Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Royal Address at Doon School Dehradun

(transcript of the Royal Address of His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Doon School, Dehradun India, October 23, 2010)

Your Excellency Shrimati Patil, President of India,
Your Excellencies,
Doon Alumni,
Chairman Analjit, Board members, Headmaster and students of Doon School,

I am delighted to be here at an important milestone in the history of an exceptional institution. We have all heard of Doon but I see the true worth of the school, in the presence of such a large number of alumni here today and in the commitment with which Doon Alumni of all ages, serve their alma mater. One must appreciate such a special lifetime bond between a school and her students. Even in my own country, I always ask people, whether they are civil servants or businessmen, to maintain close links with their old schools in rural Bhutan. With personal attention, they would be able to do so much more for their school and for the young students graduating from it. Doon school is of course different but the essence is the same. You give back to the institution that nurtured and shaped you and in doing so you share the fruits of your education with those that come after you. The bond between Doon school and her students has far deeper meaning than one sees at first, and the need for such bonds extends beyond Doon to other academic institutions, to societies and to nations. I commend the ‘Old Boys’ of Doon and say to you, that your example is one to be emulated.

To the students of Doon - I will keep my words short so you can enjoy the rest of your special day with your friends and family.

Youth is all about energy, action, playfulness, fun, mischief, learning, friendships – so many wonderful things. I envy you – you have so much to look forward to – your first kiss for some of you; first girlfriend; true love; riding a bike or driving a car or travelling away from home for the first time; the freedom of university life; the innocence and purity of youth … I envy you and I urge you, live your youth to the full. Celebrate these joyful urges. Enjoy everything that student life and youth have to offer.

When it is time to study – study. If you are going to play sports, do it with full drive and energy. Approach everything you do with passion and absorb and enjoy the experience whether you’re learning to play a guitar, climb mountains or hit a cricket ball. Enjoy your school life to the full. This is your time.

In this modern world, there is the danger that the force of competition and eagerness to overcome challenges ahead - will take out the joy in learning and growing. I know there are certain realities we face as children and as parents and that we are all trying to adapt to a changing world but challenges are a part of life - as you grow older life is going to bring enough of them: university admissions; getting the right job; failure; sorrow at the loss of loved ones; trying to keep up with your neighbours and colleagues; betrayal; sickness; the list is endless. But the fact that life is full of challenges does not mean that you should stop being young. Someone said, “Life is a marathon, don’t make a hundred meter dash today!” You will burn out early on in the race. Pace yourself wisely and remember it is not how you begin the game that matters it is how you’ve played it in the end. Yes, I know, all of you want to get into a good university but there is a big difference in preparing for university and preparing for life. In the preparation for life, there can be nothing better than a well-rounded education and wholesome growth of character. For that you have to live your life as a young man to the full.

Now, I must have read this many years ago in some magazine or on a greeting card. “Live each day as if it is the first you’ve ever seen and the last you’ll ever see.” I don’t think it means we should leave everything behind, be irresponsible and reckless and do whatever we want. No, it means, every day gives us the fresh chance to strive for something important to us – that it’s never too late to strive for greatness.

And if we imagine each day as the last day we’ll ever see - we gain the confidence to make the right choices in life – to aim for what our heart truly desires; we gain the confidence not to be carried by the current of other people’s thoughts; the guts to do what is right; to withstand the fear of failure or embarrassment; to push away the distractions and focus on what is truly valuable to us. You will even find the courage to finally speak to the girl of your dreams!

Today everything is about success. Everyone wants to be successful and in this day and age success is inevitably equated with money and power. But is that success? What is true success? This is a question philosophers might vex over! For me real success needs so many ingredients: a happy school life; true friendships; good health; a job one loves; a sense of worth to oneself and others; strong family relationships, good marriages; the ability to appreciate nature; living in harmony with others around us; so many things.

To make young boys crave for success in life today is to ask too much. But … to ask young boys to be good human beings – that I think is the right education.

You see, success in not an individual thing. As a student how successful are you really if you do not have true friendships and experiences that help you grow as young man? As a man, how successful are you if happiness as a son, father or husband eludes you? And finally as an Indian how can you truly succeed unless Mother India and your fellow Indian brothers and sisters succeed? As human beings we have an inherent duty to others. Thus, we will most likely find true success and happiness when we combine our ambitions and goals with being a good human being.

Where do you see yourself in the future? What do you want to achieve? What would make you happy when you turn 50 or 60 and look back on your life? Is it going to be one full of satisfaction and fulfillment or will it be one of regrets? I don’t know.

But the one thing I can tell you is that you are at the beginning of a long journey. You are young – life will be full of opportunities but as your life unfolds you will find life is not without challenges. The question is, at the end of it all, what is story of your life going to be?

Let me share my experience with you.

I always imagine my life as a book, not a real book but a book that I am engaged in writing. When I do this, I find that every moment brings the urge and energy to do something special, something worthy to write into the book. When I am confronted by some challenge, I find the opportunity to write a wonderful tale of hardship, suffering, hard work, determination and commitment. When faced by the temptation to take short cuts and cheat, the book serves as my conscience.

Doing this gives me wonderful perspective. I find that success does not go to my head and failure does not crush me. As events unfold, I am able to keep my eyes on the ultimate goal – to live a life without regret – a life that would make wonderful reading. After all, like anyone else, I want the story of my life to be as good as possible.

Please try it for yourself. It would make me so happy if it helps you… even a little. I pray that each of you will be a good human being leading honorable lives on which one day you will look back with great pride, satisfaction and fulfillment. Above all, I pray for your personal well-being and happiness.

Finally, to the families of students, I hope you do not mind that it is a young man from Bhutan – who has stood here speaking to your children about life – especially as I have no children of my own! Let me say I may not be an expert, but memories of my own childhood are very vivid while yours might be fading! I am of course joking.

On a serious note, even as King, I have no other duty than to work for the long-term future of my country. And because the obvious fact is that the future of a country must mirror the quality of her younger citizens, I spend most of my time with students and youth. It is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my work. I want to thank all the parents for giving me this opportunity to speak to your children, who no doubt, I will one day meet as leaders around the world.

Thank you all for listening to me. Students, I will be spending this evening with you. I look forward to conversing with you about whatever interests you have and things you want to talk about.

Thank you, Your Excellency. Thank you everyone. Shukriya!

(Delivered in English. Also present as guests were of Indian President Patil, Uttarakhand governor Margaret Alva, UttaraKhand chief minister Ramesh Pokriyal and Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal. Audience inclused eminent Doon alumni like Prannoy Roy of NDTV, Karan Thapar, minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and others)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Staunchest proponent of Indo-Bhutan Friendship - King of Bhutan

Transcript of His Majesty’s Special Address to the NDC Golden Jubilee Inaugural Session:

(HM is greeted with a huge applause as he leaves the dais he was sharing with Indian President, chiefs of Indian armed forces, navy and air force)

Most Honourable President of India,

Your Excellencies,


NDC family,

I remember vividly my days at the National Defence College. I can recall looking at the plaque bearing Pandit Nehru’s speech at the entrance of the building, as I walked in on my first day. From that moment on, every time I attended classes, presentations or various NDC activities, I was constantly reminded of Pandit Nehru. Not simply the words on the plaque – though profound they are.

It’s the spirit of Nehru - one can always sense the complete dedication and commitment to country in Pandit Nehru’s every word and action. And throughout my stay here, I found that the institution of NDC, embodies that noble spirit.

There is a sense of purpose in the establishing of the NDC, the activities it undertakes and the manner in which every senior Indian official who attends NDC approaches their stint here. This singular purpose is the strengthening of Mother India. I have great admiration for the institution and for the people who have been through its doors and gone on to serve India so well.

The high standards of achievement, experience and commitment shown by those at NDC are a direct result of the achievements of India as a nation, and herald the immensely bright future ahead.

I came to NDC as the Crown Prince of a friendly country. I came to learn and to be a part of the Indian family. Yet, I shall remember my year in Delhi at the NDC for one thing – optimism. Why? I saw, up close, in my interactions with leaders in government, civil service or private sector – my daily work at the NDC – and personal experiences throughout the city – the immensely bright future for India. And as India’s closest friend and neighbour, this bright future augured nothing but the best for Bhutan as well. I came to India in early 2005 as a friend of India, appreciative of the role of India in Bhutan’s progress. I left a year later, as the staunchest proponent of Indo-Bhutan friendship as the key to Bhutan’s future, even in this new globalized world.

(huge applause)

Your Excellency, my dear friends, India is a world leader. It is not her economic or military might alone – above all, it is the character of the Indian nation - her commitment to democracy, to engendering global equality among nations, to liberty. This noble Indian character is directly reflected in the unique steadfast friendship she, a giant of a nation in every respect, has forged with a small Himalayan neighbour.

My friends, when I came to the NDC, I had no idea at the time that my father would abdicate in 2006. So I had a year in which I had the freedom and time to experience the social and cultural life of Delhi; and the good fortune to meet and learn from many of India’s senior leaders in government and business and above all, to make friends for life. When I look back, I feel it was destiny that gave me the most wonderful opportunity to spend myy last year before becoming King, in India.

(huge applause)

Thus, coming to NDC is one of the best decisions I have made. My love and affection for India and her people was further strengthened by a complete faith in the greatness of India and the bright future ahead for our two nations.

Before I conclude, I must say, Your Excellency, that it is a special honour to be in the presence of the President of India for whom I have the highest regard and respect. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Government of India for the warmth and kindness with which they have received me and arranged my visit. I thank the Commandant of NDC and its esteemed faculty for the excellent preparations and for inviting me. I am delighted to be back, especially to have been reunited with my friends from the 45th Course. (huge applause) What a wonderful time we had yesterday evening. (LAUGHTER and applause)

Ladies and gentlemen, you know that I consider myself a part of the Indian family

(huge applause)

and nothing makes me happier than being able to return to India. So I thank you for having me here and I look forward to many more meetings in the future.

Thank you la!

(HM is greeted with a huge applause and an ovation)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Seven high points in my life. Until now.

Business Bhutan - the country's first financial newspaper asked me to feature in their Seven page. Here is what I shared about myself in that page.
1. Graduation, 1995: Doing my university studies in Italian was tough that I doubted if I would even complete. I not only graduated but did it with a distinction from the University of Bologna. As a part of a bet, my friends threw me into the icy sea with my Ferre suit on.
2. Birth of Tseten, 1997: The birth of our elder daughter gave back our lives. Earlier my wife, who was expecting a twin, had a miscarriage and we were both shattered. When Tseten came to life, we also felt like getting a rebirth. Our second daughter Dechen brought back all the laughter in our home.
3. Launching BBS TV, 1999: In 1995, in my final year at the university, I developed a technical proposal to introduce TV in Bhutan. I sent it over to Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley who was then Bhutan’s Representative to the UN in Geneva. Bhutan Television was born. But many obstacles came in between and project only got through in January 1999. On June 2 as I escorted Her Majesty Ashi Tshering Pem to switch on the signature logo, I felt a great sense of achievement. The country was celebrating the Silver Jubilee of Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s reign and the launch of television was a highlight. I can never forget the smile on the face of our legendary King as he announced the era of television.
4. BBS FM project and the ABU Engineering Prize, 2000: FM technology was written off because of our mountainous terrain. But my field tests with low-powered transmitters proved otherwise. Of course, I couldn’t predict the signal at high power with possible multipath fading and interferences. Nevertheless, we went ahead with our National FM project. When we switched on our first station from Dochula I was so excited with the results that we kept travelling for days and nights doing field measurements. For my works in VHF band in mountainous areas and for introducing TV in Bhutan I was conferred with the Asia Pacific Engineering Prize in Manila.
5. Winning Japan Prize, 2003: Winning the first major international documentary award came as a surprise because I was never trained as a filmmaker. In the run-up to the Grand Finale, I was the underdog. So I joked with the organizers that if I won, my country should be announced first. When the result was declared and the presenter went, “And the winner is – from the Kingdom of Bhutan…..” I went totally blank. I could barely feel my feet as I walked up to receive the award. And when I lifted the prize, I saw the entire hall clapping – including the Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito. It was such an emotional moment that I broke down.
6. CICCC & the Coronation Medal, 2008: Together with two of my friends, I organized the Citizens’ Initiative for Centenary & Coronation Celebrations despite a series of bureaucratic hurdles and a persistent badmouthing by people. But with the Coronation Medal conferred on three of us and as 56 days of music, laughter and celebrations closed on December 31, the National Geographic Channel interviewed me and asked me, "what remained on me of the whole experience," I replied, “Now I can die a happy man!” I really meant that.
7. In His Majesty’s Service, 2009: Being summoned to serve His Majesty directly is the greatest honor one could be bestowed as a Bhutanese. For a week, I went around like a zombie in total disbelief. Captain Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who safely landed a damaged passenger jet on Hudson River with 159 passengers on board, told in one of his interviews that he thought that his “entire life up to that moment was a preparation for him to handle that moment.” I felt something similar. I wonder if my entire professional career, the shift toward journalism and the numerous international awards that actually went unrecognized in the country were all a “preparation” for this big assignment. I have now started believing in fate, destiny and hard work. The opportunity that His Majesty gives me to serve the people is perhaps what really makes my current assignment very fulfilling - because that is the most direct way possible.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Let's build a generation with a conscience" - King of Bhutan

I reproduce the Commencement Address of His Majesty the King of Bhutan at Calcutta University, 5 October 2010.
Honorable Chancellor and members of the University, Distinguished guests, And my dear students of the University of Calcutta,
You may have in the past had as speakers, leaders from your society and country – whom you could identify with and might even wish to emulate. Sometimes you would have had speakers from beyond India, who were nonetheless familiar as famous leaders in their respective fields. I fit in neither of these categories. Still, I feel so much at home and among friends as I stand here today. After all, India is Bhutan’s closest neighbour and friend and beyond that, the great state of West Bengal has been Bhutan’s partner and comrade since time immemorial. I feel privileged to be here at this august institution and I feel a deep sense of happiness in being among so many of Bhutan’s young friends. I thank you all for this opportunity.
Today, I am here to share my thoughts and experiences with you, people of my own generation, who face the same challenges and opportunities that I do. I am here for a simple conversation, and only hope you will take away something from it.
I don’t want to talk about what the world should do or what countries should do – or about great subjects and issues and what leaders must do. Instead, let us talk about what we, the youth, should do and how we should live our lives as individuals – about how we are going to tread this earth during our time. What kind of footprints are we going to leave as our generation gives way to that of our yet unborn children?
To do so, first of all, lets get an idea of the kind of world we have been born into - the one you are entering after this convocation. It is not a pretty picture, I must warn you.
Now, these facts and figures that I quote are easily available anywhere, and one quick glance on the web will give you much more information than I can read out to you today.

First, lets talk about the environment:
If you listen to these numbers, it is alarming how reckless we have been and continue to be. Something as fundamental as the environment – the Earth – has been forsaken for profit:
· Up to 70% of the world’s known species risk extinction if the global temperatures rise by more than 3.5 degrees centigrade.
· Every second, rainforests the size of a football field disappear
· Water problems affect half of humanity
· Glaciers are receding
· Often as a direct result of the disrespect for the environment, natural disasters become more frequent and forceful. Very recently, disasters have struck Ladakh and most parts of Pakistan
· The costs of natural disasters can set back a community or nation by decades – not to speak of the lasting emotional damage inflicted on the people affected
Yet, sadly, there is not much hope for quick global action that is so essential. As we all know, the efforts to build global cooperation towards a lasting solution have been failing regularly. It seems the interests of humanity always lose out when faced with the interests of individuals.
It is quite clear now, that we will be handing to our children, a world which has been, in so many ways, made worse than when we inherited it.
Now, lets talk about poverty:
In a world that has seen unprecedented material growth:
· The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for only 5 percent of global income while the richest 20 percent get 75%
· More than 1 billion people live on less than a dollar a day
· 24,000 children die each day due to poverty
· About half of humanity – 3 billion people - live in cities – of which 1 billion are confined to slums.
· The problems of poorer countries and people are often worsened by corruption.
In developing countries, bribes alone total $20 to 40 billion a year – imagine what it could do for health, education and economic opportunities for the poor.
Poverty brings hardship, suffering and untold misery to the poor. But those in richer communities or nations should be mindful that with such disparities come disharmony, conflict and ultimately instability on a global scale.

What about health?

· 1 billion people lack access to proper health care
· 11 million children under the age of 5 die every year from malnutrition and preventable diseases
· 300 million suffer serious sickness due to malaria and 1 million die each year
· 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS of which only 4 million have access to antiretroviral treatment
All this in a world that prides itself on scientific achievement. We can send people to the moon but we cant find out how to get essential medicines into the hands of those who need it the most.

Then there is the global economy:

· The unpredictability and imperfect legislation of advanced economies has caused instability and uncertainty in poorer countries affecting the already insecure livelihoods of their people
· Coupled with military spending the world’s future is even more unpredictable and dangerous. World military expenditure in 2009 was estimated at $1.5 trillion or about $225 for each person in the world
· The poor countries, most in need of resources are typically the ones with the weakest voice in how the global economy is shaped
Thus, we are only laying the groundwork for a world of inequality and resentment – of future conflict over resources and livelihoods – of continued strife, of terrorism and instability.
The list of global problems goes on and on. And coupled with the rapid growth of the world’s population – from 2 billion in 1930 to 6.8 billion today and 8 billion in the next 10 to 15 years. That is something to think about.
I could summarize everything and put it simply – “The greatness of humanity, of science and inventions, of great philosophers, of enterprise and industry has undoubtedly brought the world immeasurable benefits. Today we live a life far removed from that of our forefathers. Yet, we face new and greater global challenges. Why? Because – growth that overlooks inequality, injustice, environmental degradation, unbridled consumption is ultimately unsustainable. And it will continue to throw in humanity’s way greater and greater problems, until one day when we will not be able to repair the damage.”
So what do we do when our generation is faced with such great challenges? I suppose we must first acknowledge, even as we contemplate the sad statistics that define our predicament that one lesson history has taught us is that we are the authors of our own global problems.
I believe that every generation has faced its great challenges as far back as we can find the history for. And every generation – has ultimately realized, often too late – that humanity faces its darkest moments when we forsake the very characteristics that make us truly extraordinary living beings – our human Conscience – our Values.
As we begin to play our role – from the moment you leave this hall - let us not speak of world leaders and great nations – let us demand answers from ourselves, as individuals. What is our role?
Did we ever sit down and think about this while at university? Some of us will have done so – but most of us feel limited in our capacity to make real change – most of us would think - we are young – we are not billionaires or world leaders or famous celebrities – we are students fresh out of college – it is difficult enough for a young person to survive – to make a living – shouldn’t it be world leaders who make a change in the world?
This is the flaw – this waiting for saviors – why must the world wait for a few individuals to be born?
In a way, the environment we live in inculcates in us this outlook to life – those words we use so often at university - competition, future, jobs, income, investment and other such words –nothing wrong with the words – except that we have slowly become their victims not their masters. In the absence of other ways to qualify and evaluate success in education, we equate success with money or power. Even Mahatma Gandhi during his time felt that we had no idea what education really meant and how to put a value to it. It is the same today. We know what we get if we work hard, a good degree and find a good job – we get a nice car, nice house and the appreciative admiration of others. We don’t know what we get exactly from being honest, just and compassionate. The benefits from this do not accrue so easily or visibly.
But as Gandhiji said, “an education which does not teach us to discriminate between good and bad, to assimilate the one and eschew the other, is a misnomer.”
For our generation, no matter what we have all studied in university or where we are from, we have been born into a world where it is more likely that we will pursue material rewards more than what is morally right – that we will follow the path of individualism at the cost of community and fraternity. This is the direction we have been pointed towards by the kind of growth the world has pursued.
How unfortunate – for if we take this path - then no matter how much scientific or material progress is made in our lifetimes, global problems will prevail, in fact multiply and we will continue to endanger each other and the future of our children.
But how wonderful if we decide today that we will make the effort, as individuals, to try and solve global problems, to make the world a better place for our children and for the less fortunate among us. If we decide to change the way we are expected to think and behave. If we, in this room, seize this chance to do things differently. If we act without waiting for great leaders to be born. If we can believe in the extraordinary potential of simple human values then …. We can be the generation that made the difference – the generation with a conscience – the generation that the world has waited for, for so long.
None of us here may have, today, the wealth or skills to combat natural disasters or plug the ozone layer or remove world poverty. But we know that there is one thing we can change – that is ourselves. That is the most important thing – that is the one obvious starting point in our quest to find a solution to global problems - one’s self. As Gandhiji said, “Be the change you want to see.”
Do not feel alone, small or inconsequential. Too often leadership is associated with one great person giving an inspiring sermon to the masses and leading them to greater heights. I would be happy with this version of leadership if only it happened enough. By enough I mean if great leaders led millions everyday all over the world and solved all our problems. But that is not going to happen. We need millions of Mahatmas but history has given us only one.
Therefore, even if all of us cannot own billions or rule the world - what we can do for certain is we can touch the life of one person at a time – that is what is humanly possible and that is the great equalizer – whether you are the richest woman in the world or an ordinary man making a living you have the same power to truly touch someone with kindness, compassion and care.
When I speak about kindness, compassion and care – I know I may sound naive but the fact is that I believe in what I am saying. What I am saying is that in this global village – on a daily basis we are not fighting world wars or military conquest – every single day we are fighting the consequences of simple human negligence, complacency, lack of compassion, inequality. What we need is not a Leader to lead the Masses - we need Leadership of the Self.
This is my message today. I do not know how to find the cure for diseases and I cannot tell governments or multinationals to respect the environment - but I can assure you with all confidence that each of us can be better individuals – better human beings. Whether we become farmers, scientists, inventors or bureaucrats, the one thing we can all do alike is to live our lives according to the values of kindness, integrity, justice – we can be good human beings.
How does Leadership of the Self – being better human beings - translate to a better world?
Well, there are … hundreds of us here today and thousands more under the University of Calcutta. Some of us will become scientists, some corporate leaders, some national leaders and teachers so on. The difference will be that as good human beings we will be scientists who make the right inventions and cures; corporate leaders who do business with ethics; national leaders who keep in mind the weakest sections of society and the welfare of future generations; teachers who nurture and build good people. Imagine all the good we can do with the skills that our education provides, the tools that science and technology offer and all the resources of the world.
See, throughout history, we have always had the resources, the technology and science to not only solve but also actually prevent the problems that have plagued our world. What we lacked at certain moments is the Conscience to direct these resources to their right and noble use. When 24,000 children die every day due to poverty, we spend $1.5 trillion dollars on arms and ammunition. So now we can direct a missile at a target on another continent with the simple press of a button, but we cannot yet bring safe drinking water to half of humanity. We always had the resources. We lacked steadfast commitment, conscience and compassion.
I hope you see why I have kept speaking about the need to develop ourselves as individuals before we seek change in the world. We live in a highly globalized and interdependent world, a world where problems facing humanity like poverty, disease, war, strife do not recognize borders of nation, ethnicity or religion. It affects all of us; it affects every part of the world.
The solution to global problems will not just materialize from politics, from great leaders or from science and technology. The solution will come from us living as citizens of our communities, our societies, our countries and above all as citizens of the world. As citizens of the world, our unifying force – our strength must also come from something that is not bound by nation, ethnicity or religion – from fundamental human values.
Values shape the future of humanity.
Values are the root of our character – if we do not tend the roots, the character that springs from it no matter how much wealth, power and fame surrounds it will bring little benefit to oneself, the lives of others and to the well being of the planet.
All these buildings, monuments, this life that we hold so dear – all of these must give way and perish – not Values – Values of kindness, integrity, justice. Even death shall not extinguish them. Nothing travels endlessly with time and stays relevant from generation to generation, era upon era except fundamental human values.
I hope we will realize that we are at the cusp of a fundamental change of thought – a social revolution that will change the way humanity will pursue growth forever. Our generation is called upon to rethink, to redefine the true purpose of growth. And in doing so, to find a growth that is truly sustainable.
We must never forget that for lasting peace and happiness in this world, the journey forward has to be one that we must all make together. No one should be left behind.
This we must achieve without waiting for some great leader or genius who may or may not ever emerge – we should instead seek to do so, each of us, on our own. As we become better human beings, we build better families, stronger communities, successful nations and a peaceful stable world for ourselves and our future generations. It all starts with Leadership of the Self.
Now, as you go into life beyond university – you might say – everything that Jigme has said, I have thought about them before … and … I want to be a good human being – a kind person - a just person – but sometimes its not enough to be good. How does one cope in this ever-changing world, where the ups and downs are so unpredictable?
Yes, the world may not be an easy place – and life can be hard sometimes. If it is of any worth to you, let me share my approach to keeping myself on the right path. It is a simple way in which I try to keep my goals, hopes and aspirations and above all my conscience always in the forefront.
I imagine my life is a book that I am engaged in writing. In so doing, I find that every moment brings the urge and energy to do something special, something worthy to write into the book. When I am confronted by some challenge, I find the opportunity to write a wonderful tale of hardship, suffering, hard work, determination and commitment. When faced by the temptation to take short cuts and cheat, the book serves as my conscience. In the end, after all, like anyone else I want the story of my life to be as good as possible. But this story is written by my own best judge – the one that cannot be cheated or deceived – myself. As is said in the Gita – “Let a man raise himself by himself; let him not lower himself; for he alone is the friend of himself; he alone is the enemy of himself.”
So my young friends of the University of Calcutta - let us - you and me - today introduce a new Individualism - the individualism of values – that seeks the progress of oneself as an individual - as a human being – and thus, the progress of humanity.
Before I conclude, thank you for having me here and for taking the time to listen. I want you to know that being here with you means a lot to me. It has been a real privilege. As you begin your lives after university, I pray that all of you go will go on to live wonderful happy lives; that you will find true love - its important you know – some of you may have already found your soul-mate, some waiting in anticipation while some desperately looking for one – well, Good Luck - I hope it leads to happy marriages and beautiful children who make you proud and bring you comfort.
On a more serious note – I pray that you will find wisdom, courage and determination to overcome challenges and grasp opportunities; I hope that you will develop a strong moral compass that will help you navigate towards leading honorable lives. I pray that at the end of it all, you will all be able to look back at extraordinary lives free of regret, full of satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment. And that I will learn, year after year, with great pride, of all the good you have done as wonderful human beings and as my friends.
Thank you.
Tashi Delek!