Listening to Our Enemies: A Path to Peace

Amaryllis Fox, former CIA Clandestine Service officer for almost ten years in counter-terrorism around the world, is now working to help create and maintain peace between young people in war-torn areas.

From lessons learned in the field, here are some of her wise words, that pertain to conflict everywhere:

“The only real way to disarm your enemy is to listen to them.

“If you hear them out, if you’re brave enough to really listen to their story, you can see that more often than not you might have made some of the same choices, if you’d lived their life instead of yours.”

In war-torn areas, where terrorism has become a way of life, she says:

“When you talk to the people who are fighting on the ground, on both sides, and ask them why they are there, they answer with hopes for their children, specific policies that they think are cruel or unfair. . .

She says that hearing them out on policy concerns is actually an amazing thing, but as long as we view our enemies as ‘subhuman psychopaths that are going to attack us no matter what we do’, it never ends.

She says if we can view our enemy as a ‘policy concern’, that this is something that can be worked with.


What wise words for all disagreements,

without and within!

Disagreement at work or with a family member?

A policy concern. . .

Our own lack of self-worth, lack of self-Love?

Just a policy concern.

Listen to our ‘policy concerns’

create peace.

If our journeys are a series of reflections, of mirrors, what does the terrorism that is happening on planet represent within us?

What is the reflection of terrorism without, within?

What am I afraid of within?



In this next YouTube, Amaryllis explains how in her early 20’s she created an algorithm to predict areas in the world that would give rise to terrorist activity.

She wanted to deconstruct what it is that creates terrorism.

From this a question arises: How do we deconstruct our own fears?

Since leaving the CIA, Amaryllis felt it was her responsibility to make the world a safer, more peaceful place for her daughter to inherit, so she started an organization with former specialized officers, to help create peace in areas that are still in conflict.

“I think one of the greatest lessons that I took away from my career at the agency is. . . that everybody believes they are the good guy, and for many people in Syria and Iraq and Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia and other places where we’re flying drones, the idea of being kept safe by American sky robots that kill people without making a sound, is as upsetting and driving as much desire for conflict in the Islamic world, as the atrocities that we see ISIS committing, is driving the American world.”

In a letter to her daughter before she goes back into the danger on one of her peace missions, Amaryllis writes:

“My sweetest coyote, more than anything I wish I could hold you as you read this. I wish I could wrap you up in my arms and tell you how you are my best friend and wisest teacher.

“I wish I could read you this snugged in our bed with the world at bay outside our window and only Love around us, but I’m writing you this letter in case I can’t, in case I’ve been stopped or hurt or killed, in case it’s only my Love and not my arms, that hold you tonight.”

She goes on to say, she feels for all humanity, their craving for Love and understanding, their yearning to be heard and seen:

“As you grew, deep within my navel, I felt all of humanity inside you. . . all over this tiny speck in space, we humans are the same, craving of Love, of understanding, of being heard and seen.”

Amaryllis’ purpose for her trip is to spend time with Syrian and Iraqi young people who have lost family members because of the fighting, to help with reconciliation programs that have been organized, for trust to be built again between these young ones who have seen such atrocities.

This is her passion — her courageous commitment — to help others create and be the peace that she, and the young people, knows is possible through communication.

At the end of this video, she shares how she loves the lines below, from a poem by Rumi:

Out beyond ideas of wrong doing

and right doing there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.

She says when she was out in the field, she realized that the question is not who’s right and who’s wrong — that almost always both sides are partially right — but that it is important to put ourselves in our adversaries shoes, and to open the space, so our adversaries can put themselves in our shoes.

Amaryllis is demonstrating incredible courage and bravery doing just that.

She knows when she does this, communication happens, understanding occurs.

Especially poignant is the end of Amaryllis’ letter — that someone will give to her daughter — if she does not make it back from her mission of peace:

I’m with you now, as you read this,

and always in every breath.

Do not fear the darkness.

You have within you the brightest of lanterns.

Let your Love fill you with warmth,

that you might fill others, and they still others,

until the world is lit from your heart.

You are the Love of my life, Mom


Thank you, Amaryllis, for your incredible courage.

Thank you, Mother, for your forgiveness of everything.


Love is everything.

Source: Listening to Our Enemies: A Path to Peace


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