Laureates advocate world peace

The World Peace Conference kicked off its first-ever event on Tuesday in the Smith Center Ballroom.

Gary Alan Spanovich opened the conference and said the idea for the conference was inspired by the Dalai Lama’s visit to Portland.

Six Nobel Peace Laureates attended the conference and spoke about world peace and how to go about achieving it. Among the speakers were Adolfo Perez Esquivel of Argentina, Venerable Lhakdor, the religious assistant to the Dalai Lama, Betty Williams of North Ireland, Dr. William Shulz of Amnesty International, Dr. Robert Musil of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Dr. Helen Caldicott.

Portland State Provost Mary Kay Tetrault welcomed the laureates to campus and said that President Daniel Bernstine could not make it because he was in Korea building educational ties. Tetrault said that Bernstine’s work in Korea was also a peace making exercise. She praised universities and education as key components in this process.

After the welcome, the laureates were introduced and each had an opportunity to speak briefly about their struggles and their reasons for working toward peace.

Lhakdor sat at the conference as a representative of the Dali Lama. He warned the audience of the complexity of the issue and made reference to the conference and a meeting the laureates had with the Dalai Lama.

At the meeting the participants signed a “Charter for a More Peaceful World.” The charter outlined principles of world peace, which included reaffirming the United Nations’ Dec. 10, 1948 Declaration of Human Rights. It also asked that all pray or meditate for peace and work actively for the welfare of others.

The charter also demanded that no one allow the change of borders by force, that no one use military force in conflicts between nations and that no one allow racism.

“It is perhaps futile to seek world peace by attending some conference or signing some paper,” Lhakdor said. “It can only be realized by proper education.”Lhakdor emphasized that peace can only be reached through leading a non-violent life.

“Peace is not the absence of violence,” Lhakdor said. “If it were then we could say that trees and rocks are peaceful. Peace is the active practice of compassion in our daily lives.”

Lhakdor also said that the Dalai Lama viewed the world as a big family or even one body. “We must consider this world as one human body,” he said. “If your leg is injured you reach down to protect it.”

In his closing statements Lhakdor put responsibility on the individual. “It’s wrong to think the U.N. or some other organization will bring peace. It is up to each one of us personally.”

The crowd cheered and applauded.