Monday, August 05, 2013

violence and Buddhism

There have been a slew of articles asking interesting questions. The first one I saw was Raymond Ibraham's questioning of why the Muslims in Myanmar are getting no criticism, why do we assume that the Buddhists are over reacting? The Economist notes that conflict between Muslims and Buddhists is escalating. M. Sophie Newman asks if Buddhist are opposed to self defense? Bombs are going off in Buddhist sacred sites.  Michael Jerryson is a scholar of Buddhist violence and people accuse him of being anti-Buddhist even though he is a historian. I have even written a blog post about the hope of peace.

I'm not sure what to make of it. Does might make right? Is life just an eye for an eye? I hope for something different, but I also want to keep my eyes open and see what's really going on.

I remember when I would visit my father. He lived in a town that was a days bus ride away. I would go for holidays occasionally and for some time in the summer. He married a woman who had 3 daughters. I was older. The oldest daughter was used to being in charge. So the first half of the visit she would challenge my authority, and the second half, she would like having an older brother.

One visit, she was intent on challenging my commitment to non-violence by hitting her sisters, and seeing what I would do. The only thing that would stop her was to whack her back. So she exposed my lack of commitment to non-violence. I was willing to use violence to stop violence.

Now that's an artificial setup, and I'm not saying that's what going on in Myanmar. But what if the only response is violence. Tit for tat is the second best strategy. The best occasionally throws in some good, just to break any cycles, because if everyone is tit for tat, then the cycle of violence never ends. I can't remember where I read that stuff, but I believe in it to a certain level. I think often though, it's better to not strike back. The annoying thing with being more evolved, is that you overlook annoying and upsetting things because striking back won't solve any thing. Communication is the best way to resolve differences. And that's what peace workers do, they open dialogues and work to resolve conflict through communication and negotiation.

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