Last week the Dalia Lama visited Syracuse University for the One World festival-style concert to promote peace. In addition to giving a speech to thousands of audience members before stars like Dave Matthews Band, Whoopi Goldberg, and Nas took the stage, the Dalai Lama was also featured on two panels discussing the rise of democracy in the Middle East and shifting the global consciousness.
For a couple of days, campus was buzzing with energy and idealism about the major theme of the One World Concert: achieving world peace. The university sent a positive message to the student body and surrounding community by promoting such an important event, but eventually the energy on campus died down, as did discussions about what actions we can actually take in order to realistically move toward a more peaceful world.
That's not entirely surprising, considering large-scale ideas about world peace are overwhelming and don't seem all that feasible when put into grand terms. Even though it's meant to be productive, empty "save the world" rhetoric suggests immense obligations and leaves students with crucial questions: Where do we even start? Can the world really be saved?
The Dalai Lama explained to SU students that in order to achieve world peace on systemic levels we need to first find inner-peace within ourselves. Believe it or not, the little things matter. What his Holiness forgot to mention, however, is that inner-peace on an individual level can be just as difficult to achieve.
At the risk of sounding cliché, the missing link in the equation for peace is love: daily acts and feelings of love plus achieving inner-peace equals shifting toward a more peaceful world as a whole.
In order to make these ideas feel more tangible, we should think about specific ways to affect our day-to-day experiences. When broken down into the minute ways in which individuals can tackle this problem on a daily basis, using love behind our actions makes peace increasingly attainable.
It's an emotion that every single human being can relate to whether it's love for a partner, friends, family, political issues, work in the professional sphere, extracurricular passions, or even love for a subject in school or sports team.
Even love can seem like a large-scale idea that's hard to grasp because of how we consume certain ideas about love in our culture. But I'm not just talking about the kind of love you can buy on Valentine's Day or found in movies like The Notebook. Yes, romance can be a cite for social change, but operating out of love on a daily basis, often in little ways, is just as powerful.
This theory isn't solely based on an idealist, head in the clouds approach to peace; using love to create a happier, better world is actually based in logic and reason. Paul J. Zak, a neuroeconomist and professor, wrote about the scientific connection between love and overall happiness in his book The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity.
Zak's research proves that there is a molecule that causes morality in human beings called oxytocin and it's what the author calls the brain's love chemical. He writes, "After centuries of speculation about human nature and how we decide what is the right thing to do, we at last have some news we can use -- empirical evidence that illuminates the mechanism at the heart of our moral guidance system. So what can we do to shift behavior a bit more toward the expression of oxytocin and thus improve the workings of our entire society?"
If students want to get serious about affecting change on college campuses and in this world, we all need to start acting out of love. It's important to prioritize kindness and make decisions that have good intentions; you never know what someone else is going through and the different struggles people experience.
It's unrealistic and unnecessary to love every single person we come across, but the general idea is to treat people well, be kind, and consider others. Greed never gets us anywhere good, nor does malicious intent. Hate and lying causes stress, and stress is not equated with peace.
Love doesn't guarantee that no one will ever get hurt or experience pain, but it's the best we can do as individuals. Human beings are far from perfect, but we can gain a sense of inner-peace in knowing we've done our best work and acted out of loving, good intentions.
In the same way SU took a groundbreaking initiative -- and risk -- by bringing the Dalai Lama to campus and encouraging dialogues about world peace, students have the opportunity to start a trend carry this out through action by using their moral compasses and inspiring others to think about peace. The Beatles sang about it, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached about it, and now it's time we use the concept of love and actually do something about it.