Wednesday, May 4, 2011

HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA’S 2001

HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA’S MESSAGE ON THE
COMMEMORATION OF THE 1ST ANNIVERSARY OF SEPTEMBER 11,
2001

The September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon were deeply
shocking and very sad. I regard such terrible
destructive actions as acts of hatred, for violence is
the result of destructive emotions. Events of this
kind make clear that if we allow our human
intelligence to be guided and controlled by negative
emotions like hatred, the consequences are disastrous.

How to respond to such an attack is a very difficult
question to answer. Of course, those who are dealing
with the problem may know better, but I feel that
careful consideration is necessary and that it is
appropriate to respond to an act of violence by
employing the principles of non-violence. This is of
great importance. The attacks on the United States
were shocking, but retaliation that involves the use
of further violence may not be the best solution in
the long run.

We must continue to develop a wider perspective, to
think rationally and work to avert future disasters in
a non-violent way. These issues concern the whole of
humanity, not just one country. We should explore the
use of non-violence as a long-term measure to control
terrorism of every kind. We need a well-thought-out,
coordinated long-term strategy. I believe there will
always be conflicts and clash of ideas as long as
human beings exist. This is natural. Therefore, we
need an active method or approach to overcome such
contradictions.

In today's reality the only way of resolving
differences is through dialogue and compromise,
through human understanding and humility. We need to
appreciate that genuine peace comes about through
mutual understanding, respect and trust. Problems
within human society should be solved in a
humanitarian way, for which non-violence provides the
proper approach.

Terrorism cannot be overcome by the use of force
because it does not address the complex underlying
problems. In fact the use of force may not only fail
to solve the problems, it may exacerbate them and
frequently leaves destruction and suffering in its
wake. Likewise, acts of terrorism, especially
involving violence, only make matters worse. We must
condemn terrorism not only because it involves
violence but also because innocent people fall victims
to senseless acts of terrorism such as what the world
witnessed on September 11th.

Human conflicts do not arise out of the blue. They
occur as a result of causes and conditions, many of
which are within the protagonists' control. This is
where leadership is important. It is the
responsibility of leaders to decide when to act and
when to practice restraint. In the case of a conflict
it is important to take necessary preventative
measures before the situation gets out of hand. Once
the causes and conditions that lead to violent clashes
have fully ripened and erupted, it is very difficult
to control them and restore peace. Violence
undoubtedly breeds more violence. If we instinctively
retaliate when violence is done to us, what can we
expect other than that our opponent to also feel
justified retaliating. This is how violence escalates.
Preventative measures and restraint must be observed
at an earlier stage. Clearly leaders need to be alert,
far-sighted and decisive.

In today's world expectations of war have changed. It
is no longer realistic to expect that our enemy will
be completely destroyed, or that victory will be total
for us. Or, for that matter, can an enemy be
considered absolute. We have seen many times that
today's enemies are often tomorrow's allies, a clear
indication that things are relative and very
inter-related and inter-dependent. Our survival, our
success, our progress, are very much related to
others' well being. Therefore, we as well as our
enemies are still very much interdependent. Whether we
regard them as economic, ideological, or political
enemies makes no difference to this. Their destruction
has a destructive effect upon us. Thus, the very
concept of war, which is not only a painful
experience, but also contains the seeds of
self-destruction, is no longer relevant.

Similarly, as the global economy evolves, every nation
becomes to a greater or lesser extent dependent on
every other nation. The modern economy, like the
environment, knows no boundaries. Even those countries
openly hostile to one another must cooperate in their
use of the world's resources. Often, for example, they
will be dependent on the same rivers or other natural
resources. And the more interdependent our economic
relationships, the more interdependent must our
political relationships become.

What we need today is education among individuals and
nations, from small children up to political leaders
to inculcate the idea that violence is
counterproductive, that it is not a realistic way to
solve problems, and that dialogue and understanding
are the only realistic ways to resolve our
difficulties.

The anniversary of the tragic events of September 11,
2001 provides us with a very good opportunity. There
is a worldwide will to oppose terrorism. We can use
this consensus to implement long-term preventative
measures. This will ultimately be much more effective
than taking dramatic and violent steps based on anger
and other destructive emotions. The temptation to
respond with violence is understandable but a more
cautious approach will be more fruitful.

The Dalai Lama

Dharamsala, India