By Tenzin Sangmo
His Holiness listening keenly to personal stories at the forth dialogue with youth peacebuilders at his residence on Wednesday. Photo by Abhishek Madhukar
DHARAMSHALA, October 23: His Holiness the Dalai Lama sat down with 26 young peace-builders from 12 conflict-ridden countries for the fourth dialogue with youth peacebuilders this morning at his residence in Dharamshala.
The program also called Generation Change Exchange with His Holiness the Dalai Lama is an initiative by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) that brought youth leaders from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela, and Nigeria, among a host of other countries.
Nancy Lindborg, President for USIP informed His Holiness that each of these young leaders come from countries that have been affected by conflict and violence. They have chosen to become leaders of peace in their countries and community.
“Dialogue has been very important for them to give inner peace and resilience.”
Ariq from South Sudan shared how his village was attacked by a tribe and his mother killed in it. He left the village, became a medical doctor and returned to the community to work at the border, treating everyone including people from the tribe that killed his mother.
“My own people are asking me ‘how can you treat the people that killed my mother,’ telling me to join them in fighting back. But I don’t feel it in my heart that others should go through what I went through,” he stated.
His Holiness, visibly saddened by the story thanked the youth leader for sharing it.
Aung Thanoo, a youth leader from Myanmar asked how to stop the hate speech against Muslims following the persecution of the religious community in the country that began in 2012.
His Holiness recalled being in Washington DC at the time and having said that those Buddhists involved in the violence should imagine Buddha over the shoulders of each Muslim as a protector.
On a practical level, His Holiness said he asked Aung Sang Su Kyi a few times to do something about it.
“She told me it was a difficult and complicated situation, as some Burmese military leaders are involved.”
He told the young leaders that we tend to get hung up over minor differences that are secondary to our fundamental nature as humans, as social animals and compassionate beings.
“The current education system, from kindergarten to university level should promote emotional hygiene and inner values.”
Thanoo later told Phayul that it was a very memorable day for having discussed peace-building ideas with His Holiness.
Naomi from Nigeria said she was overwhelmed and filled with gratitude for getting the opportunity to meet His Holiness.
“I learned how important it is to maintain inner peace, share love even when its hard and always stick to the truth as a young leader working in a conflict area.”
The two-day dialogue seeks to discuss the issues of building bridges in divided communities, inclusive peace, peace education and resilience after displacement.