Vancouver, BC, Canada, 30 September 2009 (By Rod Mickleburgh, The Globe and Mail) - He might have been Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder approaching the mosh pit, such were the ear-splitting squeals of delight from 16,000 star-struck teenagers as he abandoned his comfortable armchair to advance to the front of the stage at the city's packed hockey arena Tuesday.
But no rock star he. Rather, this was a 74-year-old, self-described 'simple monk,' who nonetheless manages to wow the world with his consistent, heartfelt message of the need for universal peace and compassion.
'I want to talk here,' the Dalai Lama said, ignoring a planned question-and-answer session and looking down at the thousands seated before him.
Tibetan spiritual leader speaks to youthful crowd at a packed Vancouver hockey arena
And talk he did. Emphasizing his points with passionate hand gestures, the Dalai Lama called on the youth of today to do a better job in the 21st century than his generation did with the last one.
'You are the seeds of a better future,' he told them. 'The 20th century had the most bloodshed ever. More than 200 million human beings killed through violent action. All were people just like us.'
It was time for a century of peace, a century of compassion, the Dalai Lama declared, as whoops and cheers echoed through GM Place and camera flashes lit up its darkened corners.
'Make the world very safe, very peaceful, very happy. You are the key generation to make that happen. There are still 91 years left. The future of the century is in your hands. Please, take care of it.'
The Tibetan spiritual leader was the most prominent of a dazzling array of speakers at the celebratory We Day event for young people, organized by Craig and Marc Kielburger's Free the Children charity. The roster included Mia Farrow, Jane Goodall, Governor-General Micha