Lao Tzu on War


Given the perfect imperfection of this dewdrop world, it seems that we have a long way to go before the human family absorbs the faith and the hope expressed so long ago by Albert Camus: that words might some day have a power greater than bullets. That day is clearly not here, and if it is inevitable during this turbulent era that war and violence continue to well up from the pain in the human heart, it would be a significant step toward sisterhood and brotherhood if these ancient words of Lao Tzu from verse 31 of the Tao Te Ching could be inscribed on the heart of everyone, warrior and non-warrior alike:

Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.
Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn’t wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?

He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and with great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.

2 thoughts on “Lao Tzu on War

  1. davemacquarrie

    Utterly true. Having taught anger management for 25 years, I would also add that a decent man/woman must know his/her own internal violence, and that the use of violence must come from compassion, not rage.



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