A Proposal to Listen – For Peace and Security

Offered by Listen For Peace, A Grassroots Organization Inspired by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh's Teachings on Compassionate Listening

The Proposal

In light of the intensifying conflicts around the planet, and before another war is declared, we call upon the United States and the world community to pause. As one humanity, we cannot survive the continuing cycle of violence in response to violence. There are alternative responses. We recognize that the wellbeing and safety of the people within the United States and the wellbeing and safety of the rest of the world are inseparable. In order for harmony and safety to exist among nations in the world, we must first nourish harmony and safety in our own country. Peace begins with each one of us.  Therefore, we propose a process of listening, understanding, and reconciliation on both a national and an international level.

Within the U.S., we need to listen to our own suffering as seen in problems such as racial and religious discrimination, and school violence. Listening with compassion to this suffering would increase national understanding and trust, and show us paths out of division and despair. Recognizing the strength and goodwill of the people of our nation, we know we have the capacity to do this. We call upon community, humanitarian, and spiritual leaders to come together in local and national forums for compassionate listening. In these forums, representatives of diverse communities would be guided by people skilled in mediation and reconciliation to carefully express their suffering without blaming or condemning. When possible, these forums would be televised to increase participation. In this way, the collective understanding of our nation's suffering would deepen and result in creative new solutions and legislation to improve the lives of all people in the U.S. This would help alleviate the despair in this land that could explode into acts of violence. By embodying strong, compassionate leadership through self-examination and reform, the U.S. would inspire other nations.

Internationally, we propose the creation of a Peace Parliament to listen to the suffering of people throughout the world, and to offer courageous alternatives to war. The parliament's focus would not be dialogue between the political representatives of nation-states and would not duplicate the vital role of the United Nations. It would instead create a safe space for members of diverse communities to share both their difficulties and visions for a peaceful world. This would increase understanding of difficult global situations, and become a source of insight and concrete proposals for political leaders around the world. We call on all people to engage in this work on both the national and international level. We call upon trained mediators from local, national, and international organizations. We ask community, humanitarian, and spiritual leaders to volunteer, and the media to offer its support, so that these processes of healing can begin.

We call upon all nations, and the United States in particular, to answer this immediate need, not by hastening toward increased tragedy, but by moving in the direction of peace and security. We must act swiftly and with care to create the lasting peace we all desire.

Responding to Suffering:

Dear Friends,

In response to Thich Nhat Hanh's talks on compassionate listening at the Stonehill College Retreat in Massachusetts, U.S.A. in August 2002, a group got together and developed a task force for taking action in their communities and relating to our political leaders.  Deeply concerned with the escalation of violence in our own country and in the world, this group of people felt inspired to do something to bring relief.  Together with the input of Thich Nhat Hanh and monastic and lay members of the Order of lnterbeing, "A Proposal to Listen For Peace and Security'' was drafted and a grassroots organization, "Listen For Peace" was formed.

You are requested to copy "A Proposal to Listen For Peace and Security" and to collect the signatures of family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues and send them in. Feel free to distribute copies of the proposal for others to do the same. You may like to bring the proposal to your town, city, and state representatives to share this important inspiration.

Very warm regards from, Maple Forest Monastery and Green Mountain Dharma Center, Vermont

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