Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who was one of the world’s most influential Zen masters, spreading messages of mindfulness, compassion and nonviolence has died.
Thich Nhat Hanh began writing and speaking out against the war in Vietnam and in 1964 published a poem called “Condemnation” in a Buddhist weekly. It reads in part:
Whoever is listening, be my witness:“Condemnation” by Thich Nhat Hanh
I cannot accept this war.
I never could I never will.
I must say this a thousand times before I am killed.
I am like the bird who dies for the sake of its mate,
dripping blood from its broken beak and crying out:
“Beware! Turn around and face your real enemies
— ambition, violence hatred and greed.”
His connection with the United States began in the early 1960s, when he studied at Princeton University and later lectured at Cornell and Columbia. He influenced the American peace movement, urging the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to oppose the Vietnam War.
I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with the passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example of the world.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
I was aware of the teachings of both Thich Nhat Hanh and Martin Luther King, Jr, as I struggled with my decision to resist the war in Vietnam in the late 1960’s while a student at the Quaker boarding school, Scattergood Friends School.
I was also influenced by the Quakers in my community who worked for peace. Many of whom were imprisoned for their refusal to participate in war, during the many wars in our history. Who resisted militarism in this country even when we were not at war.
The late Don Laughlin, my friend, mentor, and a Quaker, collected these stories. They are unfortunately relevant today as Russia threatens to invade Ukraine.
This is the link to those stories. Young Quaker Men Facing War and Conscription