The following letter appeared in the Ithaca Journal on Tuesday, November 6, 2007. I was prompted to write the letter because of the local stories that are referenced in the first sentence (which appeared in the paper on October 24), as well as the declaration of the week of October 22-26, 2007, as "Islamo-facism Awareness Week," sponsored by the Terrorism Awareness Project in higher education. (Please see the link at bottom for that story.)
Letter published November 6, 2007 in the Ithaca Journal:
"Follow Dalai Lama's guidance"
Two October 24 Journal headlines ("ICSD Votes to Withdraw" and "Spencer Board Hears Pleas"), along with recent national headlines of hate, should be a wake-up call to us all. Our increasingly small world, our "global village," brings people from different backgrounds together every day. To thrive in such a world, we need to consciously develop our capacity to appreciate all.
Our cultures, religions, and traditions may differ, yet we have one common denominator -- we are all human. We all face life's many difficulties and challenges; we all aspire to live lives of dignity, hope, happiness, and achievement; and we all aspire to see a brighter future for our children and our children's children.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently graced Ithaca with a visit. Let us take this opportunity to learn from the lessons his Buddhist teachings offered. We do not have to change our religion, traditions, or culture to understand others. However, in his words, "Genuine harmony only comes after you know the value of others ... then you get a deeper respect."
Let us all use these recent events to consider the Dalai Lama's message -- to work diligently to learn about one another and to learn how to live together in harmony, with a respect for difference that informs our human relationships and that does not divide us.
The diverse cultures in this country, and specifically in this community, offer us a resource to accomplish this simple but important and rewarding goal.
Editor's note: The writer is the president of Ithaca College.
InsideHigherEd.com: "Are You Ready for 'Islamo-Fascism Week'?"