We need to criticise openly our government and other governments that perpetuate suffering…
I wrote a single blog (on August 5, 2014) as a response to the conflict between the Israeli government and Hamas, the Palestinian government in Gaza. I received a number of responses through social media, emails and conversations.
Some of the messages were thoughtful and reflective, and others were less thoughtful (that is a genuine English understatement).
For example, one thoughtful correspondent in Israel emailed me:
“Israel and Israelis are condemned for their activities in your post, but Palestinians and Hamas are not.”
I sent the person a paragraph from my August 5 blog. (I had stated earlier in the blog that al-Qassam Brigade is the military wing of Hamas). This is a paragraph from my blog.
“Three Israeli citizens and 61 Israeli soldiers have died due to the launching of daily rockets into Israel by al-Qassam Brigade. The suffering for Israeli families over the loss of their loved ones is almost unimaginable. Al-Qassam has the same murderous intent as the IRA. They should join IRA terrorists in any hell, along with certain sections of the IDF. Israel society is suffering too. If the West, including activists, understood the suffering of Israelis, had contact with the inner life of Israelis, and really understood their history, there would be far greater empathy for their situation and perspectives. But this does not condone the bombing and invasion of Gaza.”
I emailed a Dharma colleague in Israel about such emails from Israel. I found his response an insightful observation. He wrote in his email:
“I imagine that you also received less reasonable responses.
In this case, I think the exchange you shared with us reveals at least two things.
People do not listen (read).
You will write about the atrocities of Hamas and they will ask you why you do not acknowledge the atrocities of Hamas.
You will write about empathy for Israelis and they will ask you why you do not acknowledge our plight.
People have very strong filters. Even when they don’t misread you so grossly, they will have many ways to reject what Dharma colleague calls “uncomfortable information” because it threatens something deep in their (collective) self-identity.
My colleague has been working for a few years on understanding the infrastructure of collective “conflict mind-set” and developing ways to transform it.
This mind-set is a set of beliefs, hidden assumptions emotional patterns and skewed interpretations, which create strong filters on the way individuals and societies, understand the conflict they are living in.
In simplistic terms, the bottom line is that most of the society develops a view of “us or them”. Among other things, this means that if you show, even some sympathy for “them,” it means you are totally against “us”.
If you question some of “our” actions, it means you totally delegitimise “us” and justify “them”. In view of this, the hostile responses you get are not surprising.”
I found this email very helpful. In other words, the mind-set, itself, is in a state of conflict, which subsequently carries a blind spot. A person writes an essay or a blog. There is the clear intention to admonish those who advocate war – regardless of any national/religious persuasion. There is a reading that becomes selective of content.
It is important to remember that the Buddha-Dharma upholds an unwavering moral view of the important of non-harming/non-aggression/non-hatred/non-violence. This principle is a core ethic of the Dharma. The root (mula) of suffering is found in greed, aggression (whether by the state, organisation or individual) and delusion (transference and projections onto self and other).
The violence of the state, and the support for it, comes from the desire for violence of a sufficient number of individuals in society identified with certain views, as well as acquiescence from those who keep quiet on such matters of deep concern. We should not hesitate to criticise openly our government, and other governments, for the perpetuation suffering.
We also witness today the growing application and widespread use in the Middle East of the Dahiya Doctrine, essentially a concept to apply widespread destruction as a means of deterrence http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahiya_doctrine
I am currently writing an 8000-word essay on The Buddha and War. There is not a single discourse where the Buddha gives support to war. He holds leaders accountable. He engages in direct criticism of any authority that supports war. He criticises religious teachers who refuse to make judgements about war, whether a so-called just war or holy war. He offers a radically different approach to human conflict that addresses equally the inner life and the outer life. He encourages inquiry into the causes and conditions for war and conflict. These causes and conditions for war include fear, blame, humiliation, deprivation, occupation, consumerism and injustice.
Wars end when we change the causes and conditions for war.
MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE IN PEACE
MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE IN HARMONY
MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE IN PEACE AND HARMONY