This message seems to fit particularly with our time, as the feeling of togetherness is largely shared across the world. In particular, recent attacks in Paris provoked political leaders’ expressions of grievance and support to the afflicted country. These actions were good signs of people’s understanding of their responsibility to “live in harmony and peace with each other”, as stated by the Dalai Lama.
However, when States decided to react to this violence by the use of strikes, I could not help but thinking of the individual actions we can all take in order to stop this spiral of violence. What should then be our response to violence? And more specifically, what initiatives and actions can we all individually take in order to settle peace? If the use of force is sometimes necessary to protect ourselves, the most important response to violence should be our individual acts of love which will produce peace.
This kind of idea can be seen as highly idealistic at first glimpse. However, when considering this argument seriously, we realize it is a very pragmatic and realistic possibility we all individually have and an alternative which will certainly end the cycle of violence already started.
During the WYAME Emerging Leaders Conference on Sustainable Development held at Saint Joseph University last week, I was struck by a speech made by one of the speakers – Dr. Jocelyne Gerard. She told us that very simple and individual actions can have strong consequences for ourselves and for our society. As I had heard this idea so many times, I did not pay attention to it until today as it suddenly appeared more acute and urgent to me. I realized that the more we will spread love, comprehension and peace to our surrounding, the more we will prevent violence from expanding in our society.
Indeed, terrorism cannot rise from societies in which people really feel compassion and express generosity to their neighbor, whoever they are. This idea can be connected to the Dalai Lama’s view that peace starts at the individual level which by a domino effect impacts on society as a whole. Peace, as he asserts, “starts within each one of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us. When our community is in a state of peace, it can share that peace with neighboring communities, and so on.”
Dalai Lama’s mentor Mahatma Gandhi can also be of inspiration for today’s context of widespread violence and use of arms. Just like Gandhi in his time, we want to uphold Truth and Truth tells us that violence cannot rule over the world. During our Certified Training Program, I learned from his speech, Satyagraha: Not Passive Resistance, that acts of love are the only way to defeat an enemy. In particular, he says: “If someone gives us pain through ignorance, we shall win him through love.”
This message is really powerful. It renounces to retaliate and to use violence against an aggressor but rather teaches us to love in order to win a just cause. Gandhi concludes his speech in an optimistic way sharing that “Truth alone triumphs (…). Truth always wins.” We too need to be optimistic and consider that Truth and Peace will have the last word in this world, not hatred or violence.
Lastly, it seems that Solidarity – which flows from the concept of global family as defined by the Dalai Lama – is the overarching solution to widespread violence which we experience today. If we all stick together by deciding to express love and peace at our individual level, then we will win over our enemies just as Gandhi’s non violent movement won in India.
Written by Briac Cherel, a regional intern at the World Youth Alliance Middle East office.