Boys with Guns
Eric, the Zen Traveler is just finishing up his tour of duty, I guess you could call it. He’s not a soldier, but an American contract employee in Baghdad. This from his post “Speechless”:
…At the end of the Festival of Eid all of the children receive presents, much like the Christmas tradition. You'll never guess what every little boy gets. TOY GUNS!!! This is wrong on so many levels. The streets are full of little kids pointing plastic AKs at everything and everyone. When I first witnessed this I was utterly mortified. …Homeless Monk
|Yuttadhammo as pictured from a detail of the banner atop The Truth is Within.|
|A detail from the nature picture that tops Dave's post.|
Environmentalist Dave Pollard is not a Buddhist, but Buddhism comes up now and again in his blog How to Save the World. Dave’s latest post is a long, beautiful essay called “What makes us care about nature?” A question he asks is whether it is necessary for us to experience important matters first hand -- do we have to be there? -- in order to understand and get involved. Perhaps Darfur, poverty, global warming and violence are too distant from us to relate “emotionally, viscerally.”
His beautiful, kind, hopeful post ends thusly:
As Daniel Quinn says … in Beyond Civilization:Buddhism and WarPeople will listen when they're ready to listen and not before. Probably, once upon a time, you weren't ready to listen to an idea than now seems to you obvious, even urgent. Let people come to it in their own time.Yet I think it is in all of us to listen, to hear the voice of all-life-on-Earth, to become a part, to reconnect, to fall under the spell of the sensuous. For twenty years I became deaf to it, it stayed inside me, waiting to re-emerge.
It is in our bones, our DNA. No experience required. We are who we are, and at heart we are all wild creatures, in love with this wild planet and every living thing within it. It is just a matter of time before each of us is ready to listen. Ready to come home.
I confess. I prompted it with an email. Justin Whitaker has posted "Buddhism and War" in his blog American Buddhist in England. In his post, the Buddhist Philosopher considers an online essay by Prof. P. D. Premasiri (University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka) that says, in the Theravada canon, there is no justification for war.
A second online essay, a response to the first, written by Justin’s advisor, Prof. Damien Keown (Goldsmith College, Univ. of London), says there is justification for use of force, even to the extent of a just war.
Justin finds no conflict between the two essays, but I think his argument tortured. Premasiri and Keown look at war from different vantages: The first, from the vantage of the individual Buddhist and his psychology or personal predicament. Keown looks at it from the vantage of society as a whole. Justin, it seems to me, is set on splitting the difference when he determines that only wholly defensive wars are justified.
I think that Buddhism and War is an important issue for us to consider with the ongoing war in Iraq, perhaps inevitably escalating into a civil war; wars and threats of wars elsewhere in the world; and the terrible and frustrating situation in Burma.
Whether we are wholly opposed to violence or support efforts in Just Wars meant to stop oppression, men and women (and children) are dying in our name, and are dying in ways and by means which we share responsibility for in this interconnected world. We have an obligation to learn what we can so that we will be informed during any effort we undertake to move the world in the direction of peace.
R A D I O H E A D
Scott Mitchell reviews Radiohead’s new album, In Rainbows, in the buddha is my dj. He writes about two tracks: “’Weird Fishes‘ has blown me away. … ‘Faust Arp’ has some beautiful combination of acoustic guitar, strings, and Thom York's ever-haunting voice that's going to deserve a second listen. Or a third.“ Of interest, if you download the album, you pay whatever you think is best.