Peace Begins with You, Do Not Let it End There

Mr. President,

Since the attacks of 9/11, even those of us who place their ultimate focus on the invisible world, the world of faith and of the sacred, are feeling the pain of this world all too keenly. Wherever we go after death, this is where we live now, this world of suffering and people who want to cause it.

No responsible and compassionate person condones the actions of terrorists who bring death from the sky to our country or to any other. Yet death from the sky is a common event in many countries around the world, and we as Americans must acknowledge that we ourselves have brought death from the sky to many of those lands—indeed, we may soon do it again. Since 9/11 we’ve been burning with the fever of a worldwide disease from which we have previously been immune. It may be we cannot now choose to live without a touch of terror; this is now our lot, just as it is for the rest of the world. But if we cannot live with terror, we truly cannot live without freedom.

Our true question is: Do we choose to live in a free country and a free world? The choice for war is a choice against freedom for ourselves and for other nations. Choosing retribution or preemptive attack, we will enter a cycle of revenge that will outlive us. On this bitter path we will first lose our peace of mind, then our safety, then our tolerance of others, and finally our freedom, for the freedom to differ is the very basis of our nation.

Our choice will recreate our country and the world that sustains it. The plague of violence we have seen for so long in the Middle East is now ours to accept or reject. We must reject it. We have borne a blast of terror and may bear others, but neither the terrorists nor dictators will truly achieve their goals unless they draw us into foul action. The devil always gives us a choice, doesn’t he? Well, this is our choice—your choice—Mr. President.

From the moment we enter a violent war on terror, we have already lost it. We who treasure the American value of freedom beg you, Mr. President, not to make this terrible error. What will be the legacy of George W. Bush and our legacy to the world? Let it be turning from the wide and easy road of violence and taking the straight and narrow path of peace. Let it be following, as our greatest Republican president did, “the better angels of our nature.” The powers of peace can be overwhelming, making allies across continents and—most importantly—across religions. Mr. President, you have the chance to command these powers to defeat a foe that the powers of war can never overcome. The united nations and peoples of the world want you to stand strong, but, for God’s sake and humanity’s, stand for peace.

We have recently been working on applying Buddhist wisdom to our lives at work. Your work, Mr. President, is now the central work of the world. We offer you the Buddha’s words:

“He insulted me, he beat me, robbed me!”
Think this way and hatred never ends.
“He insulted me, he beat me, robbed me!”
Give this up and in you hatred ends.
Not by hate is hate defeated; hate is
Quenched by love. This is eternal law.
Dhammapada 3-5

Walk the path of wisdom and compassion with the Buddha, the path of non-violence with Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., the path of love with Jesus. Then let the world follow you. We will.