The following is a presentation given on the Dialogue Nights at Ikeda Center. This is a reflection following an article written by Mr. Daisaku Ikeda presented at Harvard, 1993.
“If the tragedies of this century of war and revolution have taught us anything, it is the folly of believing that reform of external factors, such as social systems, is the linchpin to achieving happiness. I am convinced that in the coming century, the greatest emphasis must be placed on fostering inwardly directed change.”

Question: Using this passage as a guide, can you think of a social/global issue (that resonates with you) where the ‘invisible arrow’ applies? An issue that although numerous efforts are being made towards policy/law, because of this arrow of prejudice and divisiveness, the issue cannot truly be transformed. 

“Hello I am Sonali Yadav, and I was born in India. The issue that came to my mind, when I was really pondering over the “invisible arrow” was the India-Pakistan conflict.

A little bit of history is necessary on the subject. When India gained independence from the British rule in 1947, the citizens of India paid a huge price. The British upon their departure, partitioned India into 2 major parts. One part was called Pakistan while the other part was called India. The partition was mainly done on the basis of the Hindu-Muslim majority. As a result, thousands of people were forced to migrate to either of the two countries, depending on their religion. The migration was sadly far from peaceful. There were mass murders, rapes, molestations, genocides- all on the basis of difference of religion. According to the New Yorker, “By 1948, as the great migration drew to a close, more than fifteen million people had been uprooted, and between one and two million were dead.”

There have been 4 wars fought between India and Pakistan since the partition. In the war of 1965 and 1971- my grandfather fought in the Indian Army. In the war of 1999- the Kargil war, my uncles fought in the Indian Army. To say that the wars were personal- is an understatement. One time, my uncle replied to a letter written by my mother after being on the Line of Control for months. The LOC or the Line of Control separates India and Pakistan, and my uncle was commissioned there during the Kargil war- a zone of major activity. The LOC was literally the frontline of the war. I still remember the day when my mother got his reply after months. All she cared about was that he was alive and he was well. I realized at that time, in that specific moment, that there is no price on Life. Life is just invaluable.

India and Pakistan are “traditional enemies”. The distrust and hatred that most of the people in these two countries have harbored toward each other have deep roots, aggravated by many violent conflicts. There have been numerous diplomatic attempts by various leaders to improve the relationship between the two countries, but the relationship is still hostile.

In the past couple of days, when I interviewed my veteran relatives- my one question was- “Can any initiative of dialogue prove to create peace between India and Pakistan?”

All answered No.

I wasn’t shocked at their answer. Any peace attempt, any political agenda, and any religious ideology has rendered this whole situation hopeless for them.

In the words of my father, when having a talk about Mr. Ikeda’s lecture, he said that the invisible arrow of differences on the basis of religion exists, but it’s become more than that.  Emotions just run high. The scars of the past are raw when you visit the border. “Sonali, do you really think that if there were no Muslims on the other side of the Border, we wouldn’t have a war?”

I passionately retort to my father. “But isn’t war an unnecessary evil? In no condition, we can have a war. We are just devaluing human life by having a war. Lives are lost! People become homeless! I believe a good, open-hearted, honest dialogue between leaders can prevent any war!”

“It is not that simple”, my dad irritatingly answers and I roll my eyes over the phone.

The grave tone in my dad’s voice makes me shiver when he finally utters, “War happens when all initiatives of dialogue fail, Sonali. In that case, war is the only option.”

I went silent. This conversation with my father wandered at the back of my mind for a few days. Could I ever be a catalyst for peace between the two countries?

Any religion that depreciates the value of a human life and saps away our ability to have compassion for other living beings, is not fulfilling its true purpose. A religion needs to empower people and not make the people slaves to their darkest impulses .A religion that makes you happy should leave no space for hatred, contempt, grudge and jealousy. There is no reason  for me to look down upon a person who practices Islam, even if they are on the other side of the border.

As long as we believe in humanity, you are my friend. It doesn’t really matter what part of the world you belong to. I am sure, that consistent courage and single-minded effort to create space for heartfelt communication is a microscopic seed planted for peace. This will join with other sincere efforts at grassroots dialogue and eventually contribute to easing tensions between the people of India and Pakistan.

Thank you,


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