The children of Idaho grasped compassion this week with guidance from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Thousands of Idaho children gathered Monday, Sept. 12, for the spiritual leader's address, "Laying the Foundation of the Future," at the Wood River High School football stadium in Hailey. The special address encouraged youths to lead peaceful and compassionate lives into the next century.
Emphasizing that one person can change the world, the program began with four young hosts prompting the audience to share their ideas for random acts of compassion.
A host of the youngsters embraced the opportunity for sharing their ideas of compassion: "Smile at an older adult." "Give someone food when they forget their lunch." "Be quiet when a friend needs to talk." "Love your enemies as you would love your friends."
Following the children's thoughts on compassionate acts, further examples arrived with songs from the Opera Idaho Children's Choir and a video entitled "Universal Compassion."
A light rain momentarily sprinkled the crowd, until His Holiness arrived to the stage and the sun began to warm the audience.
The Dalai Lama first offered a special blessing to 18 young Idahoans. The children were selected for writing essays describing compassion or by receiving a nomination for an act of compassion.
Among those selected for their essays were John David Davidson, 16, of Ketchum; Julia Bowman, 13, of Hailey, and Jackson Long, 11, of Hailey.
In her essay, Bowman wrote, "A soul that welcomes all people with open arms, new ideas with an open mind, and holds everything in the world close to their heart is compassionate and beautiful."
After an introduction from Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, His Holiness the Dalai Lama approached the microphone with his message.
With a warm grin, he began, "I think basic human nature is more gentleness, more compassion."
His Holiness continued that he viewed the 20th century as a century of bloodshed and destruction, and that he believed the 21st century would be one of peace.
He encouraged children to develop dialogue. "We have to respect others view," he said.
That responsibility fell to the young audience as he pointed to his muscles in jest and said, "We are ready to hand over all this possibility to you."
"Play together, smile together," he said.
He stated compassion takes work, not purely prayer and mediation.
After finishing his speech, His Holiness returned to the microphone to explain the symbolism of the white scarves given to all in attendance.
"I give you a symbol of respect," he said.
"I see a symbol of unity. Tradition from India. Material from China. Practice by Tibetans."
He explained that the symbolism of the scarf—white for pureness and the smooth texture for a purity of heart—encourages gentle compassionate actions.
Demonstrating acts of compassion as he left the venue, the Dalai Lama offered a special blessing to a Native American girl in a wheelchair. He then paused with the crowd extending his hands to those seeking individual blessings in a final gesture of compassion.
Eighteen Idaho students were selected by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne to receive a special blessing from His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his address to children on Monday.
Idaho students selected for their essays on compassion were:
John David Davidson, 16, Ketchum
Candice Roth, 16, Boise
Justine Debelius, 17, Boise
Amelia Jones, 12, Boise
Hayden Freedman, 12, Boise
Tsering Tsomo, 14, Meridian
Teresa Barros Bailey, 11, Hidden Springs
Kate Coll, 12, Boise
Kevin Russel, 13, Eagle
Julia Bowman, 13, Hailey
Jackson Long, 11, Hailey
Idaho students nominated by an adult for acts of compassion were:
Jackie Sandmeyer, 15, Boise
Erin Coyle, 16, McCall
Cody Weigt, 18, Boise
Alex Schneider, 15, Boise
Zachary Zanders, 12, Boise
Clay Lewis, 12, Boise
Katrina Smit, 6, Marsing