Give Peace a Chance

‘We live in a time when we have a very sophisticated means for communication, but communication has become very difficult between individuals and groups of people. A father cannot talk to a son, mother cannot talk to a daughter, and maybe [a] husband cannot talk to a wife. And Israelis cannot talk to Palestinians, and Hindus cannot talk to Muslims.
‘And that is why we have war, [why] we have violence. That is why restoring communication is the basic work for peace, and our political and our spiritual leaders have to focus all their energy on this matter.’
These are words of wisdom from Buddhist Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who began working for peace during the Vietnam war and hasn’t stopped since.
When hearts are closed, communication is impossible. When we think we know what the other person feels or believes without actually checking, communication is limited, and the seeds of discord can grow. When we are so full of our own agenda, there’s no room for another perspective.
Do you want to make peace? Are you ready? Do you really want to know what that son or daughter or parent or carer or neighbour thinks and feels and wants? Do you need to win or prove a point? Can you put aside your stuff long enough to hear theirs? What do you fear losing if you try?
Example: you are a parent/carer and communication with your teenager is strained. Neither one seems to ‘get’ the other. Disagreements abound. You don’t know what s/he thinks and they won’t tell you. Or what they do tell you scares or angers or bewilders you.
Is it a stalemate, or a downward spiral? What’s the way out?
The answer is… on next week’s show.
More from Thich Nhat Hanh can be found at
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Martin Graham
School Counsellor