Opinion: Is the Dalai Lama’s call for secular ethics what capitalist America needs?

The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet appears at the U.S. Capitol building during his visit to the United States in 2007.
(Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: The Dalai Lama’s short, eloquent op-ed article speaks wisdom in this time of madness. The concept of “educating the heart” is long overdue in our culture. (“We need an education of the heart,” Opinion, Nov. 13)

I am so weary from our competitive, materialistic society. How can one preach God-fearing family values out one side of his mouth and promote profit-at-any-cost-capitalism out the other?

We are seeing in our own country what has long been wrong with the world: heightened emotion, hate and distrust of others, fear of terror and putting up walls — not physical walls but walls between people who should be seeing each other as brothers and sisters in the huge struggle of humanity. I would venture to say that terrorism is bred by these walls.

As the song goes, “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear.” If you can teach hate, you can teach love. Which would you rather have?


Betsy Rothstein, Long Beach


To the editor: The message of the Dalai Lama is simple and timeless, and if history is any precedent, it will be disregarded just as similar messages have from principled men and women throughout the recorded history of our species.

Americans are a violent people. We worship a game that glorifies violence and causes brain damage. We fought a civil war that resulted in monumental death and destruction. We ended a more recent war by using a weapon that has the power to eradicate civilization.


Rodney King, no stranger to violence himself, asked the same question as His Holiness: “Why can’t we all just get along?” According to a respected balladeer of our time, “The answer, my friends, is blowin’ in the wind.”

Louis H. Nevell, Los Angeles


To the editor: Global secular ethics — I wonder if that’s what the authors of the Constitution were really writing about. They separated church and state and hoped that a secular government would succeed.

Thanks to the Dalai Lama for including all of us, believers and atheists, in his moral vision. I’ve always thought secularism made sense, and I can’t understand why it isn’t embraced worldwide.

Ellen Eubanks, Monrovia

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