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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama: A Champion for Freedom
In a Freedom Collection interview four years ago, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama spoke about how we in the 21st Century must carry the struggle for freedom to those parts of the world that still lack such basic human liberties as freedom of speech and freedom of religion. “Everybody has the right to be free,” the Tibetan Buddhist leader declared. "The world belongs to people, not kings or religious leaders."
Four years later, the Nobel Peace Prize winner remains a devoted advocate for the liberties of oppressed people across the world. Most recently, he has championed the rights of the Rohingyas in Burma. Over the last few weeks publications like The Economist have described the Muslim minority as the most persecuted people on earth.
Today, in Dallas, His Holiness will likely speak about his commitments to promoting religious harmony, preserving the Tibetan Buddhist culture of peace and nonviolence, and promoting values like compassion, forgiveness, and self-discipline. He’s also committed to the fundamental ideal that democratic governments are the best way to serve people. The Dalai Lama will speak at SMU’s Moody Coliseum at an event sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute and Southern Methodist University in conjunction with the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.
He takes the stage at a timely moment. Freedom House reports that “More aggressive tactics by authoritarian regimes and an upsurge in terrorist attacks contributed to a disturbing decline in global freedom in 2014.”
In short, freedom remains an ideal but not a reality in too many parts of the world, even in the 21st Century.
Fortunately, strong voices like that of His Holiness remind the world that the struggle for freedom and democracy is right and reasonable. He described the struggle that way four years ago, and the words remain just as true today.
Amanda Schnetzer is the Director of the Human Freedom initiative at the George W. Bush Institute.
Amanda Schnetzer is Director of Global Initiatives at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas. In this role, she is responsible for developing innovative research, programmatic, and policy efforts to advance societies rooted in political and economic freedom and to empower women to lead in their communities and countries. Previously she served as the Bush Institute’s founding director of the Human Freedom Initiative.
Amanda has twenty years of experience in the international arena and a background in public policy research and analysis, public affairs, and management of diverse, high-level stakeholders. As senior fellow and director of studies at Freedom House in New York, Amanda guided research for the organization’s definitive studies of freedom. She began her career at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, supporting research on U.S. foreign policy and international politics. Amanda is a published writer and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds degrees from Georgetown University and Southern Methodist University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.
Chinese Prisoner’s Death Holds a Message for Americans and China
Liu Xiaobo, China’s most prominent dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner died this week. His death holds a message for Americans and for China.
Release of Chinese Political Prisoner a Timely Reminder to Support Freedom Advocates Abroad
More than half the world’s population still lives in countries where basic political rights and civil liberties are only partly respected, if at all.
Bringing Freedom to the Forefront of 21st Century Politics
Is the global liberal democratic order in danger? Purposefully constructed in the aftermath of World War II, this order -- and the American leadership that is central to its success --has contributed to securing peace and expanding prosperity in the United States and around the world. Today, that order appears to be dissolving. This crisis is not new or sudden; it has been mounting for several years. Global challenges like authoritarian capitalism, violent extremism, demographic pressures, and displaced populations have placed global freedom in decline. Fraying traditional alliances united by core values of freedom are increasingly weak to respond. It is alarming that the downdraft in democratic resilience over the past decade or more includes countries that have long been part of the consolidated democratic West. This is democratic deconsolidation. In much of the Western world, we see a rise in demagogic populism, illiberalism, nationalism, protectionism, and waning conf
The Importance of Speaking Truth to Tyrants
What the president of the United States says matters. Even during the realpolitik policies of détente under Richard Nixon, it was still clear that American policy was based on a set of core values. Nixon’s practical goals of reaching deals with America’s adversaries was never based on the “great chemistry” with himself or praising the Soviet or Communist Chinese leadership doing a “fantastic job.” When the president aligns himself with the autocrats and dictators, he aligns America with their oppression. He sends a message that corruption and brutality are not our concern. Contrast that with how Ronald Reagan defied much of world opinion in calling out the brutality of the Soviet system. Natan Sharansky, then a refusenik imprisoned in a Soviet gulag, later wrote for the Weekly Standard of his thoughts on Reagan’s pronouncement that the USSR was an evil empire: “It was the great, brilliant moment whe