Obama praises the Buddhist faith in Laos.
President Barrack Obama visited Laos on Wednesday in an attempt to strengthen relationships between the U.S. and the people of Laos. Obama’s visit is historic as being the first visit by an American president to the nation. The visit is aimed at focusing on strengthening ties between U.S.A. and Asian countries as a measure to counter the growing influence of China. The visit included a visit to a Buddhist temple as well.
The president took the visit as an opportunity to acknowledge and apologize for the secret bombing of Laos that America carried out. This bombing during the 60s and 70s left around 80 million unexploded bombs all over the country. These bombs have been responsible for either injuring or killing almost 20,000 people ever since. Obama accepted that it was a very cruel move by the U.S. and also sought the forgiveness of the citizens of Laos. As an act of reparation, Obama offered to double the financial support to Laos to clear up the unexploded bombs.
Luang Prabang, the mountain city of Northern Laos which the president visited is now a UNESCO Heritage site. Famous for its monasteries and rich Buddhist culture and art, the region is not very well-known in the Western world. As such, Obama’s visit to such a place holds a lot of significance. He visited the Wat Xieng Thong, a temple built in the 16th century. The name of the monastery means “Temple of the Golden City.” The monastery is a series of ornate buildings which were admired very much by the U.S. president.
Later the president had a meeting with Southeast Asian students where he admitted that the U.S.A.’s biggest drawback is that Americans know very little about other cultures. If they did, the nation would have become a much greater force than it already is. He also said that because of a common belief in America that the nation is very big, people think that there is no need to learn about other people, and that is what he says he is trying to change.
Obama has been known to be a strong admirer of Buddhism. In fact, he even carries a small statue of the Buddha in his pocket. During a speech while addressing the Laotians, he said that the strength they draw from Buddhism is very evident from the numerous stupas. He even called Buddhism a faith that tells its adherents that they have a moral duty to love each other, to live with honesty and kindness and that suffering can be ended if the right mind set and actions are adopted.