Twice while on his widely ballyhooed recent visit to Idaho, President Bush rounded up invitation-only audiences to continue spreading his message of the need for more military action in Iraq to, by odd logic, pay tribute to those who'd already been killed there.
In contrast, another famous figure of global reputation is placing Idaho once again in the national and international spotlight with his own words of wisdom, words bound to have a far wider appeal than talk of war.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be in the Wood River Valley for several days speaking not of the virtues of military operations, but the lasting values of peace, compassion, brotherhood and the universal search for comfort for those in need.
As if to emphasize the broader appeal of the Tibetan Buddhist leader's message, the thousands who are expected at his two major public appearances Sunday and Monday at the Wood River High School stadium do not represent a single religion, nor a single political view or any one ethnic group.
Those who scrambled for tickets and seats at his public appearances need not profess loyalty to, or understanding of, Buddhism. Instead, their shared interest is in the Dalai Lama's message that drives the innermost goodness of most humans of character—a desire for peace, an outreach to all humankind as brothers.
This is to be a remarkable, even historic, experience for an area principally known worldwide as a year-round vacation playground and the hideaway for entertainment celebrities and business moguls.
For the hours the Dalai Lama is here, other parts of the world—especially through planned television coverage by CNN—will know us for setting aside time to selflessly honor virtue and to prayerfully hope for an end to pain and suffering.
This unforgettable event will be uniquely and permanently memorialized by the Sun Valley resident who inspired it and worked so diligently for years to achieve it, Kiril Sokoloff, a successful businessman who believes deeply in adhering to Buddhist tenets.
Sokoloff is donating to the community an 800-pound bronze Tibetan prayer wheel now installed at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden in a "Garden of Compassion" where the mystical powers ascribed to it can be shared over and over.
For Idaho, this is a special blessing. Now the state will have a reputation as the home of a magnificent Buddhist religious icon that symbolizes hope and brotherhood rather than the hate of the notorious, now-defunct Aryan Nations that once called Idaho home and smeared the state's character.