Dalai Lama at Nobel summit: Let’s talk, rather than fight

By Kim Janssen | Chicago Sun-Times

ON THE WEB, 27 April 2012

The Dalai Lama called for a “century of dialogue” and predicted a more peaceful planet by the end of the 21st century as the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates drew to a close in Chicago Wednesday afternoon.

After appearing onstage at the Symphony Center with other Nobel Prize winners including former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the Dalai Lama said that the crime plaguing parts of Chicago is mirrored all over the world.

“That’s not just your case,” he said of Chicago violence, adding it was “up to humanity as a whole” to tackle the problem.

But the Dalai Lama said he was optimistic because people all over the world are becoming “wiser” and more interested in finding non-violent solutions to conflict.

The history of the 20th century had shown that violence does not work, he told an audience of hundreds of students and peace activists.

“The 21st century should be a century of dialogue,” he said, calling on educators from the kindergarten level to universities to teach that dialogue is “the genuine solution” to problems large and small.

“There have only been 11 years so far in this century, but there are 89 to come. … If we make an effort I think that within this century a better world” is possible, he added.

If the Dalai Lama’s comments on Chicago were diplomatic, fellow Nobel laureate Jody Williams — honoured in 1997 for her work to ban landmines — had some sharp words for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Williams, who hailed Occupy Chicago for standing up to “corporate greed,” said she’d told the mayor she was unimpressed with what she called his “sit down, shut up” ordinance limiting protest during the NATO summit next month.

The ordinance threatens “our right to non-violent protest,” she said.

Gorbachev likewise raised concerns about the effects of globalisation and the international financial system, but echoed the Dalai Lama’s comments, joking that if a “Bolshevik” like himself and a “dinosaur” like President Ronald Reagan could solve problems through talks, “what we need is dialogue.”

The former Soviet leader also presented a Peace Summit award to actor Sean Penn for his work helping Haiti recover from the 2010 earthquake that claimed more than 300,000 lives.

Penn, who was introduced as “His Excellency Ambassador Penn” following his appointment by the Haitian government earlier this year, choked up during a speech calling on the US to stick by Haiti.

He said his plea was “not one from a bleeding heart liberal [who is] only supportive to the needs of people outside his own country — I’m a proud American.” It is in the US national interest to prevent Haiti from falling into the hands of criminals or terrorists, he said.

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