Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Day of the Demagogue

Ordinarily, this is not a subject I would care to address...

But, in a world where safe and satisfied hate-mongers are getting airplay while frontline  aid workers attempting to assist victims of Pakistan's devastating floods are being murdered by extremists -- well, perhaps you will excuse me just this once.

Demagogues have been with us since day one, and ideological intolerance is by no means confined to any one polity or religion. 

Just this past week, Buddhists in Leh beat a blind teacher for attempting to convert others to Christianity. So, I don't think any of us can feel wholly entitled to claim the high ground just yet.
Nevertheless, when we have such a clear example of moral failure set before us as that of the man in Florida, pretending to be some sort of pastor, who wants to boost sales of his own book by burning the Qur'an -- in such circumstances as these, you come to understand why certain people feel compelled to commit the outrages they commit. They believe their very faith to be under assault, as indeed it appears to be.

This man is not burning a book; rather, he is pouring gasoline on an already burning fire. Those who engage geopolitically in the Islamic regions have already called him to account for his actions, and rightly so. By his irresponsible behavior, this man in Florida is placing not only military and peace-keeping personnel in harm's way, but international humanitarian aid workers as well. His conduct is just disgraceful, and he embarrasses all Americans.

However, while it is easy to say "tsk, tsk" and point fingers at this man -- or his counterparts in every one of the world's other religions -- it is not so easy to look within ourselves and find the origin of this thinking. That, I believe, is what we need to do -- to look at ourselves as human beings, and discover what it is that gives rise to this sort of thing. If enough of us are able to do this, then perhaps the day of the demagogue will pass. 

The origin is fear.

Fear's origin is, I think, a fit subject for Buddhists to examine.

So is a reasoned and compassionate response to the ignorance of religious extremism -- our own, or that of others -- and the horror that it inevitably brings.

We are not here to police each other, punish each other, or proscribe each other.

We are here to be kind.

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7 reader comments:

Anonymous said...

In light of the terrible actions of this pastor in Florida, can you eventually post some information on the Kalachakra prophecies - exact translations including original source material - or links thereto on the internet - that I have been told relate to the future of this planet generally and Islam's rise in particular?

It is important to keep accurate track of religious crimes against humanity, and although no religion is of course completely innocent, Islam is racking up quite an impressive statistical history as evidenced on this non-profit site that keeps track of terrorist attacks for example:

What can we do in the face of such evidence of atrocities happening daily around the world to help bring peace?

Nightprowlkitty said...

This is a tough one!

It's easy to say "oh that person is my teacher," (e.g., the fellow whose picture you posted) and although that is true enough, when the "teachers" multiply so rapidly that one is facing many of them, that view is, at least for me, very difficult to hold.

The middle way, because the attraction to that kind of drama can be as strong as the aversion to hatred.

Thank you for this post. I am confronting this "lesson" in my political blogging at this time.

Anonymous said...

How do we deal though with a religion (Islam) that clearly calls for the death of adulterers, those who choose to leave it, actively persecutes and calls for the killing of sexual orientation minorities, and often has no tolerance for other religions? Dharma cannot even exist in many Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia. This is spoken of in scriptures such as Lama Tsong Khapa's Lam Rim.

Anonymous said...

As the so called religion of peace (islam) is nothing but a veil for jihad it would not be very Buddhist to let them continue with their schemes that lead to increasing suffering in the world. Piercing wisdom is needed here to uncover this. Tolerance to intolerance is imho not the way.

Jehanne Lily said...

This man is guilty of greed, pride, delusions, and ego run amok. Any person (or persons) who take a path that will ultimately harm others lives in landfill of solid delusional negative karmas. Take for example that Wikileaks founder. He is willing to sacrifice others lives to have his 15 minutes of fame and feelings of exagerated self-importance. We Buddhists are human, after all, and make mistakes as others do, however, we also try "not to" a lot harder than others do. I am not dismissing what this man is doing because it is very foolish and the unintended consequences of his actions will no doubt be fatal to others or even to him. The people who died 9 years ago this Saturday in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D. C. were sacrificed for the same reasons of delusions, self importance, greed and pursuit of power. What I am saying is that we, as humans, are just not evolved enough to understand the lessons of history and the reasons for life. Most of humanity (including me) has a world view that only extends a few feet from our own noses.

Anonymous said...

Montheism is the problem. Believeng that after one dies they will never experience suffering again. Do you think the taliban or American soliders believe they will ever see each other after they die? Monotheism is trully delusional.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. Polytheism is less delusional. Is that what you are claiming? And aren't most people delusional when it comes to describing their own earlier reincarnations? Men were always Napoleon. Women Cleopatra.