What can we do in response to the terrors, violence and dangers that are all over the world these days?
Of course, there is a limit to what the individual person can do by personal power or genius. Even groups of people may have difficulty bringing about genuinely constructive change and, in any case, there is much confusion about the right goals and methods.
It seems to me that as a general rule it is more use concentrating upon building the alternative than trying to deconstruct the troubles. For sure, there are times when it is appropriate to protest, but, generally speaking, more is usually achieved by creating conditions of peace and wellbeing, even if only in limited areas. These are like the seeds from which many things may grow in the future.
I always have this kind of attitude in mind. When I am working with students, my great delight is to see them develop into the kinds of people who will spread empathy and kindness in the world. When I am tending my garden, I am always thinking how to make it an attractive and peaceful environment for the visitor who comes to stay - the Dharma has often been expressed in gardens. When I am writing, I am trying to produce something that will be of inspiration to those few who choose to read. Even when I go to sleep at night I am hoping to refresh my body so as to be of use in the days ahead. I do not have great expectations of achievement, but I hope that somehow through my faith in the Buddha and unseen forces, little seeds will fall to earth and out of these I pray that something of worth may spring up. One never knows how far an influence will go and one cannot hope to see all the results oneself. One can only try to stay close to the truth of the present time and circumstance and, for the rest, trust in other power.
Often the most positive forces are actually patience and restraint. Terrorism is ultimately defeated by it having no great effect. The sooner its futility becomes apparent, the sooner it will diminish. Economic crises are precipitated by widespread excessive greed and associated cheating. Better to hold to simplicity and not become over extended; then when the crunch time comes one is less likely to be swept away and better placed to help other casualties. War and aggression are the results of bitterness and xenophobia. Better to give an example of appreciation of diversity.
We are all vulnerable to the effects of forces greater than ourselves, but the Buddhas have taught us that even if the world were consumed in a great fire, the person of pure heart will be safe in spirit. Let us have faith in that and trust that such faith, carried into action in daily life, is enough.