Terrorism: Is Forgiveness the Solution?

“We cannot solve this problem only through prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. G-d would say, ‘Solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.’” ~ Dalai Lama

I’ve been irresponsible, setting the wrong example. After these atrocities occur, I type ‘pray’ and send it out into the ether. It sounds disrespectful, doesn’t it? It is.

But—I don’t know what else to do. I pray because it gives me a sense of control.

I pray for the families of the victims.
I pray for the terrorists, for their children, for their awakening.

I pray there won’t be any more violence and then my phone buzzes and there it is, the news once again—another massacre.

So, I pray again, but it seems like it is only getting worse, and it is.

What’s the resolution?
How do we stop it?

Solving terrorism is like trying to undo a knotted chain. It looks unmanageable. Where does it begin and where does it end? It’s unfixable, right?

I’m too optimistic to say yes.

The answer is no. I am one of those links. I have the power to undo my part.

I remember what the Dalai Lama said about peace: he said that peace starts with the individual, then the family, then the community, then the world.

He’s right: prayer is not enough, not to solve this. Prayer is the Band-Aid. It puts temporary protection over the symptom.

So, what’s the cause?

I’m the cause; the pain I’ve caused. The knots of destruction I’ve made in my own life have rippled out into the world.

I can’t go back, but I can loosen the bind by accepting my transgressions—I can ask for forgiveness.

The other day, I read the transcript of an interview Elie Wiesel did in 2006 with On Being’s Krista Tippett. His words have been on repeat in my head:

“But one thing He (G-d) does not forgive: the evil I have done to other fellow human beings. Only they can forgive. If I do something bad to you, I cannot ask G-d to forgive me. You must forgive me.” 

How do we solve this problem?

We start right here, with our link, with our knots and we undo them one by one.

We ask for forgiveness, not from the conductor, but from our fellow orchestrators.

We turn to our right and to our left and we say sorry, and we mean it. We make amends, we unknot the pain and the anguish we’ve caused.

I’ve done things. I’ve hurt many people over the years. I’ve got a lot of unknotting to do and it starts with me, it starts with you: forgiving ourselves for the terror we’ve caused and moving outward from there—to our children, to our spouses and ex-spouses, to our parents, to our siblings, to our friends, to our colleagues and to our community members.

That’s how we will undo it, and in the process, we will link together again, to solve this problem as one.

Today, I beg for forgiveness.
I am sorry for what has happened, because,
I’ve caused this.
I am responsible.
I am accountable and now there’s no excuse.
It’s up to me to fix it.

Join me. ~Rebecca


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