Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Dalai Lama tells teens that compassion can change the world

The Dalai Lama entered Magness Arena to a standing ovation from about 3,000 PeaceJam youths and other participants who came to the University of Denver to hear him speak this morning.

“The reality of the modern world is that we all have to live together. We may as well live together happily,” he told the assembly. “‘We’ and ‘they’ are no longer relevant.”

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people and one of 10 Nobel peace laureates participating in PeaceJam’s 10th anniversary celebration at DU this weekend. The event brings to U.S. soil the largest congregation of Nobel peace laureates in history.

He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 in recognition of his advocacy of nonviolence in his struggle to liberate Tibet from Chinese occupation. The Nobel Committee noted that the Dalai Lama put forth “peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people.”

The Dalai Lama urged youths to make constructive use of their lives, since he said, “the major part of the century is in your hands.” He told the teens that they would need vision to fight starvation, killing, population increase, the fossil energy crisis and the increasing gap between rich and poor.

Although conflict will always be present, he said, solving conflict with the use of force is outdated. What is needed in the world today, he noted, was a spirit of compromise, reconciliation and compassion.

He said that the seed of compassion is present within every person and can be cultivated to grow and thrive. Compassion should start within the individual, he explained, and then branch out to the family unit, the community and eventually into one’s profession. In that way, he said, one person can make a difference.

PeaceJammer Anastasia Davis, from Cherry Creek High School in Denver, said the speech was inspirational.

“He said just being self confident is really important. I thought that rang true,” Davis said. “To be able to talk to people and to know in myself that what I think is right will make other people more accepting.”

The Dalai Lama also said that education fails to pass on teachings of kind-heartedness as well as the notion of unbiased compassion. That message resonated with John Lamb, a teacher from Lafayette, Colo.

“The idea of love and compassion that’s without attachment is easily said, but so hard for people—and maybe especially Americans—to understand and implement,” Lamb said. “I leave with the challenge to live it, to feel it and eventually to spread it.”

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