It’s far easier to pronounce on breaking world events when there’s some first-hand connection with those events. On face value I have no obvious primary connection with the devastating situation unfolding in Gaza in particular. However as a practicing human being and one who appreciates the wisdom of Buddhism it’s hitting home hard on an emotional level. It leaves me wondering where the line of Buddhist tolerance should be drawn?
There’s an obligation not to fall fowl of moral relativism and to tell it as it is. Murder is murder whether perpetrated by the state of by individuals.
At a very high level these are two neighbours who if they found themselves dwelling next to each other on a housing estate would attract understandable condemnation for their acts of inhumanity towards each other. It simply would not be tolerated by the wider community or higher domestic authority.
The problem is that both sides have stopped dwelling in the here and now and rather seek to justify their actions by recourse to past events / timelines and the afterlife. Both sides invoke a higher authority and thereby project there human responsibility onto a deity figure. Both employ as their bedrock the original God of Abraham as their justification. Of course their closed mindedness, cultivated from many years of conflict, is not open to the possibility that they are more alike and share more history in common than divides them. Simply put they have a common ancestry and that can be expressed more positively, if the mind is open, in order to bind them in the here and now.
The world stands judged on the issue of Gaza as the largest open prison in the world and a place where inhumanity has been allowed to reign supreme and fester unchecked. What did the world think would happen if you place families (e.g. in Gaza) in a small geography area and cut them off economically and politically? The “haves’” have the power to take and the “have not’s” want a piece of the pie. At a base level it’s human nature to covet and want. Buddhism refreshingly teaches non attachment to material wealth. Both the peoples of Gaza and Israel deserve to be free from fear and to experience equality of opportunity. In the absence of basic freedom and human rights youth will lead the march and become radicalised and all societies, even our own here in the UK, has had to grapple with the dire consequences from a chasm in economic and politic inequality.
It strikes me that people act in these situations out of either fear or greed and these two debilitating negatives deny the human capacity for love and compassion by closing the mind off. Bad human qualities trump the good!
We are where we are in this conflict and youth with its warrior inclination has risen above the wisdom borne from longevity and its life time of human experience.
There are a few practical steps that can be taken in order to humanise the situation:
- Judge all acts of killing or genocide equally. No judgemental realivism.
- Accept that killing is wrong whether by individual or state.
- Let the past remain in the past and don’t let it become the master.
- Don’t allow anxieties about the future to become a dire self-professing outcome.
- Don’t let the act of not thinking about such events lead to the ascendency of hate and fear in the world.
- Focus on the present and ground yourself in the here and now.
- This is a worldly problem and a worldly solution needs to be found. Don’t fall into the pit of despair and thereby abrogate personal responsibility by projecting to a higher being.
- Take personal responsibility for personal / governmental / societal actions and again projecting elsewhere is a childlike act.
- Reduce rampant inequality in whichever way possible.
- The world needs to unite in order to make Gaza an economic success with a more equal division of material wealth.
- Stop the hypocrisy of selling arms to the combatants and then sending them aid when they use those arms against each other.
- If you think education is expensive then consider the cost of not educating people. The conflict in Gaza screams out “bad, partisan and very narrow education”.
- When hate knocks at the door expand your horizon of thought. That way hate is diminished.
It’s far braver to be a warrior of love and compassion, a warrior of the heart if you like, than to blindly follow the ignorance of hate and inhumanity.
For my part I feel a real deep sorrow for both sides and do sincerely hope that they can put their differences aside and to focus on what they have in common. They say that the best place to build a bridge over water is that place where the banks are closest. It’s time to build that bridge on firm foundations in this realm … The world needs to act now and each individual has a small part to play in that long process to reconciliation!!!