Ann and myself have been thinking a lot about the recent Brussels incidents over the last few days. It is very sad for everyone, especially the families of those killed and injured. It is extremely sad that a very small number of disturbed human beings have caused such suffering to many other innocent humans. We have been thinking about the friends and families of the victims. How do you to come to terms with such an event. We have been thinking about how other people usually react to this type of event, especially politicians and the mainstream media. Perhaps we all need to think about what our individual human responses could be to an event like this. Anger? Fear? Something else?
The usual reaction from most people is a mixture of anger and fear. This is a normal reaction because we feel threatened. The level of threat we feel is magnified by the reaction of others. Many politicians in France and the U.K. have said we must increase our security and step up the intensity of the ‘War on Terror’. We need to put more resources into fighting the people who are to blame. They are at the root of this. Drop more bombs on terrorists and potential terrorists in other countries. There will of course be some unfortunate ‘collateral damage’ of more innocent humans. This is an inevitable consequence of a war that we need to win at any cost. We need to put more resources into protecting our borders and we need more surveillance of everyone. We must be vigilant and spy on each other. Extreme events seem to be producing an extreme response. Is there another response which may reduce this threat? I feel that although I don’t have an answer, a very wise monk living in France may have an idea.
One of the benefits of our wonderful life here in France is the time we have to spend thinking and reading. I have read a couple of very good books by Thich Nhat Hanh.
He is a Vietnamese monk who also lives in France not far from us. He influenced the work of Martin Luther King and campaigned in the USA against the Vietnam war. During the campaign the monk met an angry American who berated him for coming to the USA and told him he should “get back to Vietnam where the real problem was”. After a very deep breath and thought the monk said something like “to help a plant to grow you need to water the roots, not the leaves.”
I think we need to look for the “real roots” of these very big problems we have in the world. I think that some of the roots may be in the complex political and economic systems we have created and are desperately trying to protect. Within these complex systems, countries, governments, corporations and individuals compete for resources. There are sometimes unintended feedback loops in this competition for resources which can often make bad situations worse. So I think to start with we should try to feel LOVE for the friends and families of all the victims in all affected countries. If we can begin to feel that connection to them as individuals, just like us, rather than ‘others’ perhaps we can begin to change the systems which I believe are contributing to the problem.
You can find out more about this amazing monk here