“Thank you, Mary Beth Markey, for your kind introduction and your tireless efforts on behalf of the Tibetan cause. What a wonderful honor it is to be in the presence and to breathe the same air as His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
“I am pleased to see so many young people in the audience. Let’s applaud for the young people here this afternoon. A spiritual leader as a boy, His Holiness understands the impact young people can have upon the world. At age 15, he found himself as the leader of 6 million Tibetans facing an invading Chinese army. Today, around the world, young people are inspired by the message of the Dalai Lama and the cause of Tibet.
“As a young person, the Dalai Lama enjoyed mechanics and science. One of his favorite gifts was given to him a young boy when he was given a gold watch from President Franklin Roosevelt, showing the phases of the moon and the days of the week. Thus began a valued relationship between the United States and the Dalai Lama.
“He described the gold watch as ‘magnificent’ and took it with him when he fled Tibet in 1959. As a testament to his childhood curiosity, His Holiness still uses the watch today and his teaching about the connection between science and religion is a significant and relevant part of his message on this visit to the United States.
“His Holiness describes himself as a ‘simple monk, no more, no less.’ It is evidence of his transcendent message of peace that 16,000 people have gathered to hear the words of this ‘simple monk.’ He has traveled the world, building bridges between and among the different faiths. He explains: ‘Each religion has certain unique ideas or techniques. Learning about them can only enrich one’s own faith.’
“Consistent with his role as a spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama has made the human rights situation in Tibet an issue of international concern. So powerful is his image, that Tibetans are imprisoned for simply owning pictures of the Dalai Lama, and any public display of devotion to him is prohibited. When His Holiness accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, he did it on the behalf of oppressed people everywhere and all those who struggle for freedom and work for world peace. As a new Member of Congress in 1987, I was in attendance when the Dalai Lama proposed the historic Five-Point Peace Plan toward resolving the future status of Tibet.
“Indeed, the situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world. The United States must be committed to meeting this challenge ? only then, can we be consistent when talking about human rights in any other place in the world. Since his 1987 visit, His Holiness has traveled to the United States many times and his message of ‘Global Peace Through Compassion’ is needed now more than ever. It is an opportunity to nurture the spirit of interdependence that is embodied in His Holiness.
“To resolve the problems of today, His Holiness has said: ‘We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and for the planet we share, based on a good heart and awareness.’ To the challenges of conflict, AIDS, and extreme poverty, we must bring this message of global responsibility.
“Many honors are bestowed upon Members of Congress. None is more spectacular than the one I have this afternoon to share with you an audience and introduce the Dalai Lama.
“To have such an audience, Tibetans flee the repression in their own country, under the threat of torture and imprisonment. They walk for months, without adequate food or clothing, across the freezing Himalayan mountain passes. It is the most perilous escape route on earth. And after their audience, they make the trip once again, returning to Tibet to rejoin the rest of their family.
“A month of walking…over the largest mountains of the world…in the freezing cold … they do this for an audience with the Dalai Lama. It is a lot easier for us to be here for an audience with His Holiness today. Symbolic of the trek across the largest mountains of the world, we are joined by representatives of the different peoples of the Himalayan region. We thank them and you for being here today to hear this special message.
“God truly blessed the world with the birth and the reincarnation of the His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Let us all join in extending to His Holiness a warm 70th Birthday wish.”