Today, millions around the globe celebrated His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 80th Birthday. The #WithCompassion birthday campaign included numerous accolades from musicians, celebrities, journalists, activists, and many other international figures of note. Some shared birthday song tributes, while others wrote articles detailing concerns about the worsening situation in Tibet.
Given the sensitive nature of foreign policy toward China, many have sought to distance themselves from His Holiness in order to avoid raising controversy over the issue of Tibet.
With much of real-time breaking news and campaign announcements being shared on Twitter nowadays, birthday greetings (or the lack thereof) to His Holiness on this particularly day were significant. Messages in commemoration of this historic occasion came from a diverse array of people, ranging from high-level government officials to Hollywood A-listers. Here are a few:
Most significant, however, was the deliberate silence on this day by key political and religious figures. The Pope issued no public birthday greeting to his fellow spiritual icon (note that he caught criticism last year for declining a meeting with His Holiness in Rome) and none of the US presidential candidates did either.
Although the White House did not issue a statement honoring His Holiness, the State Department – led by former US Senator John Kerry – offered a brief birthday tribute on their website:
I am pleased to extend warm wishes to His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the occasion of his 80th birthday on July 6.
People of diverse faith and non-faith traditions around the world are inspired by his messages of peace, compassion, and non-violence.
I have always appreciated His Holiness’ humor, wisdom, and humility, as well as his dedication to his people and to humanity.
I wish His Holiness the very best on this auspicious occasion.