His Holiness the Dalai Lama is confident that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will contribute to shaping a more peaceful world, according to letters he has written to the incumbent US president and vice president after the presidential inauguration last week. The heartfelt letters came in the wake of an equally warm letter to Biden and Harris after their election victory in November last year.*
The Buddhist leader also expressed gratitude for Biden’s long-standing support for the Tibetan people, making it apparent that he looks forward to re-establishing a close relationship between the Tibetan community and the United States.
The Dalai Lama has had a soft spot for US presidents since childhood, when he was gifted a gold watch by former president Franklin Roosevelt. His Holiness liked the watch so much that he took it with him when he fled Tibet in 1959. In the last quarter century, it has become something of a tradition for the spiritual leader to meet with US presidents during their time in the White House. On several occasions, His Holiness has met with George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
The tradition was broken during former president Trump’s term in office. Despite the Dalai Lama having been open to a meeting, Trump never requested to meet the spiritual leader.
Biden, on the other hand, stated during his election campaign that should he be elected to office he would invite the Dalai Lama to the White House. Biden also made it clear that there would be sanctions for Chinese officials when it came to human rights abuses in Tibet.
“Where Trump has turned a blind eye, a Biden-Harris administration will stand up for the Tibetan people,” Biden said. (Hindustan Times)
This came as good news to the Dalai Lama, who looks forward to continued collaboration between the US and Tibet.
“The invitation to His Holiness from the White House would provide an opportunity to discuss the situation in Tibet and to advance US support for the ‘middle-way approach,’” said a representative from the spiritual leader’s office. (Tribune India)
The middle-way approach, a policy espoused by the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration, seeks greater autonomy for the Tibetan region under the People’s Republic of China. It aims to protect and preserve Tibetan culture, religion, and national identity.
In his letter to president Biden dated 21 January, the Dalai Lama wrote:
As someone deeply concerned with the ecological crisis our planet faces, I am so pleased that you are elevating the issue of climate change to your highest priority and that the United States is rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. Global warming is an urgent threat to the whole world and to the survival of our species.
May I also commend you for other measures you are taking towards the betterment of the United States of America. I have long been an admirer of your great country, the bastion of liberty, democracy, religious freedom and the rule of law. The whole world places its hope in the democratic vision and leadership of the United States. In these challenging times, I am confident that you will contribute to shaping a more peaceful world in which those suffering from hunger, disease and violence may find help. The need to address these issues is indeed pressing.
Once again, I take this opportunity to express our gratitude for your long-standing support for the Tibetan people. It has been our good fortune to have enjoyed the friendship and encouragement of the American people and their leaders in our endeavor to protect and preserve our ancient Buddhist culture, a culture of peace, non-violence and compassion.
I am so pleased that you are elevating the issue of climate change to your highest priority and that the United States is rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. Global warming is an urgent threat to the whole world and to the survival of our species. (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
On 23 January the Dalai Lama wrote to vice president Harris, highlighting the importance of her role as the first woman to hold the office:
I have no doubt that your commendable background in public service will enable you to make valuable contribution to the people of America.
I am particularly pleased that you are the first woman in the history of your country to be holding this position. It is a tremendous source of inspiration not just to people in your country, but also to many others who look to the United States for leadership.
Madam Vice President, I hold the firm conviction that women are more empathetic and sensitive to the feelings of others, qualities I first learned from my loving mother. There is also scientific evidence that when it comes to compassion, women are more sensitive to others’ pain. It is inspiring that there is a growing recognition of the importance and value of women’s leadership. I feel that if more of our leaders were women the world would be a more understanding and peaceful place.
Since my childhood I have admired the United States of America, a nation that has been a beacon of hope for so many around the world in their wish for liberty, democracy, religious freedom and the rule of law. (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
* Dalai Lama Congratulates Joe Biden, Kamala Harris on Election Victory (Buddhistdoor Global)
Biden says he will meet Dalai Lama, sanction China over Tibet (Hindustan Times)
Tibetans hopeful of seeing Biden host the Dalai Lama (The Tribune)
Congratulating President Joe Biden (His Holiness the 14th Dalai lama of Tibet)
Congratulating Vice President Kamala Harris (His Holiness the 14th Dalai lama of Tibet)