COMPASSION AND UNDERSTANDING ARE THE BEST WEAPONS
By 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 hatred. "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
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.