in the solution, giving them value, and hope. What would happen if we posed the question as "How do we involve these men in the solution?" - Not 'We can't,' or 'It won't work,' or 'It's impossible,' but 'How do we make it happen?'
Even to have an open discussion of these topics requires educating the heart as well as the brain. A challenging endeavor in today's very divisive environment, but wouldn't it be sweet?