Empathy, forgiveness, and unconditional acceptance defeat terrorism.
Reciprocal anger and hatred would only serve the terrorist’s purpose.
King and his followers turned to non-violent resistance because they understood the clear evidence of history: anger, fear, hatred, and violence do not resolve problems. Instead, they attract more anger, fear, hatred, and violence. The conflict never ceases, and no one wins – ever.
So, they broke the futile cycle of fear and violence, and they defeated terrorism.
When unremitting empathy, compassion, and love are the response, the conversation eventually changes and peace – inner peace and interpersonal peace – is found. First, peace appears in glimpses, snippets, and moments. With persistence, peace takes root and becomes our foundation, our stronghold, and our point-of-view.
The key words are unremitting and persistence. Peace is never achieved and terrorism will never go away. These are not technical issues to be rooted out and solved. Rather, these are adaptive concerns to be wisely managed within an ever-changing landscape presenting a myriad of unique situations that we must face anew every day.
So, how will you manage in the face of terrorism?
Think of your city or town, your neighborhood, or your family. Even in these smaller arenas, we can ask the same questions faced on the international stage: “Is it possible for us to look deep inside our hearts, past our pain, past our anger, and find a place of empathy for those who’ve hurt us…for those who seem to be against us…for those who try to kill us?”
This is a call for empathy at all levels, for the courage to shift the paradigm from violence to compassion. As in any courageous venture, there will be a price to be paid. But, as we’ve seen, a greater price will be paid if we stay on the path of anger, fear, retaliation, and violence.
It’s up to each one of us to embody the practice we desire for our families, our neighborhoods, our cities, and our world. What you practice will be your fate, so what path do you choose: anger or compassion, hatred or empathy, violence or peace?
The only way to a peaceful life is by living peacefully. Azim Khamisa
Here is a reflection by Aleasa Word on turning Islamophobia into informed compassion (read now)