Today’s Brilliance from Dylan Mahalingam

In 2006, something that I had been wanting for what felt like forever finally happened. It was the year my family got a dog. We named her Nestlé. I had known that there would be changes when Nestlé joined our family, but there was one change that I never anticipated.

Before we brought Nestlé home, I remember reading tons of books and watching TV shows like the Dog Whisperer…. My family wanted to know how to take care of our new (and first!) puppy.

These books told us that we should assert our role as master right from the start. It made perfect sense, until Nestlé actually came home with us. I found myself attending to Nestlé’s every little need. I was filling and cleaning her food bowl, making sure she had clean water and taking her out on walks.

Master? It didn’t seem to fit. There she was getting every need taken care of without ever having to lift a paw. I realized that no one can ever call themselves the master of any dog, or any pet for that matter.

I started thinking about other relationships in my life, and realized that I never was and never will be anyone’s master. I will always be serving someone at every moment in my life. I also realized that is true of us all.

Parents serve children and children serve parents, siblings, and friends. Heads of big corporations serve employees, teachers serve students and principals serve teachers and students. Presidents serve the entire country!

Bringing Nestlé home ended up being a transforming experience for me. My interactions with Nestlé helped me understand that it does not matter what our title is, what qualifications we possess, which country we are from, or how we view ourselves in comparison to others.

Our position, no matter who we are or where we live, is and will always be one of service. In fact, as we get older and gather more experience and respect our capacity to serve and help others grows. So if we can all realize and accept that our role will always be one of service, we can all have what we are hankering for – peace.

Dylan Mahalingam

Dylan Mahalingam, 16, co-founded Lil’ MDGs (, a unique international development and youth empowerment organization based in New Hampshire, at the age of 9. Lil’ MDGs’ mission is to leverage the power of the internet, digital, and social media to educate, engage, inspire, and empower children in all corners of the world to forward the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). To date, they have mobilized over 4 million children worldwide to work on a variety of issues. They now have more than 24,000 regular volunteers hailing from 41 countries.

Dylan travels internationally to speak at UN conferences, summits, schools, and various youth groups. Dylan is the Chief Strategist and Project Ambassador for Under the Acacia (, a non-profit organization working on projects in Africa. In this capacity, Dylan is part of an international team that helped build two schools for remote Maasai communities in Kenya.

Dylan serves as an organizing partner and panel chair for the World Summit Youth Award events held under the umbrella of the UN Global Forum on ICT and Development. Dylan also serves on the National Board of Directors member for the Nestle Very Best in Youth Foundation, and as President of the Board for the international non-profit Kodomo MDGs in Japan. Recipient of numerous international and national honors, Dylan was recognized as one of Teen People’s “20 teens that will change the world," and one of "25 most powerful and influential young people in the world." Dylan has also been recognized by The Most Rev. Dr. Desmond Mpilo Tutu, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the United Nations, as well as by three U.S. Presidents.

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