Nonviolence is the only solution to the war on terrorism. Many of those who believed that terrorism required a violent response have admitted the strategy’s futility by proclaiming that the so-called “war on terror” cannot be won and is therefore endless. The Dalai Lama’s vision is clear. We must first conquer terror within ourselves. We must not give in to it and become fearful and desperate. We will lose our effective judgment if we become terrified and merely lash out and incite more terror in others who will lash back. This was the message of Buddha, Mahavira of the Jains, Confucius, Mencius, the ancient Hebrews, Jesus, Krishna, and Muhammad. Once people’s fear and terror subsides, both from the courage of not letting terror control one’s reactions and from practicing—and observing others practice— nonviolence, then there is time and calm for dialogue about the causes of conflict and the methods to overcome it peacefully.

Dialogue is the only sensible and intelligent way of resolving differences and clashes of interests, whether between individuals or nations. The promotion of a culture of dialogue and nonviolence for the future of mankind is a compelling task of the international community. It is not enough for governments to endorse the principle of nonviolence without any appropriate action to support and promote it. If nonviolence is to prevail, nonviolent movements must be made effective and successful. Some consider the twentieth century a century of war and bloodshed. I believe the challenge before us is to make the new century one of dialogue and nonviolence.

This is truly remarkable to hear proclaimed in such a forum during a time when the drums of war are being loudly beaten in some of the leading industrial countries, especially America.

Furthermore, in dealing with conflicts, too often we lack proper judgment and courage. We fail to pay adequate attention to situations of potential conflict when they are at an early stage of development. Once all the circumstances have progressed to a state where emotions of the people or communities involved in disputes have become fully charged, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prevent a dangerous situation from exploding. We see this tragic situation repeated time and again. So we must learn to detect early signs of conflict and have the courage to address the problem before it reaches its boiling point.

This should be the charter principle causing all national governments and the UN to endow large-scale, mainstream peace institutions, universities, think tanks, and schools that are committed to gradually building up the sciences, technologies, arts, institutions, and industries of peace to match and balance the widespread complex of institutions devoted to war.

I remain convinced that most human conflicts can be solved through genuine dialogue conducted with a spirit of openness and reconciliation.


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