Plant the tree of friendship
For it will bear your heart’s desire
Uproot the sapling of enmity
Or it will bring innumerable pain

Those are the words of the Great Iranian poet Hafez who composed the poem when Iran was burning in the flames of the Tartar War. He tried to turn the fires of war into a garden of reconciliation.

I learnt on the battlefield that compassion is more powerful than mortars and machine guns. I can kill you with a punch. I can change you and change the world with kindness.

It’s a message for parents, especially fathers, to instill in their children. Maybe countries at war have so many difficulties because parents do not share their stories with their children.

My whole life I have wondered why people fight so much. I have seen people who fought and killed during political turmoil but weeks later resumed their lives as if nothing has happened. I hope, perhaps naively, that the cycle of revenge, war and atrocities can be broken. Life is too short, even without war.

But if hatred and rancour are rising in the farthest reaches of the globe, we have a duty to help douse those flames, to remind our enemies that we share a common humanity. Uproot the sapling of enmity. Otherwise, in the blink of an eye, the fire will consume our own homes.

Zahed Haftlang