Dalai Lama brings message of compassion to Louisville; Tells crowd to feel pity for Boston bombers

05/19/2013 05:22 PM

The 21st century can be a non-violent century if everyone in the world can apply the best parts of the U.S. political model and practice compassion in their daily lives, the Dalai Lama told a Louisville audience on Sunday.

If the 20th century was the century of violence in which 100 million people were killed in conflicts, then the 21st century can be more peaceful and non-violent, he said.

Dubbed an international compassionate city in November of 2011 Louisville embraced the 14th Dalai Lama on Sunday with 14,000 people in the Yum Center.

The line to hear the Dalai Lama stretched halfway down the Second Street Bridge around the corner from the Yum Center when the doors opened at 10:30 a.m. for the second public talk he has given in Kentucky since 1994.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer introduced the Dalai Lama to the crowd in a brief speech.

“We’re the largest American city to sign a commitment charter of compassion,” Fischer said. “And we’re doing our best at it everyday.”

The Dalai Lama took the stage with little orchestrated fanfare. And as the crowd grew silent a lone audience member shouted to him, “We love you.”

On the issue of compassion, the Dalai Lama pitched the idea that the necessity of compassion is relevant in today’s society.

“I hope peace not just remains on the slogan, but develops here. Compassion must develop here,” he said.

And in a city that has seen its share of deadly violence, the message of action couldn’t be missed.

The “real effect comes from the action, which is based on the motivation (to change),” he said.

One audience member, Michelle Newman, asked the Dalai Lama how to forgive the unforgivable acts of the Boston bombers. His answer: with pity.

The question allowed the Dalai Lama, who is an advocate to abolish the death penalty, to remind the audience that in some cases life imprisonment can be far worse. And perhaps 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could find compassion after time to think in a cell, he said.

The message always came back to compassion, but the Dalai Lama also expressed his love of the American political system. He said the world should eventually follow our example. He remarked on the “autonomy that sparks individual creativity, but he said the system hasn’t always been right, but has a way of working things out.

However, he noted that within America, like in India, there remains a “huge gap between rich and poor.”

“To some extent there is too much exploitation of the working class people,” he said.

Fischer capped off the event by presenting the Dalai Lama the first engaging compassion award for a lifetime achievement in engaging compassion, an honor the city plans to award annually.

In Louisville, Fischer said, there is “no end zone for compassion,” only the beginning of work to do.


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