“Nowadays the world is becoming increasingly materialistic, and mankind is reaching toward the very zenith of external progress, driven by an insatiable desire for power and vast possessions. Yet by this vain striving for perfection in a world where everything is relative, they wander even further away from inward peace and happiness of the mind.”
From My Tibet (1995) by the 14th Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan people. During his spiritual and political career, the Dalai Lama has earned numerous honorary doctorates and awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. In a global poll conducted by Harris Interactive in 2013, the Dalai Lama was considered the most popular world leader (he tied with former U.S. President Barack Obama).
Pulitzer Prize winning author Pearl Buck once observed, “Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.” [Emphasis added.] It is not often that you read about the privileged or 1-percenters who due to their great fortune (and you can read that one of several ways), realize or experience firsthand that the majority of people work very hard or even struggle — and falter — just to get by in this world. The response to this should not be contempt or indifference (witness, for example, how many governments treat their citizens), but rather, kindness and compassion. For inspiration, we should turn to the Dalai Lama who wisely observed: “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
It is in this context, that one can appreciate the legacy of Princess Diana, known as the “Princess of Hearts” for her passionate philanthropy, who wanted to make sure her children understood that the plight of the less fortunate. In a candid interview with Newsweek magazine, Prince Harry, who is passionate about charity work and has earned a nickname that would make his mum proud (“Prince of Hearts”), shares these insights: “My mother died when I was very young [Harry was 12; Prince William was 15]. I didn’t want to be in the position I was in, but I eventually pulled my head out of the sand, started listening to people and decided to use my role for good. I am now fired up and energized and love charity stuff, meeting people and making them laugh. I sometimes still feel I am living in a goldfish bowl, but I now manage it better.” Harry explains how Princess Diana taught her sons to appreciate an ordinary life and privacy; he elaborates, “My mother took a huge part in showing me an ordinary life, including taking me and my brother to see homeless people. Thank goodness I’m not completely cut off from reality.” [Emphasis added.] Indeed, empathy, is king.
Read related posts: The Measure of Civilization
The Importance of Empathy
The Importance of Reading
The Thirteen Commandments
The Flier that Launched 150,000 Phone Calls
For further reading: Pearl Buck, My Several Worlds: A Personal Record