CAPS — In a world where genuine moral wisdom is rare, the recent words of the Dalai Lama on migration are refreshing indeed. The spiritual leader of Tibet began by affirming the importance of compassion. “When we look at the face of each refugee,” he said, “we feel their suffering, and a human being who has a better situation in life has the responsibility to help them.” But then he thoughtfully added that other considerations must balance compassion to uphold the greatest moral good.
Specifically, the Buddhist monk warned that the numbers of migrants moving into Europe are too many for the charity of European countries to sustain, and that those countries have the right to preserve themselves. He observed that “[T]here are too many [migrants] at the moment… Europe, Germany in particular, cannot become an Arab country. Germany is Germany.” He went on to say “[F]rom a moral point of view too, I think that the refugees should only to be admitted temporarily. The goal should be that they return and help rebuild their countries.”
The Dalai Lama expresses a moderate and balanced view so uncommon in discourse today – and indeed for quite some time. Years ago the Roman Catholic theologian G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.”