Thursday, April 29, 2010

People are the same and seek happiness and freedom

Recently I came across a book titled, ‘Freedom in Exile’, which is the Dalai Lamas autobiography which details his inspiring yet revealing life as a leader who is devoted to the plight of his people (i.e. the Tibetans) and seeks to bring peace to the world and save his people in a non-violent way.

He discusses the challenges and joy he had growing up in Tibet and having to become the head of state at the age of fifteen. He also shares details about the Tibetan ways, religions, and the plight of human beings along with some of his thoughts on the way society is structured.

I would like to share some of his views as we all have something to learn from him. I will share those that have struck me - as many are accord with how I, too, believe that humans should live together. I too, agree that as we’re all seeking the same thing, i.e. happiness! 

Non-violence is the only way to conduct politics
While in exile, he makes reference to his admiration for Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘devotion to the cause of non-violence was the only way to conduct politics’, as this was the approach he was taking as well. As he believes that it was ‘only through the development of mutual respect, and in a spirit of truth, can friendship come about. By these means it is possible to move human minds, but never by force’.

A leader must be in touch with the common people
He believes that it as a leader it is vital to ‘keep in touch with the common people...[as] anyone who wishes to lead must remain close to the common people. Otherwise, it is all too easy to be misled by advisors and officials and others around you who, for reasons of their own, might wish to prevent you from seeing things clearly’

I agree and also envision times when they may not be intending to mislead you; however, as they only show you one perspective - one side of a situation, you might not understand or be given the full picture – only what they deem as important. I believe it is best, if time and resources permit, to be able to see things and make assessments for yourself. Since, for example, one can understand text that has been translated say from Japanese to English, some meaning is generally lost in its translation, and it is only through reading and understanding it directly in Japanese that its true meaning is given (although of course, no one person reads text in the same way just as when one looks at a picture – as prior experiences, knowledge of subject, language etc. will affects that...).

People are the same and seek happiness and freedom.
He notes that the ‘desire for freedom is fundamental to all living beings’ and believes ‘...people everywhere are basically the same, despite certain superficial difference. They all, like myself, seek happiness: no one wants suffering. Furthermore, everyone appreciates affection to others. With this in mind, I have found that friendship and understanding can develop’.

To some people this may sound naive, but...no matter what part of the world we come from, fundamentally we are all the same human beings. We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. We have the same basic needs and concerns. Furthermore, all of us human beings want freedom and the right to determine our own destiny as individuals. That is human nature. The great changes taking place everywhere in the world, from Eastern Europe to Africa, are a clear indication of this’.

Aim to help people in any way possible, but also to learn
Whenever I do meet people, my aim is to help in any way that I can, and also to learn what I can’.

I see this as my aim in life’s encounters as well, as I feel that we as human beings seem to have a natural curiosity and always seek to learn all we can about something and somebody, yet at times we can get so lost in that quest that we can forget about how we could also help the person we’re speaking to. Quite often, by offering a small piece of advice, a quote or insight we may be able to offer them the inspiration or insight that can help them on their journey in life – much as quite a few people have done for me in the past (you can read about one time this happened briefly on my other blog at http://vulongtran.blogspot.com/2009/11/ymca.html).

Better harmony and understanding between different religions
He tries to contributes towards ‘better harmony and understanding between different religions...as all religions aim at making people better human beings and that, despite philosophical differences, some of them fundamental, they all aim at helping humanity to find happiness...[he looks at] religion as medicine. For different complaints, doctors will prescribe different remedies. Therefore, because not everyone’s spiritual ‘illness’ is the same, different spiritual medicines are required’.
Furthermore, all religions seek to ‘...cultivate goodness and bringing happiness to all human beings. Though the means might appear different, the ends are the same’.

He makes some good points which I’ll agree with, as I see religion as something that brings people together and gives them hope. It facilitates the friendship and family amongst the people. Sports is an example of what sort say are a religion as well. I believe food also forms a strong part of this bonding between people when food is shared.

On liberated societies
His observation is that people in liberated societies ‘...inclination for people to think in terms of ‘black and white’ and ‘either, or’, which ignores the facts of interdependence and relativity. They have a tendency to lose sight of the grey areas which inevitably exist between two points of view’.

Part of the problem within our societies may be the ‘intense competitiveness of life in these countries [i.e. liberated societies], which seems to breed fear and a deep sense of insecurity’.

In reference to New York, it is a shame (my word) that ‘there could be any beggars in this vastly rich and prosperous land’.

Other quotes, thoughts and comments
There is much more that is mentioned by the Dalai Lama that I admired, however, I will just note them down as I’m sure this has been quite a bit of reading for you already. Most of these are pretty self-explanatory.

‘...material prosperity alone cannot bring about lasting happiness’.

‘People have a right to their own opinions and I do not see it as my role to try to change their minds’.
‘...suspicion causes terrible unhappiness because it goes against a fundamental human trait – namely one person’s desire to trust another person’.

‘...suffering is caused by ignorance...people inflict pain on others in pursuit of their own happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of inner peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through cultivation of altruism, of love, of compassion, and through the elimination of anger, selfishness and greed’.

He often practices mental exercises that ‘promote love towards all sentient beings, including especially [his] so-called enemies...he reminds [himself] that it is the actions of human beings rather than human beings themselves that make them [his] enemy. Given a change of behaviour, that same person could easily become a good friend’.

‘Learning to forgive is much more useful than merely picking up a stone and throwing it at the object of one’s anger, the more so when the provocation is extreme. For it is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others’.

‘...people’s love for truth, justice, freedom and democracy will triumph. No matter what governments do, the human spirit will always prevail’.

 ‘...in favour of a humanitarian government, one which aims to serve the whole community: the young, the old and the disabled, as much as those who can be directly productive members of society'.

‘...cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and for the planet we share, based on a good heart and awareness’.

‘absolute informality’ in terms of interacting with young people appeals to younger audiences

Friday, April 23, 2010

Victoria Police Youth statistics 2009 - 2013

I was just browsing when I came across an interesting report from the Victoria Police which details their approach towards youth and their strategies to work with them better.

There were some statistics and points mentioned that I has struck me, particularly the first one really sticks in my mind as I have had that mentioned to me a few times before.

Here are some highlights of the report:
  • Young people aged under 14 years at the time of first contact with police, have significantly longer involvement with the criminal justice system than those who are aged 14 years and over at the time of their first contact.
  • While the overall level of repeat victimisation has declined since 2000, children under the age of 10 continue to have the highest rate of victimisation of young people under the age of 24.
  • The relationship between alcohol, crime and violence is complex. While intoxication does not always lead to offending, it is estimated that 47 per cent of all assault offenders and 43 per cent of all assault victims, were intoxicated prior to the event.
  • Violent behaviour within the home is also a significant issue for young people. Since 2000 there has been substantial increases in the number of young people both as victims (91%) and offenders (85.8%) in family violence related incidents. Evidence suggests that children who are exposed to violence in the home have an increased risk of violence within future personal relationships.
  • Young people who are connected to the community and feel that they have the ability to participate in decision making processes are less likely to experience disengagement.They are also less likely to participate in anti-social and criminal behaviour.
A copy of the report can be found at the following location if you're interested about reading about it in more detail.
Victoria Police Child and Youth Strategy 2009 to 2013

(Please note the date of the report as we're in 2010 now)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

For those who haven't heard of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (as surprisingly I hadn't until recently), MDGs are development goals that have been established to 'respond to the world's main development challenges' around areas of poverty, equality, morality, health, education and partnerships.

It has been established as a set of 'achievable' targets for countries all around the world to work towards and were adopted by nations globally during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000. These MDGs are to be achieved by 2015. This included Australia which was set a target of allocating 0.7% of our GNI (Gross National Income).

We're currently committing 0.5 of our GNI, so the MakePovertyHistory campaigns is set in May and in the future are to remind the government of this commitment and to encourage fellow Australians assist in our efforts, as it's only as a nation amongst nations that we can move closer and closer towards making poverty history!

Here's a brief list of the MDGs - many things we often take for granted:



A more detailed listing of exacting what each goal entails is detailed on the United Nations Development Programme website at, http://www.undp.org/mdg/basics.shtml

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Moving towards making poverty history

In May, I will be joining 999 other young Australians for the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY roadtrip campaign traveling from Melbourne to Canberra and stopping at many country towns along the way.

At Canberra I will be joining 999 other MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY Ambassadors from the 12th to the 14th of May for a history making summit focussed on what Australia can do to end poverty. There will also be an MP breakfast held at Parliament House on the 13th May where I, with many other ambassadors, will be meeting and discussing his concerns with many MPs - whom I am hoping will include my local (Lalor) MP – Julia Gillard.


The aim
Overall, my aim will be to create awareness within Australian communities as we journey towards Canberra, that we each can 'make a difference'. Each of us will make that difference in our own ways, whether that being in donating money, understanding the issue further, sharing and spreading the insights and perspectives and listening to the suggestions and feedback from others.

We will be doing this through flash mobs, meetings with MPs and businesses, speeches at schools, music events and more, we will generate the groundswell of support necessary to achieve real change. Like many other social movements, there will be challenges in achieving the end goal, i.e. to make poverty history. The main thing that we all have to realise is that change (social change) relating to issues such as poverty does not happen overnight.


But is it possible?
We believe it is possible as we are already moving forward towards zero poverty. Examples include:
  • Since in 1990 42% of the world was living in extreme poverty, now it’s 19%
  • Australia’s own Aid effort has wiped out Polio in the Pacific. Through our efforts this crippling disease will no longer disable the people of our region.
  • In 2007 over 700 young Australians took to the road on the ZEROSEVEN Road Trip and made history when it created the public support and political will to increase Australia’s foreign aid from 0.3% to 0.5% of GNI by 2015. This historic increase of over $2.3 billion has brought Australia closer to its promise of 0.7%.

Can we do more?
Yes, we can urge individuals, communities and governments to do more to create the world we all want to live in. We will asking Australia to keep its promise to increase foreign aid to 0.7% of our GNI from it's current level of 0.5, i.e. Australia doing it's fair share to end global poverty by investing just 70 cents from every $100 of our national income in effective aid solutions.”


More information
http://www.theroadtrip.com.au