The Dalai Lama led a silent prayer for victims of the mass shooting in Orlando as he promoted non-violent conflict resolution here Monday.
The answer to attacks like “this latest tragedy, in some cases in the name of religion,” is for young people to work daily, individually and in groups toward peace as a long-term goal, he said at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
The exiled Tibetan religious leader was in Washington to promote a worldwide “peacebuilding” campaign, which he participated in by leading a workshop in India with 28 young activists from conflict zones around the world, especially from Africa and the Middle East.
Monday's event kicked off 100 days to the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21, which is being promoted on social media as #PeaceDay.
“If you attempt now, make the effort now, the end of this century could be more peaceful, more compassionate,” the Lama said.
In the face of imminent violence and real danger, people have to first “take appropriate action to save yourself (and) run away,” he told USA TODAY. But in the long term, society should incorporate “warm heartedness” and compassion in education, he said.
He referred to his decades living and working in India, in cooperation with Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews and Buddhists. While many religions teach different philosophies, they all teach love and tolerance and helping others, he said. “If someone creates bloodshed they should no longer be accepted in that religion.”
Nancy Lindborg, president of the U.S. Institute of Peace, who organized and participated in the workshop, said it was the first time the Dalai Lama hosted so many young people from so many conflict zones.
The U.S. Institute of Peace supports organizations that sent each activist with networking, training and facilities to help them share methods and learn to resolve conflict through mediation and other peaceful methods.
One participant was Victoria Ibiwoye of Nigeria, who works with a group that helps vulnerable children and youth in areas where Boko Haram is active in northern Nigeria.
“Deep down, everybody can love and show compassion,” Ibiwoye said. “He talked about how you can start with one person. We don’t have to look for crowds like this.”
Another participant was Soukaina Hamia, a young leader from the Sidi Moumen Cultural Center, a large slum in Casablanca, Morocco, that produced al-Qaeda attackers from incidents in 2003 and 2007.
The Dalai Lama taught her that “it’s our duty as young peace builders and citizens of the world to share with members of our community, to create and build a generation of young people who believe in the power of love and peace,” Hamia said.