DHARAMSHALA: The National Constitution Centre based in Philadelphia bestowed its prestigious Liberty Medal 2015 on His Holiness the Dalai Lama on 26 October in recognition of his advocacy for human rights and non-violence worldwide.
Dr. Thupten Jinpa, the principal English translator to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Dr. Richie Davidson, founder and chair of the Mind and Life Institute, accepted the award on behalf of His Holiness, who could not attend due to health reasons. Hollywood actor and close friend of His Holiness, Mr. Richard Gere also participated in the award presentation.
However, His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed the ceremony through a video statement and reaffirmed his commitment to the promotion of human values.
“Respected dear brothers and sisters, I feel great regret as I could not come there to receive your precious award because of my health reasons. However I want to thank your organization for this recognition,” His Holiness said.
“When I received the Noble peace prize, I emphasised that I am just a simple Buddhist monk, no more, no less. But that award or that name, I consider as some kind of recognition for my contribution towards peace, non-violence and reconciliation. So similarly, I am deeply touched to receive this medal,” His Holiness added.
“Your award is a recognition of my effort, my little service to humanity. I am fully committed till death to the promotion of human values including freedom and liberty. I believe these are basic human values. Without liberty and freedom, human creativity cannot be utilised fully. Without individual creativity, it is difficult to progress. At the same time, liberty does not mean we have the freedom or liberty to utilise our destructive emotions,” His Holiness conveyed through the video.
Drawing on the difference that one person can make to effect change, His Holiness said, “Sometimes, you see, the problem is huge and an individual may feel, “oh, I cannot do much.” But you have to realise that a worldwide movement starts from an individual. It doesn’t come from the sky, not from the UN, or not from any government. But us individuals. First, an individual should take some initiative, then share it with your family members, then your neighbors, that way we change our way of thinking in the community. Eventually, the thinking of 7 billion human beings can be changed. So that’s my belief, my conviction. Thank you very much.”
National Constitution Center president and CEO Jeffrey Rosen said that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has always emphasised the ideals of freedom, dialogue, and tolerance. And for this reason he embodies the spirit of the Liberty Medal, which aims to honor men and women who strive to secure such blessings of liberty to people around the globe.
The Liberty Medal was established in 1988 to commemorate the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. It is an annual award that honours men and women of courage and conviction who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe. Previous Liberty Medal winners include Pakistani girls-rights activist Malala Yousafzai, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the boxer Muhammad Ali.
The National Constitution Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan institution devoted to the United States Constitution and what it represents. Located on Independence Mall, Pennsylvania, the center serves as an interactive museum; a hub of civic education; and a national town hall for constitutional dialogue, regularly hosting government leaders, journalists, scholars, and celebrities for public discussions including presidential debates.