In the wake of another act of violence in London, late Saturday night, and as a response to all acts of violence throughout the world, I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing some deep words of wisdom (2001) by one of the greatest peacemakers of our time, Thich Nhat Hanh.
Such an act of violence is a desperate call for attention and for help. We have to look deeply and find out why such violence occurs. Why is there so much hatred? What lies under all this violence? Why do some hate so much that they would sacrifice their own lives and bring about so much suffering to other people? Why would these, mostly, young people, full of vitality and strength, have chosen to lose their lives, to commit such violence? This is what we have to understand.
One reason for acts of violence such as these is the lack of deep listening within our relationships as a global society. We do not use deep listening to understand the suffering and the real needs of people in other nations. Perpetrators and the (families of) victims of violence need to talk about their suffering, fears, and despair in a public forum in which all the world can hear without judging or condemning, in order to understand the experience of both sides. This would prepare the ground of understanding for peace talks to occur.
We need to calm our anger, look deeply at the roots of our violence, listen deeply, and understand the suffering of everyone involved in acts of hatred and violence. It is a lack of this kind of communication that hinders our ability to resolve our difficulties peacefully.
We are all brothers and sisters and need to learn and practice the arts of deep listening and loving speech. We need to receive training on how to listen and speak to each other in such a way that greater understanding and peace are made possible between us as individuals and as nations. We need to refrain from using words of blame, hatred, and condemnation. We need to foster an atmosphere of trust and respect. When we have listened and looked deeply, we may begin to develop the energy of brotherhood and sisterhood between all nations, which is the deepest spiritual heritage of all religious and cultural traditions. In this way, the peace and understanding within the whole world is increased day by day.
In situations of great loss and grief, I had to find my calm in order to restore my lucidity and my heart of understanding and compassion. If we respond to cruelty with cruelty and hatred with hatred, then injustice and suffering will only increase. There is so much misunderstanding and lack of the kind of communication that is necessary to resolve our difficulties peacefully.
The “right action” is the action that results in the fires of hatred and violence being extinguished.
The Love of the World goes out to those who lost their lives last night, and to all lives lost to such violence. And, the Heart of the World comforts all those who are left bereaved or injured in the wake of such violence.