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Reach Out to Bridge Differences, Show Compassion on Global Scale, Secretary-General Urges in Message for Day of Vesak

by Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary-General, The Buddhist Channel, May 17, 2016

New York -- The following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on the Day of Vesak, to be observed on 20 May.

At this time of mass population movements, violent conflicts, atrocious human rights abuses and hateful rhetoric aimed at dividing communities, the sacred commemoration of the Day of Vesak offers an invaluable opportunity to reflect on how the teachings of Buddhism can help the international community tackle pressing challenges.

The fundamental equality of all people, the imperative to seek justice, and the interdependence of life and the environment are more than abstract concepts for scholars to debate; they are living guidelines for Buddhists and others navigating the path to a better future.

One Sutra tells the story of Srimala, a woman who pledged to help all those suffering from injustice, illness, poverty or disaster.  This spirit of solidarity can animate our global efforts to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, carry out the Paris Agreement on climate change, and promote human rights while advancing human dignity worldwide.

The actions of Srimala also illustrate the primary role that women can play in advocating for peace, justice and human rights.  Gender equality and the empowerment of women remain urgent priorities that will drive progress across the international agenda.

In just a few weeks, the United Nations will convene the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, where leaders will join activists and other partners to address the needs of millions of vulnerable people in crisis.  Buddhists and individuals of all faiths who are concerned about the future of humanity can help advance the Summit’s aims to uphold humanitarian law, protect civilians in conflict, and improve the global response to emergencies.

On this Day of Vesak, let us pledge to reach out to bridge differences, foster a sense of belonging, and show compassion on a global scale for the sake of our common future.


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