Congresswoman and U.S. Senate Candidate Loretta Sánchez
Weighing in on Climate Change and Nuclear Weapons at the World Compassion Summit
Congresswoman and U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sánchez has represented California in the United States Congress for the past two decades. Her district in Orange County includes the cities of Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange and Garden Grove. A graduate of American University’s MBA program, Congresswoman Sánchez holds a senior position on the House Armed Services Committee and is the second-highest ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee. She is the founder and co-chair of the Women in the Military Caucus, co-chair of the Immigration Task Force, and also a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, and the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, preparing the U.S. for missile or nuclear attacks. Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie caught up with Loretta Sánchez while she was in Washington, D.C., and talked with her about her role in the Global Compassion Summit.
TJ: Congratulations on being invited to speak at the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday celebration in Orange County, California. Given your track record with sustainability and your stance on nuclear weapons, it’s understandable why you were invited. It was quite an eclectic group of individuals with a lot of young people involved.
SÁNCHEZ: Yes, it was diverse. I think that the people who were invited had real expertise, but all in different areas. The Dalai Lama has such a unique ability to reach young people. I think it will really be these young people and their voting patterns, their emphasis on the issues of climate change and human relations, that will help us to move forward in a positive way internationally with these issues. I think it was his efforts to marry a little bit of science with the social behaviors — and then say, “What are you doing about it, politicians?”
TJ: During the summit, you said, “We have enough nuclear weapons to blow up the world 23 times.” Can you expand on that?
SÁNCHEZ: I am one of those voices on nuclear proliferation and nonproliferation for more sanity. I’m one of those voices that says, “Let’s figure out how we can bring down the levels of violence and the level of threat against each other, nation to nation.” I would love to see all nuclear weapons eliminated.
TJ: What was the highlight of the event for you?
SÁNCHEZ: I think the highlight of the event was when he [the Dalai Lama] said to me, “A sore in the mouth needs to be healed from the inside. You have the opportunity to do that.” I think what he meant by that was, “You’re on the inside, Loretta. You might feel frustrated...” because I told him, “Look, I’m voting, I’m trying to change minds, I’m cajoling my colleagues, especially on the Republican side, to help us with this.” I think I might have been a little exasperated in my emphasis, and that’s when he turned to me and said, “You’re actually in the lion’s den, you’re actually in there — we need you in there fighting for this.”
TJ: How do you feel the Dalai Lama’s visit has impacted you as a person?
SÁNCHEZ: One of the things that he said to me was, “I have watched you for a while and you have an incredible ability to communicate with people. You have to use your voice more.” He said, “You are the voice, and you will have to speak up.” It has certainly impacted me. It’s inspired me. It’s a little scary when somebody of such gravitas says something like this to you. It’s both exciting and it’s an incredible responsibility — you can feel the heaviness and the weight of it.
TJ: What is it you admire the most about the Dalai Lama?
SÁNCHEZ: His ability to persevere even when the situation is dire; his ability to be optimistic; his ability to continue to move forward and show that there is a better way. tj
The complete article can be found in Issue #278 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.