WASHINGTON (CN) – The Dalai Lama received the Democracy Service Medal Friday in his only public appearance during his brief visit to the capital, taking the opportunity to call Chinese officials “disillusioned” and to say they should “retire with grace.”
Speaking at the Library of Congress in a small auditorium, he said the leaders in Communist China “don’t care about Marxism” and that they work “just to make money, money, money.” While the Tibetan Buddhist leader said money is important, he said China is missing other values, like individual freedoms, and that this could ultimately lead to its defeat.
He mocked what he characterized as a stratified Chinese government that tries to portray itself as populist. “But the names very beautiful: People’s Court, People’s Republic,” he said, and added that only officials stay at the People’s Hotel in China.
“They do not see the holistic picture in order to bring a happy society,” he said speaking in English, although an assistant could be heard whispering words to him.
“I think very few support that,” he said. “People, better education, how can remain such sort of system? Impossible.”
The speech comes a day after a low-key meeting between President Obama and the Dalai Lama, over the objections of China, which considers the Buddhist monk a separatist.
Thursday was the first time the two Nobel Peace Price laureates met, but their discussion was not publicized, and only one official picture was issued by the White House, reportedly because Obama does not want to overly anger China, also a permanent, veto-wielding member of the United Nations, whose cooperation is important with addressing climate change and nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea.
The Dalai Lama currently lives in India, exiled from Tibet, his birthplace.
The National Endowment for Democracy presented the Tibetan spiritual leader with the Democracy Service Medal “for service in the cause of Democracy,” as engraved on the award. The endowment awards the medals to those who promote freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, honest and open elections and rule of law.
In the spirit of his award, the monk spoke on the importance of Democracy in ensuring that every citizen shares responsibility, and promoted education and informed decisions as a necessary part of every democracy.
Apart from reprimanding Chinese officials, the Dalai Lama gave some advice to his American audience as well, when replying to the question, “Your Holiness. Do you ever have a bad day?”
He responded with a story from his youth, saying his teacher kept one normal whip and a gold whip that was designated for the “special holy student.” He said that despite his special treatment, he still felt pain.
“If something can be overcome, I try my best. If nothing can be done, okay,” he said.
“You must try to keep calm,” he said, then remarked that Americans get too excited if something good happens, and complain too much when something bad happens. His finger jabbing towards the crowd, he said, “Don’t do that.”