Last week, in the Elizabethan splendour of the Great Chamber of London’s Charterhouse, an evening reception hosted by world-renowned actress and activist Joanna Lumley marked the launch of the DLCC’s major fundraising programme.
The event also marked the launch of its Compassion Matters programme, in partnership with the Dragon School, Oxford. It was attended by many fascinating and inspiring people from diverse walks of life, ranging from theatre and the arts to academia, politics and beyond. All were united however by a shared conviction in His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s message of secular ethics, and a sincere concern for its dissemination and wider impact.
Joanna Lumley, an Honorary Fellow of the DLCC, created a warm and convivial atmosphere making the large crowd of supporters and friends of the Centre feel extremely welcome. At the same time she emphasised the importance and urgency of the Centre’s mission, expressing her confidence in the Centre’s ongoing and planned work and her hope for its future success. She brought joy, hope and moral determination to the gathering.
The Director of the DLCC Alex Norman spoke about the Compassion Matters programme. This project is inspired by the fundamental insight of the Dalai Lama about the value of compassion for building relationships with others, and for developing a secular ethic as a foundation of human happiness and flourishing. He stressed that in the modern world, increasingly multicultural and open to diverse influences, yet at the same time plagued by growing disparity of income and opportunity, a comprehensive programme of compassion-based education is more urgently needed than ever.
The highlight of the evening was a talk by DLCC Fellow Richard Moore – referred to by the Dalai Lama as ‘my hero’, and known by the affectionate title of ‘Derry Lama’. Richard recounted the deeply moving yet genuinely uplifting story of his remarkable life and his friendship with His Holiness. In 1972 at the age of 10 whilst on his way home from school in Derry, Northern Ireland, Richard was blinded by a rubber bullet fired at point blank range into his face. Richard described how from childhood to the present day, he never felt bitter or resentful about this event. On the contrary, on meeting the soldier responsible for his blindness many years later his attitude was one of forgiveness and companionship. His story serves as an inspiration to anyone who aspires to live a compassionate life and to attain the courage, perseverance and forbearance which that entails.
At the close of the event, Alexander Norman encouraged those present to consider supporting the Centre’s work as it embarks on two new projects bringing the ethics of compassion into schools and young offenders institutions respectively. These will run alongside the core research work of the Centre in Oxford.
With the generous help of its supporters and friends the DLCC will be in a position not only to continue this highly important work for the coming years but also to build and expand on everything it has achieved so far.