The news on TV seems so hateful and angry, and I can understand why. And I appreciate Meg's post as an attempt to cut through the angry rhetoric and understand why people are motivated to take these evil actions. When the world around me seems ready to explode, I read my favorite authors to put things in perspective. Here's a section from Thich Nhat Hanh's book Touching Peace about the Gulf War and war in general:
When President Bush gave the order to attack Iraq, many of us suffered at the same time. I was at Plum Village giving a lecture on the Avatamsaka Sutra, and in the middle of a sentence, I suddenly said, "I don't think I will go to to America this spring, I really don't want to go there now." We all paused for a long moment to breathe, and then I resumed the lecture. That afternoon during a tea meditation, a number of students from North America told me that because I felt that way, I should go. They reminded me that friends in the U.S. had been working hard to organize retreats there, and they helped me see that many Americans also suffered when the President gave the order to attack. So I decided to go in order to support them and share their suffering.He goes on to talk about his own experience in Viet Nam and later adds:
I understood that President Bush is a bodhisattva trying in his way to serve his people. Early in the conflict he instituted an embargo, but because we did not encourage him enough, he became impatient and suddenly war was inevitable. When he ordered the ground attack and said, "God bless the United States of America," I knew that bodhisattva needed our help. Any leader needs our help and our understanding. We must use intelligent and loving language so he will listen to us. When we get angry, we cannot do that. I listened to my American friends in Plum Village quietly and serenely, and I accepted their advice to go to the United States.
If we get angry, countless obstacles will be set up, blocking our way. So, without anger, we have to find a way to tell the president that God cannot bless one country against another. He must learn to pray better than that. But we should not think that simply by electing another president, the situation will be transformed. If we want a better government, we have to begin by changing our own consciousness and our own way of life. Our society is ruled by greed and violence. The way to help our country and our president is by transforming the greed and violence in ourselves and working to transform society.
Eighty perecent of the American people supported the Gulf War and called it clean and moral. They do not understand the true nature of war. Anyone who has seen a war would not say that...We who have touched war have a duty to bring the truth about war to those who have not had a direct experience of it. We are the light at the tip of the candle. It is very hot, but it has the power of shining and illuminating.I'm very worried that soon we'll all be touching war. The cycle will continue if people don't voice their oppositions; and many more lives will be tragically lost.