The Buddha and Modern Warfare. Part 2 of 2
See previous blog for the first half of the essay (The Buddha on Modern Warfare). Part 1 had the following sub headings :
The Madness of War
The Political Ego
Sacrifice and Suffering
The Army inspired the Buddha
Consequences of Conflict.
Here is the second and final half of the essay ( around 5900 words), the sub-headings are:
Conscription and Army Volunteers
Dahiya Doctrine of Israel and armchair existence
‘We have to defend ourselves’
The Buddha and the Nazis.
Corrupt in thought and purpose.
Reconstruction not Destruction
The Buddha and Modern Warfare
Conscription and Volunteers for the Army
The Buddha compared the grip of painful situations, like war, to a creeper strangling a tree. The war zone leaves such dark impressions and traumatised emotions that they act like a creeper strangling the life of the tree. As a loving father, the Buddha strongly encouraged his young son, Rahula, to reflect frequently on his actions of body, speech and mind, otherwise he might harm himself and harm others resulting in a terrible anguish.
Many soldiers sent to war must wish they had received such basic teachings in ethics as they live through one horrible nightmare after another. Some countries enforce military conscription on young men and women robbing them of their choice to follow another way in life. Those that refuse conscription can face imprisonment, become alienated and suffer loss of career opportunities, as employers perceive the refusniks as disloyal to the aims of the nation state. Young people or their commanders were never encouraged to reflect on the possible personal consequences of their violent acts in the military nor the consequences of their actions upon others. They may well have to live with this despair for the rest of their lives.
There are young men and women who volunteer. Like fish to the bait, they found themselves sucked into the desire to taste the so-called glamour and adventure of war only to find it is the most depraved and corrupt form of human behaviour. Young men and women are seduced by Hollywood movies, computer war games, commercials to join the army and the desire for adventure. We watch on our television screen endless documentaries telling us of the great sacrifices our soldiers made for the people. There is no questioning of the useless obedience to political authority and the sickness of society that condones such blind obedience, regardless of the suffering and death involved. It is to this kind of submissive and unquestioning grasping of standpoints that the Buddha also directed his concerns.
Our leaders have misled our dedicated men and women in military service who could make precious contributions in military service to the rebuilding of countries and the upliftment of the lives of citizens in far-away countries.
The Buddha commented: “The young people, who make an onslaught on people, are cruel, bloody-handed, intent on injuring and killing, and without mercy. Because of that deed, they experience a downfall, a hell.”MN 135/III 303.
A man may harm another
As it may serve his ends, but when he’s harmed
By others he, despoiled, harms yet again.
So long as evil’s fruit is not matured
The fool does fancy: “Now’s the hour, the chance!”
But when the deed bears fruit, he suffers.
The slayer gets a slayer in his turn,
The conqueror gets one who conquers him,
The abuser wins abuse, the annoyer worries
Thus by the evolution of the deed
A man who harms is harmed in his turn.43
The harm we inflict upon others, we find one way or the other, harm inflicts itself upon ourselves. In his resolute teaching of moral integrity, the Buddha sees nothing worthy whatsoever of any kind of support, approval or praise in war and violence. The Buddha never named military units as praiseworthy or fighting soldiers as heroes. He completely dismissed the idea found in religion, especially the Abrahamic religions, that a soldier who dies in battle goes to heaven. The Buddha treated such a view with utter disdain.
The Buddha said the army carried the corrupt idea: “Let them be exterminated so they have no existence.” He said that the mind set on the killing of others can only “lead downwards to a hell.” He did not mince his words. He had no interest in offering consolation to soldiers, uniformed or not, who risked their lives for their cause. He made clear that the mind of war mongering leaders and the military organisations were filled with aversion and the desire for the destruction and death of the others. War serves no purpose in the Dharma way of life.
The Dharma teachings reveal some of the conditions for war including fear, blame, humiliation, poverty, deprivation, political systems, colonisation, occupation as well as the condition of the inner life. Fear, violence and war remain inseparably related intensely as the connection between crippling creepers and trees. Prior to his awakening:
“Fear results from resorting to violence—just look at how people quarrel and fight. But let me tell you now of the kind of dismay and terror that I have felt. Seeing people struggling like fish, writhing in shallow water, with enmity against one another, I became afraid. At one time, I had wanted to find some place where I could take shelter, but I never saw such a place.
I had seen them all trapped in mutual conflict and that is why I had felt so repelled. But then I noticed something buried deep in their hearts. It was—I could just make it out—a dart. It was a dart that makes all its victims run all over the place. Once the dart is pulled out, the running stops. We can learn from this. We do not pursue bondage to the world (of unhealthy and violent actions) Sn 935–40.
Weapons serve as outcome for the poisonous dart in the mind. Poisoned inwardly, a person becomes determined to inflict pain on others, to punish those who go against their view of reality. The Buddha reported an account of such circumstances. A king felt determined to punish harshly those who went against him but a wise sage told him that inflicting fines, incarceration and death would not resolve the conflict since ongoing punishment sustained hardship and injustice for the people which will bring about further violent uprisings.
The sage said the agitators and militants will live in peace when the king and government feed the people, pay the people wages for work, give them the opportunity to develop themselves and society, and encourage business and prosperity. ‘Families will be happy; the people will dance and live with open doors.’ (DN 5/1 135). The Buddha offered here a social agenda to bring about an end to unrest and war. The texts show that the more brutal the punishment, the more extreme the violent reaction from people. The corruption and violence of the State generates the same kind of punitive behaviour among the people.
In its war on crime and drugs, the USA has jailed 2.4 million of its citizens, more than any other country on Earth. More than 45,000 prisoners have been given lifelong sentences without parole. It shows the US judiciary firmly rejects the possibility of redemption as advocated in the Christian tradition, the main religion followed in the USA. Most states in the USA continue the policy of executions for certain crimes.
King Ajasattu had decided to conquer and occupy Vajjia, a neighbouring country. The Vajjian people had come to happiness and prosperity through practising the Buddha’s seven conditions for the welfare of society (A iv 17). They were:
To hold frequent public meetings
To meet together to make decisions and carry them out in concord
Uphold traditions and honour agreements
Respect and support wisdom of the elders
Respect the wishes of women
Pay respect to places of worship
Support and protect the wise and noble ones.
The Kind sent his chief minister. Vassakara. to find out the Buddha’s views on his decision to invade the Vajjis and whether the Buddha could predict victory. King Ajatsattu said: “As powerful and mighty as these Vajjis are, I will annihilate them, destroy them, bring calamity and disaster upon them.” The Buddha disregarded the determination of the King to annihilate the Vajjis and praised the Vajjis for upholding democracy and a healthy republic. He said the people would continue to stay strong.
The Buddha said the king would not defeat the republican institutions of the Vajjis and accept a monarchy. King Ajasattu postponed the declaration of war when Vassakara told the King he could only bring about collapse of democracy of the Vajjis through treachery and dissension. Not long after the death of the Buddha, King Ajasattu engineered dissent and conflict leading to the breakdown of democracy for Vajjian people. The King ordered his army into the country to impose a monarchy over the people of the republic.
In September, 2014, and four weeks after a war on Gaza, 43 reservists in Israel’s elite military corps called Unit 8200 took the ethical step to refuse to engage in further intelligence gathering on Palestinians as it was used to “deepen military rule” of the occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967. The signatories sent the letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Chiefs of Staff of the Israeli Army. Unit 8200, the largest unit in the IDF, expressed a convergence of ethics, the military and politics that provoked public debate and discussion on ethics within Unit 8200. The signatories said the intelligence gathering “harms innocents and serves for political persecution and sowing discord in Palestinian society.” King Ajatsattu, the Israeli Prime Minister and other leaders have much in common in the widespread use of the British colonial maxim “divide and rule.” The Buddha gave teachings on bridging the divide.
The Dahiya Doctrine of Israel and an Armchair Existence
Wars continue with a desire held by both sides for the destruction of the other. The military launches its bombs and shells on civilian populations where armed groups live. Such armies adopt the principle of the Dahiya doctrine, a concept developed by the Israeli government and army. The Dahiya Doctrine refers to the application of widespread destruction as a means of deterrence. Consciously or unconsciously, more and more armies have adopted the Dahiya Doctrine of pervasive destruction as a deterrent. The invading army knows that the armed bases of their enemies are located in centres of population, cities, towns and villages. The invading force claims their enemies use the population as a shield to stop bombing and shelling. It is very probable that army headquarters, bases and garrisons of the invaders are found in areas of crowded population, often simply enabling the military to work near their homes. Presumably, we must assume the army of any nation deliberately locates its bases in populated areas so they can use civilians as shields against attack.
The Dahiya Doctrine is named after a southern suburb in Beirut with large apartment buildings that the Israel Defence Force (IDF) flattened during the 2006 war on Lebanon. The UN has accused Israel of applying the doctrine to the Palestinians in Gaza during the invasions in recent years. The Doctrine seeks to bring as much suffering as possible to citizens trapped in a war zone.
This Doctrine has now come to legitimise the destruction of homes, schools, offices, hospitals, public building, shopping malls, factories, depots, industrial estates, public utilities, such as electricity, as a form of collective punishment. The application of the doctrine generates immense hardship upon families as well as their subjugation and humiliation. This widely used attitude fuels immense rage among some young men who take up arms to try to get revenge on attacking armies, as well as impose their own religious or political ideology or both. Traumatised citizens, who endure daily attacks, rarely turn on their own leaders but regard them as their support even when their leaders provoke retaliation.
The political belief of leaders that they have the power to limit their wars to a specific period of time and place shows a depth of naivety and irresponsibility for the growing number of people dragged into the killing fields. They conveniently forget that a World War developed from the Nazi invasion of nearby Poland, or the invasion of Iraq (in the pursuit of non-existence weapons of mass destruction) triggered civil and neighbour wars in surrounding nations. The Buddha’s teachings on karma consistently examine intention, action and the consequences.
The invasion of Afghanistan and the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine have impacted upon much of the Arab world in terms of hostility to Western policies. The West has spent billions of dollars sending in the troops and armaments in trying to control the wars they helped create in the Middle East. There is madness to all of this and the doctrines that accompany war. These military excursions to bring order and democracy to the Arab world have gathered a mythological status to disguise irrational and compulsive behaviour.
Outside of the small numbers campaigning to end war, or engage in humanitarian actions, the vast majority find it hard to cope with the information overload on death and destruction, and rarely act. To their immense credit, more and more compassionate citizens do dip into their pockets to make a contribution for the development of relief work for those who suffer. Although deeply welcomed by all charities working to relieve suffering, the donations cannot empower the donors to take actions themselves to stop the wars.
News readers on Western television tell their TV audiences that what they may find what they are about to see “disturbing.” With few exceptions, the short clips fail to disturb. The news clip might show a large cloud of smoke from a bombing, the aftermath of a suburb reduced to rubble or a crying mother in a hospital. This is the sanitisation of war in which the real horror of war on men, women and children remains largely hidden.
TV clips could show people screaming through loss of limbs or terrible burns or a beheading. Even if television studios permitted such horror on the screen, it is still unlikely that it would galvanize viewers into action to force their government to stop the perpetuation of suffering. We do not witness the consequences of the atrocities our armed force whether launched from the air, sea or land. We launch highly destructive weapons decimating entire groups of people. Hard-core clips would shock initially but audiences would soon get used to it. Scenes that shock do not produce compassionate action to force governments to change their policies. Instead, we can only give some money for refugees.
You might imagine that news film on television, night after night, would galvanise the public into widespread protest at the promulgation of wars in our name. We become numb to any horrific scenes that appear on the screen. The government and military control journalists on the ground to ensure that they only witness a selective representation of military action. Israel refuses to allow Israeli journalists to travel with the Israeli army (IDF) when the country engages in its periodic invasion of Palestinian territories or Lebanon
Television renders viewers as armchair spectators to the daily killings and violence at home and abroad. The news item and the follow up documentaries intended to wake us up to terrible events, puts us to sleep. It contributes to the sustaining numbing of consciousness as we sit on the armchair or stretch out on the couch eyes glued to the screen. The vast majority of TV viewers function as passive spectators while a tiny minority feel rage at what they watch on their screens or act in healthy ways to try to stop the carnage.
The desire of leaders to punish political activists engaged in violent struggle only pushes more and more people into more violence, even when the odds are totally stacked against them. The heavy hand of punishment and revenge feeds the very situation that the leaders want to stop. Instead of heavy punishment, the Buddha took a polar opposite view telling people in power to give support to the poor, deprived and marginalised (DN 5/1 135).
‘We have to defend ourselves.’
Leaders have to realise the psychology of people living under oppression, occupation and forms of colonialism, economic or imperial. Those that live under oppression see their violent acts of protest as an affirmation of their determination for survival and dignity. They fear that if they do not fight back, no matter how hopeless the odds, they will be even more downtrodden and dehumanised. Their rebellions, even at great personal cost to their communities, helps ensure that the rest of the world, and particularly the West remember their desperate plight. The brutality of occupation and summary killings increases the levels of desperation of people so they form groups to strike back – no matter how meaningless and senseless their efforts. The victors and the defeated suffer. The brutalised will also turn on each other as their rage explodes. The Buddha commented:
Victory breeds hatred,
The defeated live in pain.
Happily the peaceful live,
Giving up victory and defeat. (Dhp 201)
This verse serves as resource for reflection, a point for inner-outer enquiry. Rather than regard it a simple aphorism to gloss over momentarily, we can ask ourselves, and each other, questions based on those four lines.
Why does victory breed hatred?
Why do the defeated live in pain?
Can we dig deep into ourselves?
Can we uncover a deep empathy for others?
Can we see human beings rather the labels we use to identify them?
We know we share common fears about being subjected to violence and death. We reflect on these fears so they can serve to develop a moral basis to stay true to ethics that outweigh social and political pressures. We might foolishly imagine that the evolution of human behaviour makes it a historical necessity for certain numbers of our species in order to go to war with other members of our species to reduce the global population. These violent views justify war as an evolutionary means to reduce the explosion of population, to ensure the continuity of the species. If that were the case, then there is little point in these wars taking place in some of the poorest regions of Africa and Asia, since their modest use of raw materials and depleted resources matters little compared to the wealthy nations totally in the grip of corporate consumerism. Theories of evolution, biological determination and instinctive impulses have nothing to offer in terms of understanding the suffering of war and the necessary inquiry into the causes and conditions that give rise to the suffering.
The Buddha refuted the view that we live under the spell of evolutionary forces of nature removing all our potential to develop an ethical way of life. While recognising the long process of an evolutionary becoming, and making frequent reference to it, the Buddha reminded us of our capacity to reflect, to meditate and transcend our identity with any particular group, tribe or nation. This provides the inner life with an opportunity to find enough to space to look at the so-called division between self and other, us and them.
The Buddha said that when governments do not support people, whether at home or in neighbouring countries, then evil actions, such as violence and killing, grow rife. They will dehumanise the people who take to weapons by referring to them as “wild beasts” and “deprive them of life.” (D 111 73). The Cakkavatti Sutta says poverty, hardship, social and economic injustice feeds violence.
The Buddha reminded the rulers of the inner and outer conditions for war with his core insight that everything, without exception, including war, dependently arises owing to conditions. If a leader works to end the conditions for war, then war cannot arise. The Buddha uttered his famous statement that ought to be remembered by all thoughtful people. It is the founding principle to initiate meaningful change:
“When this is, that is; this arising, that arises.
When this is not, that is not; this ceasing, that ceases.”
In Pali, this profound insight reads,
“Masmi sati ida hoti; imass’ uppd ida uppajjati.
Imasmi asati ida na hoti; imassa nirodh ida nirujjhati.
The Buddha interpreted all events and tendencies, without exception, from the standpoint of such causality. (DN 15).
The Buddha and the Nazis
Political leaders and monarchs for centuries have employed the language of “we have to defend ourselves” even as they sent their army into another country. Rulers perceive the language of defence as palatable to their citizens. while they engage in an attack on other countries. Even the Nazis, with their obscene ideology, as they invaded some 13 countries between 1939 and 1945, used the language of self-defence. The Nazis reminded German citizens that Germany was squeezed between two ideologies determined to destroy the national socialism of Germany. To the West of Germany, Britain had a capitalist and imperialist empire that exploited a quarter of the world’s population, plus the support of the might of capitalist America. To the east of Germany, the Russian empire had developed communism for 20 years that robbed citizens of their rights to personal ownership of property and private land. The Russian government also forbade the right to self-employment or to form private businesses.
The Nazis told the German population that they went to war to defend German values and German culture while preserving European civilisation from capitalism and bolshevism. The majority of German citizens gradually absorbed the propaganda. They got used to the megalomania of Hitler and his desire to establish the Third Reich. Most turned a blind eye to his determination to exterminate Jews, Communists, gypsies and the mentally/physically disabled. The media in Germany regularly showed pictures of desperate poverty and hardship, mass unemployment and miserable living conditions in Britain, the USA and Russia. The Nazis claimed that National Socialism had eliminated such poverty. The Nazis exterminated the intellectuals, the non-violent activists, the liberals and dissidents as Hitler mercilessly pursued his political/military agenda. They used the language of defending European civilisation yet did more to destroy it than any nation in history. The relentless propaganda seeped into the DNA of a civilised people with the deaths of some 50 million people in the space of six years.
Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister for Propaganda, stated: “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”
He also said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Our politicians lied to us when they stated repeatedly that Iraq kept weapons of mass destruction: this is one contemporary example of the perpetuation of a lie. The deception cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens and the deaths, including suicide, of thousands of US and NATO troops. The Buddha demanded from thoughtful human beings, reflection, inquiry and questioning of everything our political masters tell us, and to check whether their views give support to waging war.
At the end of World War One, the victorious Allies’ hate of Germany led, after the war, to the collective punishment of Germans with subsequent poverty and hardship. Supported by the pernicious Versailles Treaty, such terrible deprivation exacted further punishment leading to the conditions for World War Two. The punishment of Germany at the end of the First World War contributed to planting the seeds for Fascism, the blitzkrieg and the holocaust.
France, the U.K., the USA and other countries forced Germany to accept full responsibility for causing all the loss and damage of the World War One between 1914-1918. The people of Germany saw this as a national humiliation. They developed a growing resentment towards other European nations and became determined to assert their superiority in Europe through forming extreme nationalistic parties with a fascist ideology. The Nazis exploited the political rage in Munich and elsewhere with terrifying consequences.
In power, the Nazi government drew upon the concept ‘Aryan’ (meaning Noble) used in ancient Indian culture, especially by the Buddha to indicate a ‘noble’ human being grounded in ethics, wisdom and compassion. The Nazis redefined the concept to indicate a pure and superior race. It is hard to imagine a greater perversion of the Buddha’s teachings. The Nazis also adopted the Hindu swastika that showed paths that lead to the centre. In Sanskrit, the symbol meant to be making good – to reach the Centre (su – good, , asti – to be, ka – making).
During the 1920s, Berlin established the first Buddhist centre in Europe that continued throughout the war, possibly with the support of Magda Goebbels, the wife of Joseph Goebbels. Magda Goebbels had years of interest in Indian philosophy, especially Buddhism, which she learnt from her father’s interest in the religion. Because her children were still innocent, she believed they were guaranteed rebirth in more favourable conditions than in the present life. Magda once remarked that she “ wished to offer the children a new and better chance in life and for this they would first have to die.”
With the defeat of Nazism, Magda Goebbels said that she and her family had no right to go on living. She continued to take comfort in her belief in rebirth that emerged from her warped reading of Buddhist books. She then poisoned her six children the day after Hitler committed suicide and she and her husband took their own lives. The dust from the wind blew back in the face of the Nazis.
While holding certain political and military leaders and individuals accountable for their war crimes at the Nuremburg trials, the Allies began a massive programme of rebuilding Germany rather than applying collective punishment, as had happened after World War One.. The Allies flew in thousands of planes into Berlin to feed the population during the time of the Russian blockade. The Buddha would have fully supported such an approach since these acts of kindness to end poverty and injustice ensured the welfare of the people and the reintegration of Germany into European society.
The Nazis lived a vile conceit of themselves as superior to everybody else. Notions of superiority of the State feed into the dogma of views manifesting as “this is the truth, all else is false.” The adherence to such a view comes through its repetition and often the slow, insidious identification with the view as the truth that a large section of society blindly follows. The Buddha said that deceit consists of the measurement of oneself with others.
Corrupt in Thought and Purpose
The Buddha showed his abhorrence of those who have little regard for the preciousness of life. Of such a person, the Buddha said he “is malevolent in mind, corrupt in thought and purpose, and thinks: “Let these people be killed or slaughtered or annihilated or destroyed so they may they not exist at all.” (MN 41/I 287).
A Brahmin of the Bharadvaja sect asked the Buddha if there was any kind of killing that the Buddha would approve. The Buddha replied:
“The killing of anger with its poisoned root and honey tip is the killing the noble ones praise. For having killed anger/violence, one does not sorrow. The Buddha added that the one who “abusers the abuser partakes of the same meal.” Both enter into an exchange. “One who repays violence with violence makes things worse for himself. Not repaying violence with violence, one wins a battle hard to win.
“The fool thinks victory is won. When by speech, he bellows harshly. Patient endurance is the true victory. He added that when one wrongs or harms an innocent person, the evil falls back on the person like fine dust blow against the wind.” (SN V11. 7).
The Aganna Sutta shows an entangling of conflicting desires brings about downfall and ruin. Desire, conceit and views form together through the proliferation of negative thought that leads to the taking up of weapons. The self of the individual and the collective claim the right to be angry, to get revenge and to punish. Leaders and citizens regard the ‘other’ worthy of punishment so they take to arms to deprive them of life. (D111 73). Much preparatory thought arises beforehand. Conflict and war depend on the proliferation of negative thought (papanca), words and actions. The ending of the proliferation of negative thought ends the quarrels and the violence. We work simultaneously to change the inner life and work to stop wars and violence.
The ending of such papanca makes discernment clear in terms of criticism and appreciation. The Buddha did not ignore the violence of humanity or treat it as some inevitable outcome of human behaviour. The vast majority of his discourses he offered to the Sangha. He provided the Sangha with tools to go deep into themselves, and shared skilfull forms of language so the Sangha could teach the Dharma to householders. He certainly did not confine himself exclusively to working with a Sangha of men and women detached from worldly life and worldly issues. Having been born into the warrior/military caste, and trained in military disciplines, he expected to go to war and lead others into war. He knew the madness of such actions. Instead he addressed the psychological, social, religious and national conditions that lead to war (MN 21/1 129)
In the Pasura Sutta of Sutta Nipata, the Buddha said he saw only misery in holding onto harmful views. He concluded that peace gets established without adopting and holding to such views. He explained that the origins of violent disputes leading to armed struggle require slander of the other and arrogance. ‘Holding onto things” (views, religious beliefs land and coveting what others have), brings about painful consequences, he made clear. The constant putting down of others brings strife so the wise refuse to enter into dogmatism to perpetuate aggression.
The Buddha showed a determination to speak out on social and political issues rather than avoid these issues of national and international interest. His fearless communication revealed a departure from meditation teachers, yoga teachers, abbots, monks and nuns, who had withdrawn into a spiritual consciousness with little or no comments on such depths of suffering in the world.
The Buddha spoke out and against the blameworthy, rather than adopt a passive equanimity to the plight of people living under corrupt leadership. He discouraged young men from engaging in the killing of others and undermined the caste system with its warrior/military caste.
“Service should only be engaged in if it is wholesome, not harmful. I do not say everything should be followed after, nor do I say everything should not be followed after. When following after something, if trust, virtues, learnedness, benevolence and wisdom increases, I say that should be followed.’
Reconstruction not Destruction
Generally, human beings lack the individual and collective skills to stop war, to stop the bloodshed and the production of weaponry. We have to endure the puerile symbols of the national flag and the national anthem. In order to maintain the significance of a particular nation state, the leaders and their demagogues have to revert to history to propagate great stories from the past, distant or recent, to show the special status of the nation in the world.
Without exception, wars are crude, brutal and utterly irrational; created and fought by human beings, mostly men, who confirm a barbaric and unevolved mentality. Even if the state was formed recently through a division of land or a theft of land, the new state will build a short history of triumphant struggles to assert its place among the nations. The formation of a State often gives priority to the dominant ethnic group at the expense of minorities, who receive far less favourable support from the state. It is a two or three tier system with immigrants and refugees treated as the lower caste: the problematic group.
Resentment over conquest lasts not years or decades but centuries as a minority endeavours to free itself from the governance or occupation of the powerful. For example, the English, who brutally occupied Ireland, triggered a max exodus of Irish citizens to North America and elsewhere with a 50% fall in their population during the 19th century and into the 20th century. The numbers of citizens in Ireland during this period of occupation slumped from eight million to less than four million. When people live in desperate circumstances, they will do everything possible to make a new life at home or move themselves and their families to other parts of the world, whether welcome or not.
Family after family find themselves camped out in appalling conditions in the aftermath of war as well as during it. These refugees living in a state of utter destitution have little in the way of survival, whether food or water or a change of clothes. They experience the absence of necessities to keep clean, to go the toilet, let alone have medicine. Yet war refugees seem to show a determined resilience to carry on as best they can, even as their loved ones lie dead under the rubble or even trapped helpless, unable to be rescued owing to lack of rubble shifting equipment.
Out of the camps of refugees and rubble, the work of reconstruction begins – providing the victorious warmongers allow it. Instead of waging war, armies could devote their considerable expertise to the work of construction rather than destruction. We need to start transforming our weapons factories into wholesome factories for the upliftment of people. The reconstruction of the inner life can take much longer. We need teams of people to show the power of the Dharma teachings to develop ethics, love and wisdom to overcome humiliation and violent action. The teachings also examine all forms of grasping including any identification with any nation that places one country above others.
We live in a world with a desperate shortage of wise leadership. We cannot expect change from the top down while our political leaders protect themselves through publicists, financial advisors and powerful military/businesses agendas. We see widespread corruption in democracy while small networks of thoughtful people have the unenviable task of keeping alive the flame of spirituality, justice and sustainable living.
We need to convert our armies to armies offering constructive resolution to conflict not destructive. We need to convert our factories to factories of constructive materials not destructive weapons. We need to employ our scientists to develop tool for mass construction, not weapons of mass destruction. We need Ministers for Peace in our government, not Ministers for (so-called) Defence. We need intelligence gathering to develop ethics and social responsibility not to create division.
We need to offer resources with words of wisdom not weapons with our so-called enemies. We need a fundamental and radical change in the relationship between nations, organisations, religions and political systems. We need to stop trying to impose our will on the rest of the world and start to listen, learn and offer badly needed resources. We need to explore causes and conditions for war. We need to work on our inner life and develop our humanity.
The Buddha’s teachings address suffering and total transformation. It is an emergence from the dark into the light of consciousness. Wisdom reveals a profound liberation from the narrowness of harmful views. The notion of ‘us and them’ is a false mental construct.
MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE IN PEACE
MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE IN HARMONY
MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE IN PEACE AND HARMONY