Photograph by Phil Borges
What if you became the leader of your people when you were just 15 years old? That’s what happened to Lhamo Thondup, better known as the Dalai Lama. In 1950 he became the political leader of Tibet, now a part of China. But the Dalai Lama is more than just the head of his government. Promoting peace, compassion, and tolerance, he is also the spiritual leader of millions of people. Here’s what he told NG Kids about being a hero for peace.
National Geographic Kids: You work with an organization called PeaceJam, in which Nobel Peace Prize winners like you inspire kids to find peaceful solutions to problems. How can kids really help solve problems such as poverty and terrorism through peace?
The Dalai Lama: You need patience and determination. Study and become an expert in something, because education can bring compassion, peace, and harmony. That will bring self-confidence and stability. When you have all that, then you can influence others as an example. That’s the way to create more peaceful communities.
NG Kids: Can one kid really make a difference in the world?
The Dalai Lama: Yes. Because if everyone works hard, we can all make a difference.
NG Kids: How can kids promote peace in their everyday lives?
The Dalai Lama: Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open. We all have to live together, so we might as well live together happily. Realizing this helps you feel as if this whole world is one home.
NG Kids: You began training as the Dalai Lama when you were just five years old, but you still had time to play. What was your favorite game as a child?
The Dalai Lama: I made friends with two white mice who would always sneak into my room when I was studying, and they would try to distract me.
NG Kids: You have been recognized for your concern about the environment. Why is it so important to protect the planet?
The Dalai Lama: We need to care for every part of the Earth and the life upon it, because this affects future generations.
NG Kids: What are some of your favorite green tips that kids can use to help save the environment?
The Dalai Lama: When you leave your room, switch off the light. Recycle garbage—this one is easy! The most important thing is that these simple practices become a big part of your daily life. Then together we can make a big impact.
The Dalai Lama tells you how to practice these important human values for a more peaceful planet.
Recognize others as brothers and sisters who have every right to overcome their problems—just like you do.
Learn from mistakes—whether they are yours or others’—and try not to repeat them in the future. Forgive yourself and others so that mistakes are not repeated.
You won’t always agree or get along with everyone. But your future is with these people. So develop a sense of caring, tolerance, or compassion for everyone, even those you don’t get along with.
It’s a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on material gains. So be satisfied with whatever you have, and you will have more inner peace.
National Geographic Kids magazine, May 2009