Tuesday October 9, 2012

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Against a backdrop of escalating violence in the Middle East, the Dalai Lama said Monday at a peace conference at Syracuse University that "genuine peace must come through inner peace, taking care of others."

Two days of panel discussions began Monday with a symposium on the Middle East. The 77-year-old Dalai Lama, the exiled Buddhist spiritual leader of Tibet, is the centerpiece of the "Common Ground for Peace" gatherings.

"What’s peace? Absence of violence is not peace," the Buddhist leader said. "Peace is something positive. Genuine, lasting peace is true, inner peace. You have to take care of others. Peace will not come from the sky. Peace must come through our actions."

Panelists included former CIA director R. James Woolsey Jr., former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young, Martin Luther King III, Nobel laureates Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei and Shirin Ebadi, and author Irshad Manji.

More than 1,000 people, many of them students, filled Goldstein Auditorium at the Schine Student Center on Monday morning to listen to a discussion of the rise of democracy in the Middle East. The symposium got under way even as Turkey and Syria continued firing artillery and mortars across their volatile border, stoking fears that Syria’s civil war might escalate into a regional conflagration.

Woolsey offered a simple solution: "Get off oil.


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"It’s happened to other commodities in history, but this business of power going with a commodity that has a huge amount of economic rent is a very serious problem," Woolsey said. "I honestly believe that we cannot deal with this simply by drilling more for oil in the United States. We’ve got to get off oil and break the cartel (OPEC), which has 78 percent of the world’s conventional oil."

Young offered an even simpler way to peace.

"If everybody had water, that is justice. That’s the simplest justice," Young said. "Peace for the poorest of the poor is bread and water. We have to have a right to water, food, to health."

Manji, founder and director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University, said the aftermath of the recent assassination in Libya of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans has been riveting.

"For the first time, we have seen images of moderate Muslims stepping up, holding homemade signs: "Please forgive us. This is not who we are. They don’t represent us," said Manji, who was born in Uganda but moved to Canada with her family after Idi Amin gained dictatorial power in the early 1970s. "We’ve not seen this before. We now have clear evidence of a struggle -- in many cases a nonviolent struggle -- within my faith of Islam for independent thinking, for reinterpretation, for liberty and love."

The Dalai Lama will hold a public talk about resolving conflict through global consciousness Tuesday. It will be followed by a festival-style music event staged by World Harmony Productions that will include performances by Dave Matthews, Counting Crows, Nas, Cyndi Lauper, Engelbert Humperdinck, Roberta Flack, David Crosby and Nelly Furtado, while comedian Whoopi Goldberg will serve as master of ceremonies.

A portion of the ticket sales will to go toward a scholarship established in honor of Syrian native Bassel Al Shahade, a graduate film student at Syracuse University who was killed in May while filming a documentary in his war-torn homeland.