Wisdom and Compassion Need to Become Action

by Andreas Toupadakis

October 15, 2001

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After the 9/11 events, many people suddenly became fervent authors and speakers about what other people should do. Politicians, militants, priests, peace activists, scientists, security experts, ordinary humans, they are all trying to make a statement for peace. I have been doing the same thing as I type this article. They are sending and forwarding e-mail messages back and forth, circulating petitions, writing articles, giving lectures, going to demonstrations, and finally going back home feeling good about the efforts they have given for world peace.

Statements of advice vary, 'Enhance security measures,' 'The perpetrators of these heinous crimes must be brought to justice.' But instead of searching to find the terrorists, why don't we search for justice? Why don't we search to find the starving millions and feed them?

Even though everyone's efforts are sincere to the measure of each one's capacity for compassion towards others, they simply remain empty words in the air.

When we say that we feel 'profound sorrow and compassion for all those who died' we imply that we know death is something to be avoided because it is worse than life. We fail to reflect for a minute, like the seers of the past, to realize what actually life is. Those who try to save their lives in the long run will lose all civil freedoms, and soon after they will lose their lives, too.

Nothing happens until our words turn into actions. The difficulty that our generation has is that when it comes to direct action, we stall. There is no solution to terrorism but one, no matter how much money the citizens of the world will invest to stop it. It will simply increase. Why? It is because terrorism is the result of the increasing gap between the rich and the poor. Humans with great offices and power in this world will tell you that the cause of terrorism is something else. Do not believe them. They are trying to protect their power, which has been accumulated at the expense of the starving millions of the world.

Personal responsibility is the only solution to stop terrorism and the lack of personal responsibility is the beginning of terrorism.

As long as people around the world are starving by the millions and other people around the world are living in a world of plenty, terrorism cannot be stopped. Let the people of this world with their credit, stocks, saving accounts, and retirement plans give a piece of bread to their starving brothers and sisters around the world and see what will happen. If they want to have peace and have a future, let them nonviolently force their governments to use all the immeasurable resources they use for bombs and spying on one another to give a clean cup of water to those who have none.

If you want to make a difference in our world and therefore to your own life, then you start with yourself. And what do you do? You renounce the securities of this world and you give them to those who have less than yourselves. Gandhi said 'You become the change you want to see in the world.' If any one of those who want to see a better world is sincere let him/her start with the self.

If any kind of leader of this world desires to offer leadership for a better world let him/her renounce all material possessions like Gandhi did and follow his example. If citizens desire to see a future for their children let them follow the example of Gandhi's followers and the early Christians.

The leaders of this world are ready to stain the whole world with innocent blood again. Military force will intensify the hatred toward the countries using it and terrorism will continue to be a threat to everyone. We have become again the evil we deplore. We already have ignored the fact that biological, chemical or nuclear terrorism would be thousands of times worse. If the people of the world stay in the phase of just talking without using nonviolent civil resistance and direct action to change the policies of their governments about war and national security, we will soon see the global catastrophe that no one would like to see or can even imagine. If we choose to stay simply talkers, that day is not very far from us.


       Andreas Toupadakis, Ph.D. 1990, University of Michigan, has done research as a chemist in industry, academia and two US Government laboratories. In January 2000, Dr. Toupadakis resigned from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in protest against the further development of nuclear weapons. Since then he has been lecturing on peace and environmental issues at many universities and colleges, including Tufts University, MIT, the University of Notre Dame, San Francisco State University, Humboldt State University and Waseda University in Tokyo.

       Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Peter Phillips 2001. All rights reserved.

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Published October 15, 2001
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