Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I cannot explain the honour I had last week of meeting and getting to interview His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his visit to Derry. It was an incredibly moving and interesting discussion. Below I have put part of the interview as published on His Holiness' website.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking on "Philosophies of Peace & Conflict" on April 18, 2013 with Brandon Hamber

Working for Peace, Educating the Heart and Cultivating Compassion in Derry

Press Release from The Office of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet

April 19th 2013

Derry, Northern Ireland, 18 April 2013 - Today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama made his second visit to Derry, the Irish city whose motto is ‘Life, Truth and Victory’ and is UK City of Culture for 2013. He was invited by his old friend Richard Moore, the Director of the charity Children in Crossfire.

In the morning, His Holiness met Richard Moore, his wife and daughters and several of his brothers and sisters. When Richard remarked that his 93 year old mother was hoping to meet His Holiness, but was not feeling strong enough to go out, His Holiness replied that, if possible, he would like to go to see her.

His His first engagement was at Magee University where he was invited to participate in a conversation with Prof Brandon Hamber about ‘Philosophies of Peace and Conflict.’ In response to Prof Hamber’s question about whether the world is becoming a better place, he said:

“It’s a great honour for me to participate in this discussion. I’m here because of my wonderful friend Richard Moore, who as a young man, not especially religious minded, came to embody deep human values. When tragedy befell him, he didn’t allow himself to become filled with feelings of anger, hatred and resentment. The result is clear; he’s now a happy, peaceful human being.

“In the world at large it seems that people are becoming fed up with war and violence and the sense of ‘them’ and ‘us’ that provokes it is breaking down.”

Asked what his philosophy of peace is, he replied:

“Genuine peace comes about as a result of inner peace, so it starts on an individual level. Then you share it with your family and your neighbourhood. Inner peace is the basis of trust, the basis of friendship and so the basis of a wider peace in society and the world at large. Prayer doesn’t bring about peace, because it’s we who create the trouble, so it’s we who have to fix it.”

Prof Hamber asked if he was optimistic about Tibet and he was clear in his response.

“The problem in Tibet is not a matter of civil war, but that a new guest has come without a proper invitation, armed with a gun. Once that guest arrived, every Tibetan’s way of life came under threat. We have a rich cultural heritage, a culture of peace and compassion, which we want to preserve. Yes, the Tibet issue is linked to what happens in China. And things are changing there so, yes, we can hope. The last prime minister Wen Jiabao often spoke of the need for change and even the need for democracy. In the early 1980s Hu Yaobang went to Tibet. I met him in 1954 when he was head of the Chinese Communist Youth. He visited Lhasa in 1980 and publicly apologised for what had happened in Tibet. He was someone he followed Deng Xiaoping’s stricture, ‘Seek truth from facts’ and he realistically investigated local conditions. Some people say the new leadership seem to be taking a cue from Hu Yaobang’s approach, but it’s still too early to say. In the meantime, our Middle Way Approach attracts a lot of support from Chinese writers, thinkers and even ordinary villagers who get to know about it and understand it.”

To the suggestion that people can become tired of working for peace and reconciliation, His Holiness said that this kind of work is not a matter of choice, but something we have to do. As he frequently tells Tibetans, in the long run the people we are in conflict with are the people we have to live with side by side, so we have to find a peaceful solution. In such situations, resorting to violence is like suicide. Taking a more realistic and holistic view can give us a more positive perspective, whereas getting caught up in the destructive emotions of anger, hatred and fear create unhappiness and bring nothing positive.

Addressing those in his audience who were less than 30 years old, His Holiness said:

“You truly belong to the twenty-first century generation; the future is in your hands.”

The release continues here detailing His Holiness visits to a range of venues in Derry delivering a major talk that afternoon to some 2500 people at the Culture of Compassion event.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lack of Integration Strategy Undermining Northern Ireland's Political Progress

University of Ulster Press Release

The failure to progress a sharing and integrated strategy in Northern Ireland is undermining the achievements of the Good Friday Agreement, a leading University of Ulster academic has warned.

Professor Brandon Hamber (pictured) , the director of the University of Ulster's international conflict resolution research centre INCORE, told a joint committee of MPs and TDs in Dublin that significant strides had been made since the Agreement was forged 15 years ago.

However the Magee-based academic cautioned, as recent events in Northern Ireland have shown, in the absence of any strategy to deliver the integration envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement, the political process was vulnerable to stresses.

Professor Hamber told the meeting of the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement that we need to acknowledge the progress that has been made, violence has decreased and the institutions are functioning but segregation remains.

“What we do know is integrated schooling has not changed significantly. Although there have been advancements, they have not been dramatic.If you look at mixed marriages, for example, these types of factors have not changed dramatically.

"In numerous quarters, this has been put down to a lack of policy on how sharing and integration will take place…the whole spirit of integration as expressed in the Agreement has not yet been realised.

"Of course, policy does not determine practice but it does provide us with a yardstick for measurement and it helps us create a vision for action in terms of what might be needed”.

Professor Hamber told the joint committee of TDs and MPs that other conflict resolution processes around the world had shown addressing underlying issues, including economic concerns and segregation, would provide stronger social cohesion and a greater guarantee of peace in the long term.

If underlying causes of conflict are not addressed, Professor Hamber said, "In the conflict field, we would talk about this as a negative peace. In other words, there is a context where political violence has decreased but a lot of the underlying issues that potentially can fuel violence still remain in place”.

Specifically Professor Hamber called for an integrated strategy in Northern Ireland on dealing with sectarianism, flags, parades and dealing with the past, and a recommitment to the essence of the 1998 Agreement, which talks specifically about the importance of integration in schooling and housing as key to reconciliation.

Note to Editors:

INCORE (International Conflict Research Institute) is a joint University of Ulster and United Nations University project based on the Magee campus. It aims to address the causes and consequences of conflict in Northern Ireland and internationally while also promoting conflict resolution management and peace-building strategies.

Professor Hamber was giving evidence in Leinster House to the Joint Committee of the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement alongside Peter Sheridan, Chief Executive, Co-operation Ireland and Neil Jarman, Director, Institute for Conflict Research.

The joint committee of TD and Northern Ireland MPs is chaired by Deputy Joe McHugh TD.

For further information, please contact:

David Young Telephone: 028 9036 6074 Email: David Young

Monday, April 8, 2013

Is the government planning for separate development?

Since the 1998 Agreement and devolution in 2007, there have been three broad opinions on how best to achieve greater integration in the education system in Northern Ireland.

Firstly, there are those who argue for a system of common schools, attended by pupils from all traditions. A second argument is that integration need not be planned, but will happen organically as all schools become more inclusive and open to enrolment from other traditions. However, figures show that almost half of Northern Ireland’s schoolchildren are still being taught in schools where 95% or more of the pupils are of the same religion and fewer than 50 schools have an enrolment of more that 10% from the ‘other community’. A third argument is that separate schooling is inevitable and will continue for the foreseeable future, so another strategy may be to promote ‘shared education’ through more contact and collaboration between schools of different traditions. But if the Northern Ireland Executive plans only for ‘shared education’, does this mean that there will never be any change to the current system of separate schooling?

Read the rest of this article by Alan Smith on the site 15 Years On.