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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Why a Peace Summit? Here are its three key goals

September 26, 2009

Women's advancement, social responsibility and global compassion are
overlapping aims of the historic event

By Douglas Todd
Vancouver Sun - September 25, 2009

Some of the world's biggest names in spirituality, education and
philanthropy are coming to Vancouver from Sunday to Tuesday to take part in
the Dalai Lama's Peace Summit.

The global visions of the several dozen famous speakers will no doubt
enthrall the 8,000 ticket-holders and many more who follow the events
through the media and on the Internet.

But what, in the end, does the Vancouver Peace Summit hope to accomplish
through this high-level display of intellectual passion?

The summit has three overarching goals.

They have to do with expanding the global reach of compassion, reforming the
world's educational networks and enhancing the life-giving influence of
women.

Compassion, which isn't as simple as it sounds, is the focus of several
major events at the Peace Summit.

Noted religion scholar Karen Armstrong will kick things off Sunday morning
by announcing her much-anticipated global "Charter for Compassion."

Funded by the TED Foundation, Armstrong brought together a cross-section of
international spiritual leaders, who have created an ethical statement that
all the world's people will eventually be called upon to endorse.

The Golden Rule -- treat others the way you'd like to be treated -- is
central to all religions. But the Dalai Lama, who says "kindness is my
religion," would also like to see compassion embodied in a "secular ethic."

The Tibetan Buddhist leader, who is a Nobel Peace laureate, knows people are
aware of the value of compassion, but figures they need to be reminded of
it -- often, says Victor Chan, organizer of the Vancouver Peace Summit.

As a result, in the name of compassion and kindness, four more Nobel
laureates and other dynamic humanitarians will also be meeting together in
private during the Peace Summit, as well as strategizing outside the public
eye at a Tuesday event called Connecting for Change.

Drawn from philanthropic organizations and socially responsible businesses,
they will include Irish singer and African aid campaigner Bob Geldof, eBay
Pierre Omidyan and organizational expert Peter Senge.

The second major goal of the Vancouver Peace Summit is to "educate the
heart."

It's basically about encouraging more creative social-problem-solving, as
well as teaching emotional intelligence.

The Dalai Lama is aware that humans have extremely high levels of scientific
and technical knowledge, enough to build sophisticated weapons and make
business people lots of money. But he believes such expertise is dangerous
without a sense of morality and inner peace.

Chan, the Dalai Lama's friend and co-author, applauds the way the B.C.
public school system has responded to this deficit by including "social
responsibility" in its curriculum.

But he said a greater stress on teaching "emotional competencies" is needed
in schools around the planet.

"Heart-mind education" will be the focus of Tuesday events involving
well-known figures such as Buddhist monk-philosopher Matthieu Ricard,
Vancouver spiritual writer Eckhart Tolle, motivational author Stephen Covey,
British educator Ken Robinson, brain researcher Daniel Siegel and UBC early
childhood education specialists Kim Schonert-Reichl and Adele Diamond.

The Dalai Lama's devotion to international women -- the third main goal of
the Vancouver Peace Summit -- is something people don't hear about often.

But the celibate Buddhist monk has a special respect for women and their
potential to promote peace.

"A great deal of that is derived from his mother," says Chan. "His Holiness
thinks women have a greater capacity than men to feel empathy for other
people's suffering."

Although it may not be "politically correct," Chan said the Dalai Lama
thinks women feel more of a biological imperative than men to spread
compassion.

"The Dalai Lama told me he thinks the world is getting too macho. There's
too much testosterone around," Chan said. It often explodes through military
conflict and, in some countries, widespread rape.

To highlight a greater leadership role for women, the Peace Summit is
featuring three female Nobel Peace laureates, including anti-land-mines
activist Jody Williams, as well as former Irish president Mary Robinson and
chimpanzee expert and ecologist Jane Goodall.

The Dalai Lama on Tuesday morning will take part in a talk called Women and
Peace-Building, featuring author Maria Shriver, former Canadian prime
minister Kim Campbell, acclaimed Indian women's union campaigner Ela Bhat
and many more prominent female thinkers and activists.

Why such an emphasis on improving the lot of women? Chan said communities
benefit greatly when women can stay healthy, become educated and earn a
living.

Studies in the developing world, Chan said, reveal that when women come into
money they invariably plough almost 90 per cent of it back into their
communities.

Women's advancement.

Emotional intelligence.

Global compassion.

Three overlapping aims of a remarkable, sweeping, historic event: the 2009
Vancouver Peace Summit.
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