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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?"

Dalai Lama Brings Joy and Laughter at Library of Congress

March 2, 2010

The Epoch Times
February 27, 2010

WASHINGTON -- A side of the Dalai Lama that
relatively few people know, was revealed at a
ceremony in his honor at the Library of Congress
on Friday, Feb. 19, where the National Endowment
for Democracy (NED) awarded His Holiness the Democracy Service Medal.

The Coolidge Auditorium was packed to its
capacity of approximately 500 to hear the
fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, as he
graciously accepted the award for what he said
was his small contribution to the betterment of
six million human beings (presumably the
population of Tibet), and the promotion of democracy.

According to Carl Gershman, president of NED, the
Dalai Lama was a "devoted democrat" and had taken
steps to modernize Tibet’s system of government
even before he fled Tibet in 1959.

"This is not an aspect of the Dalai Lama that is
well understood, especially by those who see him
as the spiritual leader of a traditional people," said Gershman.

The NED, which is funded by the U.S. Congress,
praised the Dalai Lama for supporting a
democratic government in exile and his
willingness to even abolish his own spiritual
authority in Tibet if that is what the Tibetans choose.

"His exile has allowed him to learn about the
world," in a way unprecedented for any Dalai
Lama, "and the world has had a chance to learn
about the Dalai Lama and the people of Tibet," said Gershman.

At the event we saw a humble man filled with
humor and goodwill, even towards his adversary,
the Chinese Communist Party, which calls him a
separatist and had condemned his meeting with
President Barack Obama the day prior.

Learning from experience

He calls himself "the unluckiest Lama," because
he has spent more of his life as a refugee
outside of Tibet than living in his country,
according to Gershman. Nevertheless, he was
grateful in one sense for his forced exile in
that it allowed him to see and learn much from
the rest of the world, most notably India, in how they are governed.

"I did not learn the value of democracy through
education but through experience," he said at the opening of his address.

As a youngster he befriended street sweepers,
ordinary Tibetans, and heard their complaints
about "injustices or drawbacks" in society -- to
be sure, not as bad as under the Chinese communist dictatorship but still bad.

The Dalai Lama told of a lesson he learned as a
young man in the "big difference" between
"authoritarian" and "open societies." In 1954 he
went as a "one-member Tibetan delegation" to the
"parliament" in Peking and said he noticed the
“complete silence” in the chamber. Many delegates
were sleeping and not very engaged. When one
member began to speak and complain, the person in
charge told him to "shut up." In 1956, he went to
India where he observed their parliament that he
found was "noisy and undisciplined" and people could express themselves freely.

He began the process of reform of the Tibetan
government around 1952, because it was
out-of-date and not suitable for contemporary
society. But as the process got underway, the
Chinese communists objected and said they had
their own reform process. The Dalai Lama did
complete the reform process to a democratic
government, including an elected National
Assembly and Supreme Court, with an elected prime
minister, but only after he departed Tibet and
set it up for the Tibetans in exile.
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