His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama offered two solid reasons to practice kindness and compassion while speaking to Anaheim educators and other invited guests during a special appearance in Newport Beach.
“Firstly, we are social animals,” he said. “Secondly, scientists say that constant fear, constant anger, is very bad for our health.”
The spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, recognized internationally as a statesman and an advocate for peace, spoke for about 90 minutes at the Island Hotel on Tuesday, weaving together reflections on the science behind kindness, the role of education and the importance of promoting nonviolence in the 21st century.
“One human being is killed by a tiger or elephant, and sometimes it becomes news,” the Dalai Lama said. “But the human being killed by (another) human being is more or less normal now. This must change now.”
Striking an optimistic tone, he said the 21st century can be more peaceful and harmonious than its bloody predecessor, but only if people are willing to work to create a “global human family.”
“Now this century should be a peaceful century,” he said. “Peace through inner peace.”
The 1989 Nobel laureate referenced education several times during his remarks, telling the audience that existing educational systems are often too focused on fueling economic and material needs. It is important to also nurture deeper human values, he said.
“Modern education should provide some education for inner value based on scientific findings and common experience — and common sense,” the Dalai Lama said.
“Through education, through awareness, certainly we can develop more sense of concern for others’ lives,” he added.
Unlike his widely publicized keynote address during UC San Diego’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, the Dalai Lama’s visit to Orange County was kept relatively quiet. And it resulted from an improbable friendship with Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, who in 2013 kicked off a citywide campaign to carry out a million acts of kindness.
Anaheim’s lofty challenge was ultimately met, bolstered by students from the Anaheim Elementary School District, which reported increased attendance rates and a drop in suspensions. Meanwhile, word of the endeavor made its way across the globe to the Dalai Lama, who invited Mayor Tait for a three-day visit that included Bishop Desmond Tutu.
The success of Anaheim’s campaign also inspired the Orange County Department of Education to launch its own scaled-up One Billion Acts of Kindness initiative in May 2016. So far, more than 9.6 million good deeds have been registered through OCDE’s kindness1billion.org website.
“Simple thing,” Mayor Tait said, “but people have just been counting kindness and it’s been changing our schools.”
Those in attendance on Tuesday were seeking to keep the momentum going. They included about 250 Anaheim teachers, administrators, school board members and representatives from outside groups promoting goodwill, including the Random Acts of Kindness organization. Also on hand were OCDE leaders, including Orange County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Mijares.
“The Dalai Lama presents a universal message of kindness and compassion that resonates with educators throughout our county and aligns with our own efforts to promote civility and character through the One Billion Acts of Kindness initiative,” Mijares said afterward. “I hope his words inspired everyone in attendance to remember that our purpose in life is to be kind and help others, beginning with our students.”
As the Dalai Lama noted, only in America do municipalities vie to become cities of kindness or cities of compassion.
“Only this country,” he said. “I think it’s a sign that you are serious — really.”