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Lions Roar : March 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2012 13 IAMANOLDMANNOW.Iwasbornin1935inasmallvil- lage in northeastern Tibet. For reasons beyond my control, I have lived most of my adult life as a stateless refugee in India, which has been my second home for over fifty years. I often joke that I am India’s longest-staying guest. In common with other people of my age, I have witnessed many of the dramatic events that have shaped the world we live in. Since the late 1960s, I have also traveled a great deal, and had the honor to meet people from many different backgrounds: not just presidents and prime min- isters, kings and queens, and leaders from all the world’s great religious traditions, but also a great number of ordinary people from all walks of life. Looking back over the past decades, I find many reasons to rejoice. Through advances in medical science, deadly dis- eases have been eradicated. Millions of people have been lifted from poverty and have gained access to modern education and health care. We have a universal declaration of human rights, and awareness of the importance of such rights has grown tre- mendously. As a result, the ideals of freedom and democracy have spread around the world, and there is increasing recogni- tion of the oneness of humanity. There is also growing aware- ness of the importance of a healthy environment. In very many ways, the last half-century or so has been one of progress and positive change. At the same time, despite tremendous advances in so many fields, there is still great suffering, and humanity continues to face enormous difficulties and problems. While in the more affluent parts of the world people enjoy lifestyles of high con- sumption, there remain countless millions whose basic needs are not met. With the end of the Cold War, the threat of global nuclear destruction has receded, but many continue to endure the sufferings and tragedy of armed conflict. In many areas, too, people are having to deal with environmental problems and, with these, threats to their livelihood and worse. At the same time, many others are struggling to get by in the face of inequal- ity, corruption, and injustice. These problems are not limited to the developing world. In the richer countries, too, there are many difficulties, including widespread social problems: alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, family breakdown. People are worried about their chil- dren, about their education and what the world holds in store for them. Now, too, we have to recognize the possibility that human activity is damaging our planet beyond a point of no return, a threat which creates further fear. And all the pressures of modern life bring with them stress, anxiety, depression, and, increasingly, loneliness. As a result, everywhere I go, people are complaining. Even I find myself complaining from time to time! It is clear that something is seriously lacking in the way we CROWDEDISLAND,WESTWIND,2006(OILONLINEN)BYNICOLABEALING(B.1963)PRIVATECOLLECTION/THEBRIDGEMANARTLIBRARY New Ethic for a Small Planet If the twenty-first century is to be one of peace and caring, says HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA in this heartfelt personal plea, we must develop a new ethic of human values that transcends religion.