The power of truth never declines. Force and violence may be effective in the short term, but in the long run it’s truth that prevails. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
To me, this quote is about the futility of force and violence. Those are never durable or enduring solutions. They may be a temporary respite at best.
Force and violence simply foment anger and resentment, which will only lead to more use of force and violence from those who lost. And so it will continue, back and forth, until one is annihilated, or Truth prevails.
But what is Truth? That is a question to which we may never know the answer, at least not in a general sense. But for each situation, there are truths, and they can break the cycle of violence, if everyone understands.
And it starts with realizing we are all human, all the same. It isn’t us against them, it’s us against us. With just that Truth, our world view changes, for we are all family.
Why is breaking the cycle of violence important?
Well, let’s consider what will happen if we do not. A fight breaks out. The loser vows revenge, trains and comes back. The loser of that fight vows revenge, trains and comes back. This will continue until one kills the other, or they both realize the harm they are doing to themselves.
Now imagine that instead of two people, it is two nations or large groups of people. When does it end? Sometimes peace is declared when both sides are too tired to continue at that moment, but are they truly done fighting? Not until they have seen and acknowledged the power of the truth.
Whether it is one race against another, one people against another, one religion against another, or any other way of dividing humanity against itself, violence will be answered by violence. Force will continue to be answered by force. Hate will continue to be answered by more hate.
Only by breaking this cycle can we begin to travel on the path of peace, and begin to heal all the hurt that force and violence has caused to the human race. And the only thing that can break the cycle is the Truth. Whether that is the realization that we are all brothers, or the simple truth of love, only the truth will break it.
Where can I apply this in my life?
You probably won’t be able to stop whole peoples, much less whole nations, from squabbling, fighting, or engaging in wars. However, you can stop one person, and that person is you. Where in your life do you tend to lean towards, or even lean on, force or violence? To me, that might be a good place to start.
In my youth, I used to be fairly volatile. I would hold it in and hold it in until I exploded. Since then, I have worked both to increase my capacity to hold it in, as well as to decrease my need to do so. I learned to relax when I felt tense, and to ignore the babbling of idiots and mean people.
How would your life be different if you refused to allow someone to annoy you to the point of anger or violence? What if you simply refused to fall for their bait, and simply went on with your life? It will be difficult at first, because you’ll still be mad, you just won’t be letting them see it.
But that is only a first step. What if you understood the truth? The truth is that all they say are words. You can choose to do or not do whatever you wish with them. What if they call you a nasty name? What if you didn’t care? Are you what they say you are, or are you what you say you are?
It really doesn’t matter what they say, does it? In truth, it does not. What matters is how you react to it, and that is a choice you make. They don’t make that choice. You can take their words or you can leave them. Let truth decide which to do. If their words are not true, what is there to do?
But if their words hurt because they are true, then perhaps you should consider changing what you do and how you act. If you act like a jerk, and you hit someone because they called you a jerk, aren’t you proving them right? And what if they vow to get stronger and come back looking for you?
By learning to consider the words they use, and ignoring those which are without truth, you will find it much easier to keep your cool when people are being mean to you. But that is your choice, to use their words as an excuse for using force and violence, or to ignore them and live in peace and calm.
Truth is there for you to see, but you have to look for it. There are plenty of mentors for non-violence. The author of the quote is one. Gandhi is another. MLK is yet another, with theKingCenter.com and others doing what they can to help us understand. Take a moment to read, and perhaps, understand.