We are in one of those times of history when we yearn for wisdom. Not expertise, but wisdom.
Any evening news program proves that we have experts aplenty, but expertise is not the same as wisdom. Experts often impress or intimidate others, but the wise person offers a path of peace and healing for others to follow.
Wisdom rather than expertise is what Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. offered, and that is what we are sorely missing in ISIS/ISIL-controlled Iraq and in Ferguson and Baltimore. I am a fan of CNN and BBC news, but what they offer in our current crises are panels of experts. I have yet to hear from any expert a solution to the brokenness of the Middle East or the brokenness of our own country.
But we have not been left in complete darkness. We are blessed to live in a time which has had and continues to have living embodiments of wisdom. In that category, I would list Desmond Tutu, Sister Helen Prejean, Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Pope Francis, and the late Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela. How different our world and nation would be if those locked in conflict or confronting one another across tense police lines would pause and invite even one of these teachers of wisdom to meet with them.
In a world where we pay our brightest to study war and devise new weapons, we find ourselves longing for a different kind of brilliance, one knowledgeable of the ways of peace and healing.
Nothing would please me more than to be able to write that one of these living sources of wisdom is coming to Franklin College. If that were possible, which one of us wouldn’t drop everything to hear how we might begin to heal our nation and our world?
While none of these persons is scheduled to appear in Johnson County, I am happy to share that the Dalai Lama will make a type of appearance at Franklin College. At 2 p.m. Tuesday in Richardson Chapel, two new, short films will be shown that are centered on the Dalai Lama. The first is “Dalai Lama Awakening,” and the second is “Compassion in Action.” An added treat will be the presence of the films’ director, Khashyar Darvich, who will answer questions after the showings. The films and discussion are free and open to the public.
We tend to think of films as entertainment, but that is not why Franklin College is hosting these two films. Before the program begins, everyone attending will receive an index card. On one side will be the words “Syria” and “Iraq.” On the other side will be the words “Ferguson,” “NYC,” “North Charleston” and “Baltimore.”
These cards will remind those present that we are watching these films not just for our own benefit but on behalf of others — those Syrian refugees languishing in camps, those threatened by wave after wave of terrorism, and those in our own country who know in their hearts that we cannot survive as a society unless every person matters.
In being invited to host these films, Franklin College is honored to share the light that the Dalai Lama will undoubtedly bring to our present darkness. We hope those who attend Tuesday will realize that what we receive from these films is a gift to be shared. God knows, our nation and world need as much light as possible right now.