What’s so funny ’bout peace, love and understanding? — Nick Lowe
It was hard for even an old curmudgeon not to be moved by the Dalai Lama and his message of compassion and nonviolence which resonated with so many people during his visit to Hawaii.
The 76-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader twice packed the Stan Sheriff Center with 9,000 admirers each time, and he charmed the students, scholars and community leaders at appearances around Oahu with a jolly demeanor that embodied the virtues he espouses of kindness, happiness and humility.
He wandered onto the stage while the performers were still doing their thing, wore a visor that made him look like your Uncle Murray, the tax accountant, cracked jokes like Jay Leno, confided that the only time he isn’t smiling is when he’s straining on the lua and laughed at his own self-deprecating lines with a Santa-like "ho, ho, ho."
It spoke for itself that he could still live with such joy after enduring the pain of 53 years of exile in India since China cracked down in his homeland in 1959.
There’s nothing complicated about the Dalai Lama’s philosophy: live aloha, take responsibility for a happier future, make the effort to be a good person, seek inner peace, look at problems from different perspectives, respect that others have a right to a happy life, talk out differences to create harmony, cherish nature, practice simple acts of kindness.
The plain message hit home with audiences grown tired of our culture of excess and the endless discord in our public dialogue.
It was typical that on the day the Dalai Lama arrived, the local rail wars raged with U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye invoking images of World War III, Mayor Peter Carlisle inciting construction workers to "be the army … that will defeat the enemy in a heartbeat" and former Gov. Ben Cayetano describing opposing views as "stupid."
And that’s tame compared with the poisonous politics going on in Washington. It’s all added up to leave many people feeling deep in their hearts that there has to be a better way.
The Dalai Lama told one local audience, "Fear develops frustration; frustration develops anger; anger brings violence."
It wasn’t surprising that the students, whose vision hasn’t yet been clouded by the complexities of life, were among the most receptive.
"If everyone took his message … this world would be a better place," said Jeremiah Taleni, a student at Kailua High.
Fellow student Caitlin Hooker asked the Dalai Lama, "If we have all these reasons to be good people, reasons to have compassion, patience and love, then why is it so hard to be a good person?"
"Not easy," the Dalai Lama said of the effort it takes.
But worth striving for.
Reach David Shapiro at firstname.lastname@example.org or blog.volcanicash.net.