Yesterday the Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, Myron Lowery, made headlines when he chose to greet the Dalai Lama with a fist bump. Though the Dalai Lama appeared to take the gesture in stride, laughing and offering his own fist, Lowery has received a flurry of criticism. In response Mayor Lowery fired back with an open letter defending the actions that his critics have deemed “inappropriate” and “disrespectful”:

I had been told by his representatives that the Dalai Lama had a wonderful sense of humor, and would enjoy the exchange. Indeed, he did. His Holiness laughed, returned the gesture, and gave me his blessings. And in our brief time together, I saw in his eyes the sparkle of kindness, love and good humor.

Lowery goes on to suggest that he was actually protecting the Dalai Lama by reducing the spread of germs. Lowery contends that he has been advocating the “fist bump” in Memphis as a way to avoid the spread of swine flu. The “fist bump heard round the world,” as Lowery himself dubbed it, has been discussed on several Buddhist blogs (see here and here.) To read more of Lowery’s take on his infamous fist bump, click here. [Image: CNN]

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