This past Friday, I attended the Dr. Tenzin Robert Thurman lecture, sponsored by the UVM Asian Studies Program, titled: “The Dalai Lama’s Millennial Ethic of Intelligent Nonviolence: Sources in Tibetan Buddhism and Prospects in Our Troubled World.” The speech gave insight into much of what is going on in our world.
Dr. Thurman was tastefully opinionated, albeit certainly leftist in his comments. He praised Vermonters of the room for Jim Jeffords’ party switch and stressed how important it is that we all vote.
Then, after a quick clarification of Buddhism and the important point that Buddhists have no desire to “recruit” other people to be Buddhists, Dr. Thurman began listing statistics, facts and points made by the Dalai Lama. Perhaps most striking was that the world budget for arms and defenses totals over 700 billion dollars.
But this is what was so powerful about Dr. Thurman’s lecture: he did not subtly imbed his views in a sermon on Buddhism-rather, he chose to freely voice his opinions, and support his argument with strong and thoughtful information. The truth of the matter is that Americans cannot afford not to vote. September 11 may have had negative effects in many ways, but it is nothing compared to what has happened to other countries. Consequently, voting is imperative. Yet, in this country, only 100 million people voted in the last presidential election.
One thing, though, that America should be proud of is its initial revolt from the European Imperialist. But while America stood up against the Imperialists generations ago, it has adopted the new mentality of subordinating countries before they are even able to pose a threat.
Dr. Thurman also wanted to emphasize that with the current weapons of mass destruction, a cataclysm is not at all implausible. Thus, with the current looming situation in Iraq, the Dalai Lama is focusing his attention on the preservation of Peace.
The Dalai Lama, along with Dr. Robert Thurman, wish to focus their energies on Mutual Unilateral Disarmament, or MUD. This seemingly paradoxical term is meant to convey that there will be a moment of uncertainty when two (or more) countries are disarming and destroying their weapons of mass destruction-a moment when one realizes the vulnerability, and therefore, must embrace this as a step toward peace. Only when this is done can the world proceed in a step toward alliance and a unified relationship.
Until then, there is always the possibility of the draft being reinstated; there is always a chance that even you will be affected by a war, or government, and there will always be an insecurity that your voice will not be heard in this, or subsequent administrations. We must work together to achieve our goals. We must vote for our beliefs and values if we want democracy to work. We need to realize peace.