Keep Calm and Carry On
The highlight of the week was hearing the Dalai Lama speak on Friday. The Library of Congress and the National Endowment for Democracy co-hosted an event that presented the Dalai Lama with the Democracy Service Medal in recognition of his commitment to advancing the principles of democracy and human dignity. Many people know the Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader and a leader of the Tibetan people. He has also defended the idea that democracy is not simply a Western concept, as some Asian leaders have claimed, but that it is a universal idea. In his talk, the Dalai Lama noted the contrast between the Indian and Chinese systems of government. While the Indian Parliament can be a loud and seemingly unruly place, its members are free to voice their dissent. In contrast, the Dalai Lama noticed that the Chinese legislature was much more orderly but dissent was not tolerated.
When NED’s Vice-Chairperson was trying to wrap up the event, the Dalai Lama interjected and said there was one more thing he wanted to tell everyone.
My American friends, sometimes you, I think, have too much excitement. If something positive happens, too much excitement. If something goes wrong, too much complain. Don’t do that. Of course on an intellectual level we must know right and wrong and good and bad. But on an emotional level, on a deeper level, you must try to keep calm.
His speech was great. But I have to say, that was my favorite part of the event. I think he hit the nail on the head – we Americans can be a pretty excitable bunch. You can be passionate about your beliefs, but maintaining a level of internal calm will help your cause, not water it down. And hopefully you will say less things you regret later!
In less weighty news, I have to report some celebrity sightings. We knew Richard Gere would be there, who is a strong supporter of the Tibetan cause. But I’m almost positive I also saw Michael Imperioli, of Soprano’s fame. (“Christopher, you sat on my dooowwg!”) I looked him up, and he is a Tibetan Buddhist – so it makes sense. Unfortunately, I was surrounded by the most Soprano’s-illiterate coworkers ever, so no one could confirm my visual.