Monday, October 18, 2010

Sarah Palin & the Dalai Mama: Two very different speakers come to Silicon Valley

The other day, me and my family all piled into my son Joe's car and drove down to San Jose to see the Dalai Lama in person. Not surprisingly, there were approximately15,000 other people there who had gotten the same idea as us. The San Jose Convention Center was jam-packed and sold out.

Have you ever tried to assemble almost your entire family at one time and in one place? Frazzling. But we did it -- because all of us really wanted to go see the Dalai Lama. And driving to San Jose, getting lost a whole bunch of times and searching for parking within walking distance was even worse -- especially with two-year-old Mena on board.

"Quick! Take a picture of the Dalai Lama with your cell phone," I ordered my daughter Ashley -- who immediately got busted by an usher for taking unauthorized photos and almost got her phone confiscated too. Oops.

"There's Pierce Brosnan," said my son.

Then Mena ran away from us, hunkered down under an exhibit table in the lobby and had to be dragged out screaming by a security guard. Then, once inside the venue, she immediately tore down the main aisle toward the front, yelling, "Dalai Mama! Dalai Mama!" like she was some kind of long-lost sacred rinpoche reincarnation finally about to be reunited with her mum. And she almost made it too -- but a security team stopped her at the third row.

And I myself spent a goodly amount of time searching the venue for elevators and coffee -- I don't do so good with stairs these days and am probably the last person in my generation to succumb to the lure of caffeine addiction.

But finally we were all seated and the Dalai Lama started to speak -- but I have no idea what he said because the sound system was lousy. "Humility, peace, love and compassion," is my closest guess. Who knows. But by the time he finished speaking, all 15,000 of us audience members clearly felt like we'd just been calmed, soothed, mellowed out and given the gift of great hope. It was a truly awesome moment, well worth every hassle.

And as we drove out of the parking structure after this extraordinary and inspiring experience, I spotted a big poster near the exit that read, "Next Event -- Sarah Palin". And we were all immediately struck by the contrast in messages between the speaker we had just heard and the speaker to come. On this singular afternoon, the "Dalai Mama" had fired us all up with his universal message of peace, love and hope -- and yet there, surrounded by the very same air that the Dalai Lama had just breathed, Sarah Palin would soon be trying to fire up people with her mean-spirited messages of violence and hate.

I will NOT be taking young Mena to go see Sarah Palin.

PS: I just read where only 1,200 people showed up at Sarah Palin's event. Ha!

PPS: I dearly love the Daily Kos but writing there on the subject of Israel and Palestine can be truly tricky -- because if you cross a certain invisible line regarding that subject, Kos readers will really yell at you (a lot):