The Texas Buddha was asked if violence is ever appropriate. He answered, “We must avoid violence whenever we can, but we must also realize there are times when we must choose between competing forms of violence. On occasion, to remain passive means participating in systemic violence. Still, we must remember that new thorns grow wherever an army has marched.

“And we must remember that no one is a fair judge of his or her own cause. It always seems that the pain we cause others is less than what we receive. I knew a Somali pirate who told me of a terrible game ancient pirates would play with their prisoners. The pirates would chain prisoners in a circle around the mast of the ship. Each prisoner would be given a whip and told to strike the prisoner in front of him. That was the game. Now, clearly it would be in the interest of all the prisoners to barely strike the others, but human nature is not like that.

“As the game progressed, each prisoner would come to feel that the others were hitting him harder than he was hitting back. Inevitably, the prisoners would be reduced to a bloody mess. This is why sages teach us that those who would seek peace must not be the judge of their own cause.”