Listen For Peace
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LISTEN FOR PEACE
A Proposal to Listen - For Peace and Security
By Thich Nhat Hanh
In light of the intensifying conflicts around the planet, and before another
war is declared, we call upon the United States and the world community to
pause. As one humanity, we cannot survive the continuing cycle of violence
in response to violence. There are alternative responses.
We recognize that the well-being and safety of the people within the United
States and the well-being and safety of the rest of the world are
inseparable. In order for harmony and safety to exist among nations in the
world, we must first nourish harmony and safety in our own country. Peace
begins with each one of us. Therefore, we propose a process of listening,
understanding, and reconciliation on both a national and an international
Within the US, we need to listen to our own suffering as seen in problems
such as racial and religious discrimination, and school violence. Listening
with compassion to this suffering would increase national understanding and
trust, and show us paths out of division and despair. Recognizing the
strength and goodwill of the people of our nation, we know we have the
capacity to do this.
We call upon community, humanitarian, and spiritual leaders to come together
in local and national forums for compassionate listening. In these forums,
representatives of diverse communities would be guided by people skilled in
mediation and reconciliation to carefully express their suffering without
blaming or condemning. When possible, these forums would be televised to
In this way, the collective understanding of our nation¹s suffering would
deepen and result in creative new solutions and legislation to improve the
lives of all people in the US. This would help alleviate the despair in this
land that could explode into acts of violence. By embodying strong,
compassionate leadership through self-examination and reform, the US would
inspire other nations.
Internationally, we propose the creation of a peace parliament to listen to
the suffering of people throughout the world, and to offer courageous
alternatives to war. The parliament¹s focus would not be dialogue between
the political representatives of nation-states and would not duplicate the
vital role of the United Nations. It would instead create a safe space for
members of diverse communities to share both their difficulties and visions
for a peaceful world. This would increase understanding of difficult global
situations, and become a source of insight and concrete proposals for
political leaders around the world.
We call on all people to engage in this work on both the national and
international level. We call upon trained mediators from local, national and
international organizations. We ask community, humanitarian, and spiritual
leaders to volunteer, and the media to offer its support, so that these
processes of healing can begin.
We call upon all nations, and the United States in particular, to answer
this immediate need, not by hastening toward increased tragedy, but by
moving in the direction of peace and security. We must act swiftly and with
care to create the lasting peace we all desire..
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