2001 Introduction – Written by Elizabeth Share
For as long as space endures,
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I, too, abide
To dispel the misery of the world.
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama
In 1999 during a private visit with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dick Grace gave voice to the kernel of an idea he was formulating: Would His Holiness be willing to come to an event that simply and directly conveyed the importance of compassion?
His Holiness enthusiastically embraced the idea and today we gather to celebrate Unsung Heroes of Compassion – the realization of that vision.
By honoring individuals who embody compassion in their everyday acts, Unsung Heroes of Compassion acknowledges that all acts of compassion make an important difference to the world. They allow us to express our spirituality, honor our disenfranchised as our teachers, and to learn that in helping them, without the expectation of return, we help ourselves. Finally, the remind us that acts of kindness must never be hindered by fear or complacency. There is no need to wait even a moment to improve the world.
Although our Heroes come from many countries and work with widely different constituencies, they have much in common. First and foremost, these are individuals who are reticent to accept personal honors. They would rather turn the spotlight from themselves to those in need and those who work alongside them. They share a strongly held belief that compassionate work is its own reward. Finally, they share a remarkable sense of purpose and devotion – one that seems increasingly rare in modern society.
Today we hope you will join us in acknowledging these individuals by renewing your own sense of responsibility to act with compassion. We hope you will be moved to express gratitude for the exquisite proof they represent that each and every one of us is the stuff of which heroes are made.
We hope you will leave determined to discover your own sense of purpose and joy.
- Elizabeth Share