the Dalai Lama's Message on the Commemoration of the 1st Anniversary
of September 11, 2001
11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center 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
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 proper approach.
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
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 practice restraint.
In the case of a conflict it is important to take necessary
preventative 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. Preventative measures
and restraint must be observed at an earlier stage. Clearly
leaders need to be alert, far-sighted and decisive.
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
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.
as the global economy evolves, ever 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 become.
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
ways to resolve our difficulties.
of the tragic events of September 11, 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 preventative
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.
The Dalai Lama