Dalai Lama issues environmental plea on Facebook

The 14th Dalai Lama speaks on October 7, 2009 ...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

The 291-word message, which ends “We must act before it is too late,” tells us less about His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, than it tells us about the last quarter century of environmental progress. The message issued yesterday is identical to the one the Dalai Lama issued on World Environment Day in 1986.

Perhaps he’s hoping we’ll realize we’ve accomplished nothing since.

The Office of the Dalai Lama posted the undated message on his new Facebook page, which he launched March 4. He has more than 341,000 fans there, and on its first day as a note, “An Ethical Approach to Environmental Protection” received a thumbs up from 2,373 of them, as well as 201 mostly fawning comments.

The message contains a few anachronisms from the 1980s, such as this discouragment of space exploration: “Exploration of outer space takes place at the same time as the earth’s own oceans, seas, and freshwater areas grow increasingly polluted, and their life forms are largely unknown or misunderstood.” Since 1986, the U.S., Russia and China have curtailed space exploration, but not pollution.

The Dalai Lama refers to his audience as a “pivotal generation,” but it’s one that didn’t pivot in 1986. The phrase remains in the Facebook message to a new generation.

The Dalai Lama, the leader of Tibetan Buddhists and the Tibetan government in exile, has long been an advocate of environmental protection. Pope Benedict XVI boarded the green bandwagon in his rambling encyclical letter, Caritas in Veritate, last year.

The Pope urges environmental protection largely as a benefit to humanity: “The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.” The Pope blames environmental degradation on impiety, including the popularity of Darwin’s theory of evolution: “When nature, including the human being, is viewed as the result of mere chance or evolutionary determinism, our sense of responsibility wanes.”

The Dalai Lama also emphasizes the benefit of passing a healthy environment on to future generations of humans, but he pins the blame for environmental destruction more clearly on “ignorance, greed and lack of respect for the earth’s living things.” Read the full text of the Dalai Lama’s message on Facebook or at his Web page:

An Ethical Approach to Environmental Protection

Yesterday at 10:03am

Peace and the survival of life on earth as we know it are threaten by human activities which lack a commitment to humanitarian values. Destruction of nature and nature resources results from ignorance, greed and lack of respect for the earth’s living things.

This lack of respect extends even to earth’s human descendants, the future generations who will inherit a vastly degraded planet if world peace does not become a reality, and destruction of the natural environment continues at the present rate.

Our ancestors viewed the’ earth as rich and bountiful, which it is. Many people in the past also saw nature as inexhaustibly sustainable, which we now know is the case only if we care for it.

It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past, which resulted from ignorance. Today, however, we have access to more information, and it is essential that we re-examine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations. Clearly this is a pivotal generation….

via The Office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama.

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