– Martin Luther King
All of us can play an important part in the conquest of violence. We can do this by throwing our full weight behind peaceful, effective programs for eliminating the situations from which violence arises. But just as importantly, we need to do everything we can to remove every trace of hostility in ourselves.
The violence that is flaring up on our streets and in many corners of the world is the inevitable expression of the hostility in our hearts. Hostility is like an infectious disease. Whenever we indulge in a violent act or even in hostile words, we are passing this disease on to those around us. When we quarrel at home, it is not just a domestic problem; we are contributing to turmoil everywhere.
A teacher of meditation in ancient India, Patanjali, wrote that in the presence of a man or woman in whom all hostility has died, others cannot be hostile. In the presence of a man or woman in whom all fear has died, no one can be afraid. This is the power released in true nonviolence, as we can see in the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Because all hostility had died in his heart, he was a profound force for peace.
It's easy to find contempt, hostility, and hatred almost everywhere, including here in cyberspace. They are like a raging pandemic that infects our hearts and minds and whose outward symptoms of violence destroy our world, our quality of life, and our lives themselves. It isn't nearly as easy to find compassion, lovingkindness, respect, and resulting peace within and without. But if there is an ultimate antidote to hatred and violence in the world, it is surely not more hatred and more violence--which act, at best, as temporary palliatives and, at worst, destroy everyone affected--it is King's "method of love" that first sweeps through, fills, and vitalizes our individual hearts and minds and then innoculates those with whom we come in contact at home, in our communities, at work, and on the Internet.As Thich Nhat Hanh says, if we want peace, we must BE peace.