Philadelphia is teeming with diversity of many cultures, religions and heritages, making it a destination for many prominent figures and leaders. The visit of Pope Francis later this month has caused a frenzy of activity and apprehension in the city and the area surrounding it.
Issues of transportation, emergencies and masses of people in our city are causing so much havoc that it is drawing attention away from the presence of another cultural icon that will be visiting Main Campus; the Dalai Lama, who will speak Oct. 27th, about “Finding Happiness in Troubled Times: Educating the Heart in the 21st Century” at the Liacouras Center.
I understand it can be hard to look past the papal chaos, but why is no one talking about this?
Perhaps some view the Dalai Lama as not being as highly esteemed in a global regard as the Pope. Both figures have far-reaching audiences and followers across the world. Pope Francis was named Time’s “Person of the Year” in 2013 and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, an award The Dalai Lama received in 1989.
Pope Francis has been deemed the “Cool Pope” and earned the respect and admiration of the younger generation, due to his activity on social media and leniency with some Catholic traditions, especially when Catholicism is found locally and globally.
It’s an exciting time, but it’s a shame to not be paying enough attention to the diversity offered to us in the form of other cultural leaders.
The Pope’s visit has been a topic of concern for months—according to philly.com, in preparation of the Pope’s arrival, several Philadelphia colleges like the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and Temple will not hold classes.
No mention of any cancellation of classes regarding the Dalai Lama’s visit has been mentioned, despite it occurring on a Tuesday morning.
The date of the Dalai Lama’s visit is also still more than a month away, as Joe Sheridan, general manager of the Liacouras Center, points out: “There’s definitely a lot of attention for the Pope’s visit coming up and that is prior to the Dalai Lama so a lot of that attention will shift to the Dalai Lama after the papal visit is done.”
I hope he is right. The Dalai Lama arriving does not stem from people lacking appreciation for him, nor him being a less prominent world figure than the Pope. It could also be that the Dalai Lama promotes a lifestyle while catholicism is based on tradition and ritual.
I feel it is due to the fact that there has been a lack of media coverage of it. When there are countless articles describing the mania of the pope’s arrival and criticizing the authoritative attempts to crowd control, people are naturally going to begin talking about it.
Our city is a cultural petri dish. We will see that in the crowds of people coming to celebrate the Pope’s arrival, and again in October when the Dalai Lama brings a different culture. While we will celebrate the pope’s arrival, and probably his departure, we should also take note that there are still big things to come for Philadelphia.
Grace Shallow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.