Silence is Betrayal
"A time comes when silence is betrayal."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Buddha said:
Hatred never ends by hatred in this world;
By love alone does hatred end.
This is an Eternal Law. (Dhammapada, Verse 5)
He explained further:
Victory breeds hatred,
The defeated live in pain.
Happily the peaceful live,
Giving up both victory and defeat.(Dhammapada, Verse 201)
Opposing the war in Iraq is absolutely necessary. Extending the American Empire only invites national destruction. How can any educated person doubt the truth of that? For proof, read The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire or follow in history books as the sun finally sets on the English Hegemony.
The first of the Ten Commandments is "Thou shalt not kill." If we allow others to kill in our names without protest, our hands are covered by the same blood and we are as guilty as if we had pulled the trigger ourselves.
"Thou shalt not kill" also implies that we are not to live at the expense of the misery, suffering and death of others. Inciting further violence in Iraq by occupying their country so that we might gain control over their oil resources will only earn us implacable enemies and deepen the cycle of violence. Disastrous fruits of war will haunt the world for generations, and will come home to us in terrible, unseen ways.
Just as the seeds of World War II were planted in World War I, the seeds of war with Iraq were planted years ago by our political leaders in a self-serving effort to further American interests. It was the American government that supplied chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein. It was the American government that stood by as Hussein used his new toys to kill thousands of his own people.
Now our leaders have changed their minds. They seem locked in a delusion that they are bringing freedom and liberty where they are actually delivering carnage and mayhem. Of the six and a half billion people on this planet, there are only a handful that still share this delusion. Unfortunately, that handful is currently running the mightiest killing machine ever built - the United States Armed Forces.
Not one of this handful of leaders has ever lived with the horrors of war. Not one of them has listened to a buddy crying for Momma and God as his blood and guts spilled on the ground. They sit in sterile rooms in Washington and plan obscenities like "Shock and Awe" which rained death and destruction day and night on innocents. They knew when they were planning that: 1.) their justifications were built on lies; and, 2.) the Iraqi leaders whom they were supposedly after were in bombproof shelters.
The Bible says "We reap what we sow." The Buddhist believe the same thing but state it a bit differently. They say our actions co-create each other’s reality, that ourselves and others external to us are never completely separate. So how we conduct ourselves in opposition to war makes a great difference to the world. Because we co-create reality in conjunction with everybody else - including Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield, we who are aware that we reap what we sow must walk a path of peace.
I know that many times I forget that we are all in this together; together we have created the reality of today's Iraq and Darfur. It is up to us, right here, right now, to help our leaders and our opponents see this.
Yes, I know. It is easier to turn away. We all get angry and at times we are all afraid. We all have our own demons. But if we indulge this anger and fear, we only create more anger and fear. We will reap what we sow. We will create more anger and fear in an endless cycle of reactive violence.
Despite their torturing and their killing and their scheming, Bush, bin Laden, Cheney, Hussein, Sharon, - to paraphrase, "If you cut them, do they not bleed? If you prick them, do they not feel pain?"
This then is our challenge: We must resist their actions and this war without placing them outside the circle of humankind. We must try to be more like Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, and King every day. And, it wouldn't hurt if everyday we offered a little prayer, that no matter how far-fetched it seems, that our leaders might forsake war and take up the cause of peace.