66 years ago on this day, the 14th Dalai Lama became Tibet’s official head of state at the age of 15. Tenzin Gyatso, chosen to become the Dalai Lama when he was two, had to flee his country for India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising against China. (1950)
He has since received the Nobel Peace Prize and traveled the world, advocating for the welfare of Tibetans, teaching Tibetan Buddhism, investigating the interface between Buddhism and science, which enthralls him, and talking about the importance of compassion as the source of a happy life.
His Holiness (pictured here at age 5) is currently 80 years old. See Books and audio by the Dalai Lama on Amazon.com.
MORE Good News on this Date:
- The U.S. Capitol building held its first session of the U.S. Congress (1800)
- The Suez Canal opened, linking the Mediterranean and the Red Seas (1869)
- SALT I negotiations in Helsinki began aimed at limiting numbers of strategic nuclear weapons (1969)
- The first computer mouse was patented by Douglas Engelbart (1970)
- The Velvet Revolution dawned in Czechoslovakia when a peaceful student demonstration in Prague was brutally beaten back, sparking the biggest wave of public protests in 20 years and, on December 29, the successful overthrow, without weapons, of the oppressive communist regime (1989) *more below
- Israel’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a land-for-peace accord with the Palestinians (1998)
- U.S. Rep. John Murtha, one of Congress’ most hawkish Democrats, called for an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq (2005)
Three days after The Velvet Revolution began, the number of peaceful protesters assembled in Prague had swelled from 200,000 to an estimated half-million. A general two-hour strike, involving all citizens of Czechoslovakia, was held on November 27.
With other communist governments falling, the Berlin Wall opening, and street protests growing at home, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announced on November 28 they would give up their monopoly on political power. Barbed wire was removed from the border with West Germany and Austria in early December. On December 10, the Communist President Gustáv Husák appointed the first largely non-communist government in Czechoslovakia since 1948, and resigned. Alexander Dubček was elected speaker of the federal parliament on December 28 and Václav Havel (pictured, right) the president on December 29, 1989. After the Velvet Revolution, the first democratic election in 44 years was held in June, 1990, and brought the first completely non-communist government to Czechoslovakia.