The Buddhist President: Envisioning a Politics of Compassion for America - Lecture at Maple Street School

March 8, 2012

What if the Dalai Lama were President of the United States? Coming from a Buddhist perspective, how different would American policies be, both domestically and internationally? “Quite different,” according to Southern Vermont College Professor Thomas Redden, Ph.D. Redden, a political scientist and ordained Zen Buddhist priest, will explore these issues and more in a talk on Friday, April 27, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Maple Street School in Manchester. The lecture, “The Buddhist President: Envisioning a Politics of Compassion for America,” is free and open to the public.

Buddhism, a religion that seeks to free ourselves of ego and selfishness, can help us get beyond the Left-Right divide, Redden believes. He will begin his presentation with a reflection on the dominant conservative ideology that has informed American politics since 1980, and then present a Buddhist-inspired political vision, what he calls a “politics of compassion.” Regardless of the issue, Redden maintains, the answer to the question of “who suffers most” can provide a moral compass that is both practical and humane. He will address issues of ideology, ego, poverty, healthcare, race, war, and the role that silence and spirituality can play in all political lives.

"Our nation has been dealing with political gridlock and ideological fervor for quite a while…to say we’re frustrated is an understatement,” Professor Redden said. “We’re also entering a time of spiritual awareness like never before, which says that, while questioning some of the foundational ideas which have led us into this intellectual quagmire, we can each help to create a society based on caring for others as well as ourselves.”

Redden has been presenting this topic in more detail in Bennington with a six-part lecture series, all free and open to the public, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bennington. The three remaining lectures will be held on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, on April 17 and May 1 and 15.

Redden holds a B.A. in History from Williams College, a master’s degree in Third World Development Studies from the Institut Universitaire d'études du Development, in Geneva, Switzerland, a master’s in Education from Central Connecticut State University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut. At Southern Vermont College, he teaches courses in U.S. History, International Relations, Social Ethics, Race and Comparative Religions. Redden has lived and travelled all over the world and has been a practicing Buddhist with a daily meditation practice for 34 years.

For more information on the lecture, please call the Communications Office at Southern Vermont College at 802-447-6388.