Speak the Truth and Stand Up for Justice
The opposite of aggression is not passivity, it is true strength. When we have lost a sense of our innate nobility,we mistakenly believe in our fear and weakness. We try to be strong through hate and aggression. When we release aggression, we discover true strength, a natural fearlessness, the courage to face our griefs and fears, and to respond without hate. Martin Luther King Jr. called this unshakable strength “soul force.” In ancient Greece, anger was described as a noble emotion. It stood up for what was right; it spoke out against injustice. Non-contention carries this courage with a loving heart. Mahatma Gandhi acknowledged, “Nonviolence requires more courage than violence.”
True strength meets the vulnerability of life with caring and courage. Even in situations of great danger, true strength chooses love. Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated the strength of this love in the darkest hours, saying, “We will meet suffering with soul force.” It takes courage to truly feel the weight of each other’s suffering, courage to honor the other side’s fears of annihilation and loss of dignity. Yet until pain and fear are held in a wise way, the cycles of hatred will continue.
True strength also brings clarity, like a sword that cuts through illusion. It is called discriminating wisdom. When we are not locked in blame or struggle, we can see things as they are.“We can,” says William Butler Yeats, “make our minds so like still water that beings gather around us that they may see… their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.” When needed, we can be fierce and strong, wielding the sword of clarity. Liberated from anger, we can speak the truth fearlessly. At the same time we are free of ill will, so our actions care for the welfare of all.
Erroneously, we have come to believe that anger and hate are inevitable. Buddhist psychology shows us another way. We can live in this world with a non-contentious heart. We can discover the courage not to succumb, not to retreat, not to strike out in fear and anger. With the transformation of anger and hatred, we can speak the truth and stand up for justice. And by resting in the wise heart, we can be a lamp, a medicine, a liberating presence for all.