Europe has been embroiled in a debate over rampant immigration of refugees and migrants, many from Syria and Iraq, which has sometimes flared up into civil unrest and violence. It’s been a tipping point in the elections of several nations, including Germany, Italy, Hungary and most recently Sweden. But now a new voice is weighing in. The Dalai Lama addressed the subject during remarks to a conference in Malmo, Sweden. Being the leader of the Buddhist faith and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, one would expect the holy man to urge tolerance and compassion. That’s why it came as something of a shock when he declared that Europe should be “for Europeans” and that the migrants should return home when it’s safe to do so and rebuild their own nations. (The Sun)
Dalai Lama has said refugees should return to home and help rebuild their countries as “Europe belongs to Europeans”.
The Buddhist spiritual leader from Tibet, acknowledged that Europe had a responsibility to help them, but insisted they must also do their part. Speaking at a conference in Malmo, Sweden, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner said: “Receive them, help them, educate them.
“But ultimately they should develop their own country.”
He added: “I think Europe belongs to the Europeans…”
The 83-year-old later explained, Europe was “morally responsible” for helping a “refugee really facing danger against their life”.
Despite speaking some serious truth to a potentially hostile audience, it’s obviously a rather odd and controversial position for the Dalai Lama to take. His is, after all, a refugee himself. After being identified as the 14th reincarnation of his station in 1959, he fled Tibet in fear of the wrath of the Chinese. After an arduous journey, he reached sanctuary in India where he has lived ever since.
With that strange history aside, it’s not difficult to see what the Dalai Lama is suggesting. The line about how Europe “belongs to” Europeans was a bit off the mark because it opens him to immediate charges of racism, nationalism or whichever other “ism” is popular this week. But he’s also addressing some harsh realities of the world.
It’s not just Syria (and to a lesser degree these days, Iraq) which is plagued with troubles and sending people fleeing for their lives. Yemen is probably in worse shape than either of them. Venezuela is turning into a death trap and millions are fleeing to Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, and other destinations. The violence in Honduras is generational and legendary. Myanmar remains an ongoing disaster. North America and (most of) Europe are essentially the only populated continents that don’t have an ongoing refugee crisis.
Do we expect the stable nations of the world to take in all of these massive populations and keep them forever, leaving their ****hole countries of origin to rot away in the hands of the bad guys? As has been pointed out recently by several European leaders, refugees should be safely housed somewhere as close to their countries of origin as possible and the ultimate goal should not be resettlement, but the repair of those troubled nations so the migrants can return to their normal lives. I’m not so blind that I don’t realize this is easier said than done, but it’s not a goal the rest of the world can or should give up on.
This doesn’t mean that we should be gathering our allies and marching off to war in each of these countries, but enough economic and diplomatic pressure could eventually isolate them to the point where they would have to reform their ways. The problem is we have powerful nations who frequently won’t go along with such universal pressure, most notably China and Russia. Alternately, in a worst-case scenario, the natives of those nations could work to overthrow their tyrants and establish a more fair system of government. (The people of Venezuela really need to be considering this idea.)
I’m not saying it’s easy. And it obviously won’t happen tomorrow. But the Dalai Lama is correct on at least this much. Each country is its own unique entity and needs to adopt policies which work best for their long-term interests. And the people fleeing violence need immediate help in terms of rescue, but they are far more in need of a way to repair their homelands so they can return.