have often wondered why some of us who claim to be activists for peace stay on for so long in the toxic peace-destroying anger zone. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with getting angry; but staying angry – that is something else.
The energy from anger, however ‘righteous’, is not nourishing or energizing for peace work. It makes us take stands ‘against’ instead of ‘for’. At times it may be a good starting point – anger at injustice, war-mongering, and misuse of power – if it guides us to work for peace. But it does become hard to disengage, to let go of all that when we need to – and sadly, chronically angry peacemakers only raise the energy for a peace-less world.
Who better than Thich Nhat Hanh can teach in his customary simple and clear yet deeply profound way, the importance of being at peace with ourselves in order to make peace in the world?
In ‘Being Peace’, he uses the example of a small boat crossing the Gulf of Siam. “In Vietnam, there are many people, called boat people, who leave the country in small boats. Often the boats are caught in rough seas or storms, the people may panic, and boats can sink.
But if even one person aboard can remain calm, lucid, knowing what to do and what not to do, he or she can help the boat survive. His or her expression -face, voice -communicates clarity and calmness, and people have trust in that person. They will listen to what he or she says. One such person can save the lives of many.
Our world is something like a small boat. Compared with the cosmos, our planet is a very small boat. We are about to panic because our situation is no better than the situation of the small boat in the sea. You know that we have more than 50,000 nuclear weapons. Humankind has become a very dangerous species. We need people who can sit still and be able to smile, who can walk peacefully. We need people like that in order to save us. Mahayana Buddhism says that you are that person, that each of you is that person.”