07/30/2015 03:36 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Gifts That I Received on His Holiness's 80th Birthday

Being invited to speak with His Holiness the Dalai Lama is in itself a humbling experience. His Holiness is truly a Great Navigator of Island Earth, an inspiration for us all as we aim to lead our communities towards a better future. Earlier this month, at the Global Compassion Summit held in Irvine, California in honor of His Holiness's birthday, a small panel was called together to celebrate his legacy of peace, kindness and universal compassion. And although we convened to honor His Holiness and his work, I want to take a moment to share with you the gifts that I received on His Holiness's 80th birthday.


The Gift of Young Leaders
On this day, I was again privileged to glimpse the hope and inspiration that lives in the hearts and minds of our youth. The topic we discussed at the Global Compassion Summit was the role of education in advancing universal human values. I found myself surrounded by young leaders who are creating the course towards a better future for us all. They venture to brave a world which at times has forgotten the lessons of the past, the beauty of a caring community. They take on the kuleana - the privilege and the responsibility - to help guide us into the next generation, which we hope will be filled with aloha.


The Gift of Education
What I thought deeply about on this day is that if you want to have a peaceful world, peace needs to be taught. We need to rethink the purpose and content of schools, and intentionally teach compassion, peace and aloha. What I accepted is that my generation has begun this amazing voyage to a more caring destination - but the generation I witnessed here, that shared their stories of hope, they and their children will eventually lead us there.


The Gift of Inspiration
I also found the gift of inspiration - His Holiness is truly a guiding light to us all, and his gravity has brought together groups like this one worldwide to inspire and lead those around them. As we travel the world with Hōkuleʻa, we must shape our sail plan to reflect and honor this inspiration, these youth and their communities, those that are living and leading by example. We will weave together their stories as a lei of hope encircling the world, to share this legacy of peace with generations to come.


The Gift of Hawaiʻi
And as I sat, listening to these young people sharing their vision of a more peaceful future, I thought about home, Hawaiʻi. About the inspiration I live everyday, in the midst of a thousand people who could easily have been asked to take my place on this panel. How I humbly accept a seat in this gathering of amazing people on their behalf, and know that I bring Hawaiʻi into this panel, into every panel, into every award ceremony or speech I have made in my life - I am but one, and I humbly represent the collective. I thought about how all over Hawaiʻi, young people are growing up in a setting where kindness, compassion and aloha are practiced and lived everyday. Hawaii, our island home, has the potential to become a model for learning to live well as islanders, in mindful balance of culture, environment and innovation - whether our islands are isolated land masses in the middle of the Pacific, or our Island Earth in the dark sea of space. I am grateful for the gift that is Hawaiʻi and her people, and express my love and aloha for my home and the people who are doing the work to help us sail towards a better future.


Hauʻoli La Hanau, His Holiness. Mahalo for all you do to navigate our Island Earth forward towards a better future.