Dalai Lama’s visit overshadowed by debate

The fact that Dalai Lama’s visit is being treated as a part of the many events leading up to the Presidential Debate is an injustice done to a great man who represents a notable spiritual tradition. What exactly does the Dalai Lama have to do with American politics, anyway? I’m not really sure, except for the fact that maybe while he is here, the Dalai Lama can bless the Convocation Center before it has to face the tension and anxiety of what is looking to be a very partisan debate.

The Dalai Lama is commonly referred to as “His Holiness.” His full name translates to “Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate, Defender of the Faith, Ocean of Wisdom.” He is, in the mind of many people, a holy figure; even the highest holy figure. Contrastingly, Sen. John Kerry and President George Bush are politicians, a.k.a. “Mudslinger #1” and “Mudslinger #2.”

On a more serious note, President Bush and Sen. Kerry are well respected, accomplished men, both of whom the University community wholeheartedly welcomes to carry on the important political tradition of the presidential debate. However, the debate is, and should be treated as, a totally separate issue from the visit of the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama’s visit is officially included on UM’s “Presidential Debate Calendar.” listed right there on the debate website’s “Schedule of Events” along with a campus mock election, some movies being shown at Cosford and tour of a “C-SPAN School Bus,” whatever that is. It’s almost as if the Dalai Lama’s visit being equated to the importance of a school bus.

The Dalai Lama is the official head of state for the Tibetan Government in Exile. Politically speaking, he is on the same level as President Bush. As far as my memory serves me, one who is at least on equal footing with another doesn’t usually serve as a virtual keynote speaker to the other.

This is a public relations plan gone too far. The Dalai Lama did not visit Miami for the express purpose of taking part in UM’s debate frenzy. The plans for the Dalai Lama’s visit just happened to coincide with the timing of the Presidential Debate, and the result was unfortunate. His visit is now being overshadowed by the presidential debate, thanks to a PR job that couldn’t give credit where it was due.

Reeva Oza can be contacted at r.oza@umiami.edu.