Greed, anger, foolishness these are the three poisons. The Three Poisons keep us cycling through Samsara, constantly causing us to bring difficulties upon ourselves and others. If we can change how we respond we can break this cycle that constantly and only results in suffering.
When conflicts arise we tend to choose sides. When we choose a side, no matter how well justified the decision may be, the side that is not chosen will want to be recognized, to have their position justified. Choosing sides is the exact cause of difficulties. It is an expression of my preference for one or another. It is a choice that does not describe the entire circumstance. We can reduce the influences of an event to bring it into focus. But when we simplify the circumstances our response will be partial. If our intent is to halt the cascade of pain then we must consider the broadest influence that will necessarily include me.
In a discussion with a minister recently we talked about the Israeli Hamas conflict. We agreed that the consequences of the war will be present for a long time. Knowing that, the minister felt that the time for peaceful resolution was long past. That train, in her words, had left the station. I cannot imagine that should this war end there will not be at least one person whose pain through loss will not hold and pass on to others anger that could express itself once again in violence. The train has indeed left the station, death and violence is churning more, future death and violence.
“With our mind, we make the world. Speak or act with meanness and unhappiness will follow you as surely as a cart follows the ox that pulls it.
“With our mind, we make the world. Speak or act with kindness and happiness will follow you as surely as a shadow follows the person who casts it.
“He insulted me, he beat me: he threw me down and robbed me. Dwell on such thoughts, and your hatred will never cease.
“He insulted me, he beat me: he threw me down and robbed me. Put away such thoughts, and hatred will never arise.
“For in this world hate never yet has dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate. This law is ancient and will last forever.”
This is from the Chapter I of the Dhammapada, “The Pairs”
I may not be able to resolve the difficulties that fill our headlines. I can however, in the small circle of circumstances and conditions that surround me, try to remember empathy and kindness. Perhaps, my behavior might influence the behavior of another and their interactions with others. In choosing to act in this way there is hope that these chaotic times will someday return to something that we can look back on as a time of peace.