"Strike against Terror"
Thich Nhat Hanh
Terror is in the human heart. We must remove
this terror from the heart. Destroying the human heart, both physically
and psychologically, is what we should avoid. The root of terrorism
should be identified so that it can be removed. The root of terrorism
is misunderstanding, hatred and violence. This root cannot be located
by the military. Bombs and missiles cannot reach it, let alone destroy
it. Only with the practice of calming and looking deeply can our
insight reveal and identify this root. Only with the practice of
deep listening and compassion can it be transformed and removed.
Darkness cannot be dissipated with more darkness.
More darkness will make darkness thicker. Only light can dissipate
darkness. Violence and hatred cannot be removed with violence and
hatred. Rather, this will make violence and hatred grow a thousand
fold. Only understanding and compassion can dissolve violence and
"Strike against terror" is a misleading
expression. What we are striking against is not the real cause or
the root of terror. The object of our strike is still human life.
We are sowing seeds of violence as we strike. Striking in this way
we will only bring about more hatred and violence into the world.
This is exactly what we do not want to do.
Hatred and violence are in the hearts of human
beings. A terrorist is a human being with hatred, violence and misunderstanding
in his or her heart. Acting without understanding, acting out of
hatred, violence and fear, we help sow more terror, bringing terror
to the homes of others and bringing terror back to our own homes.
Whole societies are living constantly in fear with our nerves being
attacked day and night. This is the greatest casualty we may suffer
from as a result of our wrong thinking and action. Such a state
of confusion, fear and anxiety is extremely dangerous. It can bring
about another world war, this time extremely destructive.
We must learn to speak out so that the voice
of the Buddha can be heard in this dangerous and pivotal moment
of history. Those of us who have the light should display the light
and offer it so that the world will not sink into total darkness.
Everyone has the seed of awakening and insight within his or her
heart. Let us help each other touch these seeds in ourselves so
that everyone could have the courage to speak out. We must ensure
that the way we live our daily lives (with or without mindful consumption,
with or without discrimination, with or without participating in
injustice, ...) does not create more terrorism in the world. We
need a collective awakening to stop this course of self-destruction.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Shanghai 19 October, 2001