Friday, September 12, 2008

Are the nonviolent struggles of Buddhists in Tibet and Burma promoting peace in other areas of the world?

From the Slate article, the question arises:
Are the nonviolent struggles of Buddhists in Tibet and Burma promoting peace in other areas of the world? These struggles obviously have not gone unnoticed on the international scene or here in D.C. where vigils and protests have been held over the past year. Now the Dalai Lama has become probably the most famous world religious leader in his campaign for support of Tibet and, along with the struggles of his people, sparked a popular interest in Buddhism. Many Buddhists criticize the Dalai Lama for becoming a media spectacle and an object of consumerism, but maybe this really is an efficient strategy for disseminating the story of nonviolence that is Tibet. Consumerism is not really the Dalai Lama's fault anyway, and picking up Buddhism from the internet or a bookstore is really not as superficial as it may sound to many practicing Buddhists. I speak from personal experience when I say that buying a popular book about Buddhism and reading about Buddhism online can transform inner violence: no doubt, I would not be writing this message otherwise.

It is important to remember that, as I indicated, Tibet and Burma are not just tragedies of violent oppression, but also examples of nonviolence in action. We must thank those who uphold nonviolence as an end in and of itself and not merely a strategy to be discarded when it fails to conquer the oppressors, for, like Jesus when he forgave the Romans on the cross, they are role-models for humankind. This so-called nonviolence should not come only in the form of negation, but as an affirmation.

Contributing to the popular influence of the events are media that increasingly portray this aspect of affirmation alongside that of the negative: CNN's show "Buddha's Warriors" gave air to a monk who had been clubbed on the head by police. "How do you respond to that?" asked the interviewer. "Respond with love," he answered.

And now it is our turn to respond to this message with a love of our own in support: here is the cycle of love and compassion upheld by principled nonviolence. Can we devise any more strategies to improve the efficiency of delivering this message?

1 comment:

Luella said...

Just found this article about the role of the internet and blogging in revolution in Burma:,5148,0,0,1,0