What's written below continues to be true and applicable today:
A Message From the Dalai Lama
His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the Commemoration of the 1st Anniversary
of September 11, 2001. Reprinted from the website of The Government of
Tibet in Exile.
The 11th September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre 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
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 practise restraint. In the
case of a conflict it is important to take necessary preventive 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. Preventive
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
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 way
to resolve our difficulties.
The anniversary of the tragic events of September 11th 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 preventive
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.