Humanitarian panelists advocate global awareness

Activists challenged attendees to become more aware and concerned with international issues in order to achieve world peace.

Understand. Educate. Connect.

These were the three things that “Shifting the Global Consciousness” panelists urged audience members to do on a daily basis.

“These are not questions of the morality of something, these are questions of our own survival,” said the Dalai Lama.

The panel took place Monday, Oct. 8 at 1:30 p.m. in Goldstein Auditorium and was part of a two-day forum which aims to bring in humanitarian leaders to discuss what it means to work toward achieving global peace.

Photo: Ziniu Chen

Dalai Lama visits SU

Common Ground for Peace symposium and One World concert Oct. 8-9.

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  • At the beginning of the panel discussion, the Dalai Lama said it is important to understand that peace can occur on many different levels: the individual level, family level, community level, national level and global level.

    Global peace, he said, starts at the individual level. People have to understand that human beings are connected, and they share common goals and suffering.

    “When I meet people, I always have the same feeling: we are the same human being,” the Dalai Lama said. “Your happiness is my happiness; your sadness, your unhappiness, is my unhappiness.”

    Human rights advocate Martin Luther King III echoed this idea, and said people have to understand that if a society perpetuates negativity, it will function in a negative way. “We have to create a culture of nonviolence,” he said. “We have to create the climate and condition so people can lift themselves up.”

    If society continues to value things like violence, then it will never achieve peace, King said. But being conscious of this, and actively working to become a more peaceful society—and ultimately, a more peaceful world—is a step in the right direction.

    “My dad attempted to find the good in people,” King said. “I think, from a world perspective, we have to find the good because everyone has some good.”

    Although achieving global awareness is not an easy task, all panelists agreed that it starts with educating people around the world.

    Nobel Peace Laureate and Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi said she believes parents are responsible for teaching their children how they can feel inner peace. But, she said, violent videogames that desensitize children to images of war hurts the ultimate goal of achieving world peace.

    “Two years ago when I was in this country, I saw one of these games that was very popular among children and that was, ‘How to Kill bin Laden,’” Ebadi said. “Of course, bin Laden was a terrorist and no one supports him, but do you really think that a 10-year-old kid should learn how to kill another person?”

    Every person has a duty to their children, she said. And parents need to take responsibility for their children, and not blame shortcomings on society.

    People need to learn how to find their own inner peace, said A.R. Rahman, an Academy Award-winning composer and United Nations ambassador. For Rahman, his inner peace came from music, he said.

    Teaching others to be more compassionate, and more respectful toward all human beings is essential, Rahman said. “I believe there is a saying that every human being is a shrine of God,” he said.

    Everyone should actively take steps in educating others on global awareness and serving as inspiration to their community, Rahman said.

    “Be the change that you want to see,” he said.

    Ultimately, the panelists said, global consciousness comes down to connecting with other people.

    Mohamed ElBaradei, Nobel Peace Laureate and former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said people have a tendency to label others based on superficial details like race, religion and culture.

    “Our priorities are totally skewed,” he said. “We have changed dramatically in every physical way, but human interaction, we continue to live as if nothing has changed.”

    It is important to connect with others and be aware of issues that are happening globally, ElBaradei said. “If you want to sustain life here in the U.S., you need to worry about the people in Tibet, the people in Singapore,” he said.

    Iranian-Japanese American journalist Roxana Saberi agreed and said global consciousness begins by connecting with others. Networking technology like Facebook and Twitter is a great resource for people to use to connect with others across the world, she said.

    Although societies throughout the globe have a lot of work to do in terms of understanding, educating and connecting with others, Saberi said there is hope for humanity.

    “There are more and more signs that we are becoming more conscious of our connection to humanity,” she said, “and we are realizing more and more that each voice can make a difference.”

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