Saturday, January 25, 2020

How to Oppose War and Other Forms of Violence--to Not Violate

Peaceful Becoming

from Ahimsa: The Path of Harmlessness by Thich Nhat Hanh

[to not violate—literally means “non-harming” or “harmlessness.”

“...first of all we have to practice it within ourselves.

“In each of us, there is a certain amount of violence and a certain amount of nonviolence...Even if we take pride in being vegetarian...we cannot be completely nonviolent, but by being vegetarian, we are going in the direction of non­violence...
“Anyone can practice some nonviolence, even soldiers. Some army generals, for example, conduct their operations in ways that avoid killing innocent people; this is a kind of nonviolence.

“To help soldiers move in the nonviolent direction, we have to be in touch with them. If we divide reality into two camps-the violent and the nonviolent-and stand in one camp while attacking the other, the world will never have peace. We will always blame and condemn those we feel are responsible for wars and social injustice, without recognizing the degree of violence in ourselves.

“We must work on ourselves and also work with those we condemn if we want to have a real impact.

“It never helps to draw a line and dismiss some people as enemies, even those who act violently. We have to approach them with love in our hearts and do our best to help them move in a direction of nonviolence. If we work for peace out of anger, we will never succeed. Peace is not an end. It can never come about through non-peaceful means.

“When we protest against a war, we may assume that we are a peaceful person, a representative of peace, but this might not be the case...
With this insight, we can see clearly and help our government see clearly. Then we can go to a demonstration and say, "This war is unjust, destructive, and not worthy of our great nation." This is far more effective than angrily condemning others. Anger al­ways accelerates the damage.
“You may think that the way to change the world is to elect a new President, but a government is only a reflection of society, which is a reflection of our own consciousness. To create fundamental change, we, the members of society, have to transform ourselves. If we want real peace, we have to demonstrate our love and understanding so that those responsible for making decisions can learn from us.

“When we see social injustice, if we practice non-action, we may cause harm. When people need us to say or do something, if we don't, we can kill by our inaction or our silence.

“To practice ahimsa, we need gentleness, loving kindness, compassion, joy...[to ourselves] and other people.

“Real peace must be based on insight and understanding, and for this we must practice deep reflection-looking deeply into each act and each thought of our daily lives.

“To prevent war, to prevent the next crisis, we must begin right now. When a war or a crisis has begun, it is already too late.

From Love in Action by Thich Nhat Hanh
Read the whole book of powerful insightful articles.
Parallas Press

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