NEWARK, N.J. (RNS) The Dalai Lama has a message for Newark: Peace does not come easily, but the strategy for attaining it is simple.
Flanked by blue orchids, Buddhist monks and a security detail from the U.S. State Department, the Tibetan spiritual leader made his opening appeal for peace Thursday (May 12) as the city kicked off a three-day summit advocating for nonviolence.

For many throughout the world, the leader of Tibet’s government-in-exile is a symbol of peace and a source of inspiration, but on Thursday he urged Newarkers to look to themselves for change.

“I think a one-time conference may not make a big impact on your community, but you yourself must make an effort to reduce violence,” he said.

The three days of panels and workshops will cover a wide range of peaceful enterprises. The Dalai Lama outlined a simple plan to affect harmony: Reduce poverty and increase education.

“We must address seriously this gap of rich and poor,” he said, citing poverty as the next great struggle for equality in America, after the abolition of slavery and the 1960s battle for civil rights.

“Not only morally, but practically, we must make (an) effort. Poorer people’s living standards must be brought up.”

Almost as the Dalai Lama spoke, gunfire erupted across town in two afternoon shootings, punctuating the urgency of his appeal.

“I understand the feeling of frustration,” the Dalai Lama said. “However, these causes of frustration will not go away through violence.”

(David Giambusso writes for The Star-Ledger)

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