As part of this year’s Earth Day activities in the City of Ann Arbor, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama delivered a special Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability. It was sponsored by the University of Michigan Office of the President and by the Center for Sustainable Systems in the School of Natural Resources and Environment. As an alumnus of the School of Natural Resources, I was very fortune in being able to get tickets for Aubrey and I to attend. His Holiness has long held views on the subject of the environment and has talked about it in the past. One prior address carried these statements:
“We are also being drawn together by the grave problems we face: overpopulation, dwindling natural resources, and an environmental crisis that threatens our air, water, and trees, along with the vast number of beautiful life forms that are the very foundation of existence on this small planet we share. I believe that to meet the challenge of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for his or her own self, family or nation, but for the benefit of all mankind. Universal responsibility is the real key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace, the equitable use of natural resources and, through concern for future generations, the proper care of the environment.”
His Holiness’ comments at this year’s Wege Lecture were infused with the same sort of gravity, compassion and wisdom. His message emphasized a wide range of topics, but the key points we took away were these:
- Every human life on this planet – all 6+ billion of us – is precious, and deserves compassion, affection and understanding.
- Every action we take matters, and every one of us has a responsibility to make positive change (environmental and otherwise).
- Increasing people’s awareness and understanding of our current environmental crisis is imperative to affecting change.
- Affecting positive environmental change requires that we consider, explore, experiment with, and implement new ideas in the way we live our lives.
To say that is was moving to be in the presence of a man of such peace and compassion would be a vast understatement. Truly, we couldn’t have asked for a more fitting start to this year’s Earth Day celebration than to hear His Holiness meditate on the topic of sustainability. We sincerely hope you’ll join us in celebrating humanity, taking responsibility, increasing awareness, and implementing new ideas in our lives as we work together toward a sustainable future.