War is cruel because it brings destruction. It destroys individuals, families, and countries. People lose their houses, their families, and their lives. Such tragedies are too numerous to relate. We all hope and pray for peace. Everyone wants to live and work in happiness. World peace has always been and will continue to be the pursuit of all humankind.
However, war is a cruel reality of this world. There are many causes for war. It can be a result of territorial expansion, political persecution, racial hatred, or even the support of a just cause. Sometimes force must be used to stop force. While peace is the manifestation of the positive and bright side of human nature, war can destroy an entire culture. On the other hand, war can also enhance civilization. Its merits and faults can hardly be summed up simply.
The history of the world is a history of war. Even before the first and second world wars, the fighting among European countries was fierce. During the Crusades, many lives were lost. Then there were the wars in Asia between Japan and Russia, Thailand and Burma, and China and Japan.
In ancient times, there were numerous wars and battles between the dynasties in China. The five thousand years of Chinese history is filled with the blood and tears of war. Due to all the fighting that has gone on over the ages, the common folk all long for the dawn of permanent peace in the world. The day China and Taiwan proclaim “peaceful unification,” it will be the best news in the world for 1.2 billion people.
King Asoka, the monarch who ruled India two thousand years ago, was similar to the First Emperor of the Chinese Qin Dynasty. They were both successful conquerors and created huge empires for themselves. They annexed many small nations, and took the best resources from their regions. However, wherever King Asoka went, all he could see was the hatred in the eyes of the conquered citizens who lined up to receive him. Later, he became a Buddhist and governed his empire according to Buddhist teachings. The residents began to live and work in peace. His benevolent policies and compassionate leadership won the hearts of his subjects. Afterwards, whenever King Asoka traveled around his empire again, his subjects lined the roads and cheered. Deeply moved, he proclaimed. “The Dharma can conquer everything. Only the victory of the Dharma is true victory.”
George Washington once said, “Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct… It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.” Buddhism’s teachings too emphasize equality and selfless tolerance. It is only through selflessness that we can conquer selfish desires and achieve a free, democratic, and peaceful world for all.