I am pleased to send greetings on the Day of Vesak, which marks the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha. Vesak is a time for all Buddhists to reflect on the fundamental values of tolerance, compassion and service to humanity that are embodied in the Buddha's life and teachings. These values are echoed in the Charter of the United Nations, a promise by Member States to work in harmony for a world where women and men can thrive and prosper in peace and dignity.
The theme for this year, “Global Recovery: the Buddhist Perspective” speaks to the heart of global concerns at a time of multiple crises. When the economic and financial crisis hit, the poor suffered first and worst. They will take longest to recover. At the time, I urged world leaders to act in unison for the common good. Their synchronized response and the efforts of the United Nations helped to avoid a worse crisis. Valuable lessons were learned that are guiding our response as the fallout continues.
Such displays of solidarity are increasingly essential in today's interdependent world. They are reflected in the Day of Vesak itself, and the acts of compassion for the less fortunate that are part of its annual observance. Only by showing regard for others can we succeed in tackling the great challenges of our era: reducing poverty and hunger, reversing environmental decline, avoiding catastrophic climate change and creating a world of freedom, peace and justice for all. If we follow the true spirit of Buddhism -- or any of the other major religions of the world -- all these noble goals can be achieved.