Introduction to the Dalai Lama

By Emily Mason

John Peters Humphrey’s speech titled “Introduction to the Dalai Lama” was presented in Ottawa on September 30, 1990. This speech highlights the significance of His Holiness (the Dalai Lama) and his visit to Canada’s capital for the unveiling of the Human Rights monument. John Peters Humphrey’s speech addressed friends and colleagues though he also wanted to reach the broader  Canadian public. Humphrey explains that the Human Rights monument is intended for those who may not comprehend, or who are unfamiliar, with the history of human rights.

The Human Rights monument was constructed by architect and artist Melvin Charney and was the first monument in the world to be dedicated to human rights.[1] The monument represents Canada’s tribute to human rights and is recognized as a national symbol. [2] John Peters Humphrey was the man to present His Holiness in Ottawa, representing a significant meeting of two notable figures who had contributed greatly to the development of universal human rights. Humphrey’s speech presents the theme that peace unifies people.

One can make note of the unity of peace noblemen by studying the history of John Peters Humphrey and His Holiness. John P. Humphrey was a Canadian born in 1905 and who identified as a Liberal with Socialist values. As a graduate of Law, Humphrey realized that the use of force was no manner to resolve a dispute. In response to human rights abuses, Humphrey drafted the Declaration of Human Rights in 1947-1948.[3]  On December 10, 1948, the Declaration was approved by members of the General Assembly and today is considered one of the United Nations’ most significant achievements.[8] In 1988 Humphrey was recognized for his contribution to Human Rights with the United Nations Prize for Human Rights advocacy. [4]

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, was born on July 6, 1935 in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet.[5] His Holiness assumed political power of Tibet following the invasion by China in 1950. Despite his efforts to establish peaceful relations with the Chinese, the brutal suppression by the Chinese led him to take exile in the Northern region of India in 1959. [6] For the purpose of establishing a democracy,  the Dalai Lama addressed members of the United States congress in Washington D.C. on September 21, 1987 proposing a Five-Point Peace Plan for Tibet’s uprising.[7] His Holiness was recognized for his contribution to peace when he was awarded the Noble Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle to liberate Tibet in 1989. [8]

Humphrey and His Holiness were both recognized for their lifetime achievements in pursuing peaceful resolutions in a non-violent manner. To have so much in common in their pasts and to be present at the unveiling of the monument represented a significant meeting of human rights advocates. Such moments are all but coincidental. Indeed, Humphrey notes in his speech; “It was no accident, I am sure, that this peace prize was awarded on an anniversary of the adoption of a world declaration on human rights.” His Holiness was born as a Bodhisattvas who are thought to be enlightened whose and purpose is to serve humanity.[9] The purpose of His birth was destined to lead to the greater good of mankind.[10] One might see the gathering in Ottawa as a destined event to recognize human rights and to honour those (much like His Holiness) whose life’s work was dedicated to promoting human rights.There’s a universal reason that brings people together, not by coincidence, but rather by destiny. John Peters Humphrey and His Holiness were destined for greatness, which proved to be true with their life accomplishments of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Liberation Movement of Tibet. It was simply a matter of time that such notable human rights activists were to cross paths, as they had the same interests in promoting human rights and the interests often came together to produce the end result much like the human rights monument.

 


[1] Russell, Bruce & Viloria James. “Melvin Charney”. (September 23, 2012). Historica Canada: The Canadian Encyclopedia. Accessed on February 13, 2016. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/melvin-charney/.

[2] Russell, Bruce & Viloria James. “Melvin Charney”. (September 23, 2012). Historica Canada: The Canadian Encyclopedia. Accessed on February 13, 2016. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/melvin-charney/.

[3] Bonikowsky, Laura & Kaplan, William. “John Peters Humphrey”. (March 16, 2011). Historica Canada: The Canadian Encyclopedia. Accessed on February 15, 2016. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/john-peters-humphrey/.

[4] Bonikowsky, Laura & Kaplan, William. “John Peters Humphrey”. (March 16, 2011). Historica Canada: The Canadian Encyclopedia. Accessed on February 15, 2016. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/john-peters-humphrey/.

[5]  “Brief Biography”. His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. (n.d.). Accessed on February 1, 2016. http://dalailama.com/biography/a-brief-biography.

[6]  “Brief Biography”. His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. (n.d.). Accessed on February 1, 2016. http://dalailama.com/biography/a-brief-biography.

[7]  “Brief Biography”. His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. (n.d.). Accessed on February 1, 2016. http://dalailama.com/biography/a-brief-biography.

[8]  “Brief Biography”. His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. (n.d.). Accessed on February 1, 2016. http://dalailama.com/biography/a-brief-biography.

[9] Samdup, Carole. “Failed Promise: 25 years ago the Dalai Lama unveiled Canada’s ‘Tribute to

Human Rights Monument.’” Tibet Talk: The Canada Tibet Committee Blog. (September 30, 2015).  Accessed on February 1, 2016. http://www.tibet.ca/blog/failed-promise-25-years-ago-the-dalai-lama-unveiled-canadas-tribute-to-human-rights-monument/.

[10]  “Brief Biography”. His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. (n.d.). Accessed on February 1, 2016. http://dalailama.com/biography/a-brief-biography.


 

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