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[casi] A deeply spiritual perspective

Satish Kumar has been able to express in very few words exactly how I feel
on the issues of terrorism and Iraq. Perhaps his words can be used to
influence the behaviour of our political leaders. Michael Wolff

Thought for the Day, 23 November 2002 - BBC Radio 4
Satish Kumar

President Bush speaking in Prague this week has reiterated his view that we
are engaged in a “new war”. It is a war against terrorism. Our Prime
Minister Tony Blair agrees with him. Some time back Mr Blair used to say,
“ that we must be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime”. In the
wake of terrorist attacks in New York, New Delhi, Moscow, Bali and
continuous events in Israel it is time for us to think how to be tough on
the causes of terrorism.

If we look at the history it is clear that terrorism cannot be defeated by
military means alone. Although we may never be able to abolish terrorism
altogether, in order to keep it in check we need to apply political and
philosophical means as vigorously as military ones.

>From the Buddhist perspective the deepest cause of any conflict is rooted in
the idea of dualism: the notion of “us” versus ”them”; “good” verses “evil”.
Seeing things in separate boxes. But as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian
novelist said “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of
every human being”

Once the world is divided into “the self and the other” we are forced to act
in self interest and self defence. We create artificial concepts like
“National Interest”. The British national interest then clashes with Iraqi
national interest and Iraqi national interest conflicts with American
national interest. All wars and disputes stem from this dualistic conviction
that there is always a divergence of interests among nations, races and
religions. Be it Israelis and Palestinians, Russians and Chechens, Indians
and Pakistanis, Americans and Iraqis.

The present day politics is dominated by the idea that the pursuit of self
interest is a natural force of progress. But if every person and every
nation is ruled by self interest then there can be no end to terrorism.
Therefore, it is a security imperative to move from the idea of self
interest to the idea of common interest.

If we are serious about dealing with the causes of terrorism then a
fundamental shift is needed; a shift from division to dialogue where there
is no “us and them” instead there is just “us and us”.

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