Dalai Lama Arrives in Newark for Peace Education Summit
Event begins Friday at New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
In his first address a day before the opening of the Newark Peace Education Summit, His Holiness The Dalai Lama decried violence — especially the death of Osama bin Laden.
"That sentence I always oppose," he said to reporters Thursday at the Robert Treat Hotel about bin Laden's death. "I feel very sad."
He spoke in soft, broken English while flanked by blue orchids, a Tibetan scholar, a translator, diplomatic security officers and monks, in his address to local and international reporters.
He discussed bin Laden, the earthquake recovery efforts in Japan, negotiations with the Chinese government and the general threat of violence.
"When tragedy happens, it's very bad and very sad," he said, referring to the Japan earthquake. "Now ... look forward to build new homes, new towns. You face reality with self-confidence and you build a modern nation."
The Dalai Lama said negotiations with the Chinese have faltered through the years since the 1960s, but said the Tibetan side "is always open."
His Holiness, though, focused a majority of his responses to reporters on growing concerns of violence in the world — and in Newark.
"As concerning people, you have the main responsibility (to reduce violence)," said The Dalai Lama, who emphasized the road to success starts with the individual. "That's the only way."
Newark's ongoing efforts to reduce violence is one reason the city is the peace summit's venue, according to Drew Katz, one of the summit's co-conveners and founder of the Cherry Hill-based Drew Katz Foundation.
"Newark has such a long history of violence ... it's a city that is on the rise ... is a city with one of the most wonderfully progressive, inspirational and spiritually grounded mayors," said Katz.
Newark saw its worst summer of violence in the last 20 years, last year, according to Mayor Cory A. Booker's State of the City address. Booker promised to continue to work to suppress violence in his March 1 address.
"We will meet this summer with the determination to show that Newark is yet again on track to set the national standard for violent crime reduction," he said.
The Dalai Lama said that in order to reduce violence and spread peace, education must increase and poverty must decrease. That, he said, is the goal of the summit.
"Causes of frustration will not go away with violence," he said. "The only thing is: Keep determination, optimism ... work hard with education, learning, studying then the ... youth have a particular role to change this habit in society."
He also called the poverty gap between rich and poor wrong both "morally" and "practically." "We have to seriously address these things," he said.
Robert Thurman, executive director of the Tibet House U.S., one of the summit's co-conveners and father of actress Uma Thurman, said the weekend's conference is modeled after a similar conference that took place in San Francisco in 1997.
"In a setting where there's sort of like a Tibetan cultural tent over the event, people who are fragmented in this country ... can get together," he said.
In addition to The Dalai Lama, the summit also includes more than 100 celebrity and spiritual speakers, including Earl "Street Doctor" Best, founder of The Street Warriors Inc., Goldie Hawn, Martin Luther King III and Shirin Ebadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her work defending the rights of women and children in Iran.
The summit kicks off at 8:30 a.m., Friday, at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.