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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

A welcome visitor

October 21, 2007

Houston Chronicle
Oct. 19, 2007

The Dalai Lama's message of peace and tolerance raised both the morale
and the tone of Washington

As well as being the best journalistic photo op since Fidel Castro's
warm, incongruous embrace of Pope John Paul II in Havana in 1998, the
Dalai Lama's visit to Washington this week provided a gentle, calming
respite from the often cantankerous, bruising business of government.

The spiritual leader of the world's Tibetan Buddhists, who won the
Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his commitment to nonviolent resistance
to the Chinese government, met with President George W. Bush and was
awarded the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal of Honor before a
delighted, united Congress.

Not everybody was thrilled. The Chinese voiced fury at both the
world-esteemed leader, who they maintain is a separatist pushing for
Tibet's independence from China, and at the Bush administration for
"blatant interference in China's internal affairs."

The president praised the Tibetan leader for his unwavering commitment
to peace and tolerance, and said he would continue to urge the leaders
of China to meet with the Dalai Lama. Said Bush, "They will find this
good man to be a man of peace and reconciliation." He told reporters
he did not think his meeting with the Dalai Lama would damage
U.S.-China relations.

For his part, the Tibetan leader assured the Chinese that he has "no
hidden agenda" as regards Tibet. He gently urged them to allow more
freedoms and congratulated them on their booming economy and
technological advances.

It was all very civilized and enlightened, as one would expect on such
an occasion, but the very best part was the laughter. This is a man
who is regarded as a god-king in Tibet, and rightly revered throughout
the world as an icon of moral authority. Still, his sunny disposition
and his down-to-earth humanity blazed as vividly as his saffron and
burgundy robes. He beamed as he was introduced, laughingly apologized
for his English, and at one point, when asked by reporters about
China's furious reaction to his visit, told them, with a hearty
chuckle, "That always happens."

There's been precious little laughter or solace lately in Washington:
With the president's approval ratings at an all-time low, myriad
problems at home and abroad — a popular bill increasing funding for
children's health vetoed, rumblings about World War III if Iran has
the means to produce nuclear weapons, Turkey and genocide, Pakistan
and bomb attacks — no wonder the nation was uplifted to hear the
president praise his guest as a "universal symbol of peace and
tolerance, a shepherd of the faithful and a keeper of the flame for
his people."

The Dalai Lama should visit Washington more often.

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