We are not the enemy

Yes! We must not regard each other as enemies, even when our dishonourable behaviours deceive our higher selves and our ethical norms. The real enemy is our insistence to represent ourselves as separate from each other and from nature; as distant from past and future; as disconnected from the Divine Spirit. We fail ourselves when we do not recognise the inherent unity in our physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions, sustained by an intelligent and conscious universal order.  

Like the moon, we all have shadows in our nature; our dark side. Know that the beast in us thrives there, and so wisdom tells us that we must turn ourselves toward the light to reveal the best of ourselves. Do not judge the beast, yet be alert and discerning; be compassionate; understand it; tame it with light. In the universal order, the beast also serves a useful purpose: to remind us to be mindful and so to keep us on the path of illumination, of peace, of unity, of eternal love.

We lose ourselves on that path if we do not listen to compassion crying out from our souls, and know then that the pain we feel is real when bombs rain down on our brothers and sisters somewhere else than here. We are not separate. How can we not realise that the fear we try to block out from our consciousness is exactly the same fear that they are feeling?  How can we not know that our souls cry in despair when others cry in despair?  Listen quietly… look inward… accept your feelings of vulnerability; cultivate your empathy. When we look away, we cannot see that our humanity wanes as others die because of our lack of compassion. The truth is we cannot save ourselves by indifference and inaction. Tyrants evolve in the same dark cruel alleys of humanity. Our ancestors knew it and our children may pay the price.

Dear Brother, dear Sister, promise me now, while the sky is clear and the sun still shines overhead, that you will open your heart to the light and beam it back to the world through the glint in your eyes and the smile on your lips.

Peace is our nature,
if we let us be.
Its path is Love

Andrew Lue-Shue
April 28, 2022

Recommendation, was written in 1965 by the renowned Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, to his students at the School of Youth for Social Service in the midst of the brutal Vietnam War which was ravaging his country and had already claimed lives among many of these students and their families. It illustrates the core of his spiritual teachings on compassion and nonviolent action. 

Credit and thanks
to the Plum Village website and community
for permission to republish the deeply resonant poem
“Recommendation” by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Voici la version française du poème sur leur site.