LOS ANGELES, USA -- There was no cheering, no chanting and no sign waving. The march organized by Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh brought together 3,000 people to enjoy an unusual state in this city silence.
Activist mom Cindy Sheehan, who garnered national attention this summer with her anti-war vigil outside President Bush's Crawford ranch, was among those who attended the Saturday event at MacArthur Park west of downtown Los Angeles. She and Hanh embraced before the march began, but Hanh was not shy about expressing his view of Sheehan's tactics.
"I don't think shouting angrily at government can help us end the war," he said. "When we are able to change our own thinking, the government will have to change."
Hanh later told the audience: "We don't think shouting in anger can help. If you make people angry and fearful, then you cannot reduce violence and fear.
"When you speak to people, you should speak to them in a language they can understand. By doing that, we can turn our enemies into our friends."
He's right, but I'd also say it's understandable why emotions fly high here: we are, after all, talking about matters of life and death. Putting that energy to good use to stop the killing is what being skillful is about; it takes a long time, and understanding that we haven't walked the full distance in another's shoes.
(HT: Danny Fischer @ The Buddhist Chaplains' Sangha)