His Holiness the Dalai Lama had been invited by his close friend Mr. Richard Moore who was blinded at the age of 10 by a rubber bullet fired by an English soldier and who as an adult founded the NGO Children in Crossfire.
Mr. Moore and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who led Moore by the hand when they entered the stage, first met during His Holiness' visit to Derry, Ireland in 2000, where he was moved by the story of Mr. Moore and by his ability to forgive the perpetrator for his actions.
Before His Holiness began his talk on the subject of "Universal Responsibility", Mr. Moore had been asked to introduce himself and tell his unusual story of tragedy, forgiveness and charity to the audience.
Stressing a good family and community as well as great friends and a lack of bitterness as integral to his positive outlook on life he said: "I am generally glad to say that blindness has been a positive experience for me" and adding that "you can take away someone's eyesight, but you can't take away their vision".
Mr. Moore presented His Holiness the Dalai Lama with a metal shield representing both Celtic and Tibetan traditions and told the audience he was humbled to describe the Dalai Lama as a friend before. He then received a traditional white silk scarf, (Tibetan: Khata), from His Holiness, who called Moore his "hero" and jokingly referred to the Derry-born Moore as the "Derry Lama".
In his well known informal style, His Holiness several times made jokes during his talk, at one point even grabbing Mr. Moore's protruding belly, teasing him in a friendly manner by saying that he too should perhaps stick with the diet of monks, consisting only of breakfast and lunch and no dinner, to which the audience broke out in laughter.
Launching his talk with a lengthy reflection on the responsibility of human beings, the Dalai Lama said that "as humans our compassion and affection can, due to our intelligence, be extended to people with whom we have no relative relation. We are the only animals to be able to do that".
Because humans are social animals like many other animals, our individual survival and happiness depends on the rest of society, he said and proceeded to say that this was particularly true in today's reality, where the human population is approaching 7 billion people, making humans of today "very much interconnected and heavily interdependent".
In front of a captivated audience he then underlined humanity's innate gentleness and compassion, urging them to "pay more attention to your inner qualities", and pointing to Mr. Moore and the Tibetan people as a good examples. The Tibetan's ability to maintain inner peace in the face of difficult times makes their community "a much more happy one", he said.
In an address to the young people of Ireland, His Holiness said that considering one's surrounding within the boundary of one's immediate society was "out of date" and that their role today was a very important one with the people of his own generation ready to say "bye bye".
The last part of his appearance consisted of His Holiness taking questions from the audience. Asked about which advice he would give to the people of Ireland he replied that with the country facing economic problems the Irish should work hard, stay determined and self-confident and not feel discouraged and that tragedy can transform into more inner strength, just like it did for himself when he lost his country at the age of 24.
When asked for advice to people living in today's society where "it seems the main events in our lives are controlled by people you will never meet nor see", Tibetan spiritual leader said: "It is, I think, a fact that world belongs to humanity, different nations belongs to that nation's people not government, not the individual", and then stated his belief that having democratic elections is the best way. He also said that the media people play an important role and they should have "long nose like an elephant" in order to "smell what is going on behind them and inform the public".
Concluding his talk His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that he was sure things would change in this century and that, if we all use our vision and sense of responsibility, we can improve our world and make this century one