In response to the results of unbridled capitalism, banksters, austerity, exploitation of workers and the unfair distribution of wealth, there is clearly a growing global movement that is shifting towards the left, seeking a fairer, compassionate and responsible world.
The rise of the likes of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn is testament of the zeitgeist which the elites and the traditional media are desperately trying to stop, but failing. They may attempt to misrepresent and disparage these men, but the people are waking and can see beyond these crude smear tactics. The people can see that the world has been unfairly rigged in favour of the few, and they want real change and they want it now.
There will be those who scoff at such notions, holding onto redundant social structures. But, the inevitability and necessity for change will soon become apparent, even to those whose heads remain deeply imbedded in the ground. A much better, healthier world can be created for ALL.
I am a Buddhist and I take my practice very seriously, albeit with a chuckle at the absurdity of the world. I spent many years studying Tibetan Buddhism, and now I have a Zen Master in my adopted home of Japan, where I have lived for 18 years. I count many Burmese monks as friends and teachers.
Frankly, I feel extremely saddened by some of the choices that SOME of our Burmese Sangha have made. I realise the complexities and frustrations that exist in Burma, and that inevitably they have a way of boiling to the surface, when given a chance. But, we Buddhists, especially the Sangha, must adhere as closely as possible to the Buddha’s teachings, demonstrating Metta (loving-kindness) to ALL. If we don’t do so, and we engage in activities which result in suffering and violence, in what way can this be considered correct Buddhist practice? We must be better than that.
I have always viewed my work as a human rights and Free Burma activist, to be very much entwined with my practice as a Buddhist. All my efforts are done with an intention of compassion. Often, I am asked why I am involved in Burma, and I explain that it is simply that I want the children of a very dear Burmese friend, to have the opportunities that he didn’t have. Of course, I could just walk away, and certainly, my life would be much easier, but that is not the Buddhist thing to do.
I dream of a day when all the peoples of Burma are free of the suffering that this hideous regime has inflicted. We may disagree from time to time, but I encourage calm and free dialogue, so that we can build a road together which leads to a Burma we all wish to see.
“An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King Jnr.
Throughout the world, great injustice and suffering is being perpetrated with impunity. Rather than be divided, we must bring ALL our communities together and join hands in solidarity, speaking loudly and clearly that WE will NEVER tolerate or permit any crime that impinges on the human rights of any individual.
Apathy towards fighting for what is right is the excuse of the lazy and the disengaged, who fail to fully comprehend how precious, fortunate and fragile their sense of security is.
If you can pass through life without becoming a victim of state brutality, prejudice, poverty, conflict, hunger and disease, you are blessed. Just don’t take your good fortune for granted, whilst turning away from the suffering of others.
Capitalism right now is a rigged game, where only a few have the privilege to write and rewrite the rules in whatever way suits them. As their wealth increases, and they buy themselves into the politicians’ pockets, the rest of us see social benefits in health, education and welfare stripped down, salaries reduced, bills increasing, fears growing and many families unable to adequately feed themselves.
I have no problem with the idea that if you work hard, then you should be rewarded. However, I do have a problem with individuals driven merely by an unquenchable, psychotic thirst for money, who place higher value on greed than compassion for their fellow humans. I have a problem with those of limited talent, but due to birthright, are allowed unfettered privilege. I also have a problem with individuals who are paid millions and millions of dollars in pay-offs and bonuses, whilst smirking and sneering at the rest of us, as we are exploited, sold-out and perennially broke. I despise that those who almost destroyed the global economy, neither see jail cells nor are reprimanded, but instead see their wealth grow on the back of our misery; misery they helped to create. Worst of all, are the scum who find profit in wars.
All I wish to see are mechanisms that are fairer, compassionate and allow for a more even distribution of wealth. The sooner this unbridled capitalism becomes aware that, just like tooth fairies, there is no such thing as sustainable, infinite exponential growth, the sooner we can reel things back in, protect the planet, end poverty and raise sustainably the living standards to a level better for all.
When I was young, I had fanciful notions that perhaps, one day on earth, world peace could be achieved. Now that I am mature, I recognise the value of contrasting ideas. Indeed, contrasting ideas are the fuel of any civilisation. As Hegel was aware, it is in the conflict of a thesis versus an antithesis, the fruition of synthesis (new ideas) are born. Thankfully, most can have conflict of thoughts that go no further than just argumentative discourse. However, the most extreme expression of opinions is war.
The reality is that for civilisation to continue being vibrant, progressive and dynamic, in contrast to being sterile, stagnant and uniformed, expressions of rebuke and rebellion, including war, are an inevitable part of the human condition. It doesn’t mean I like it, but rather I accept it. The Universe is both a place of great beauty and great violence, and we are an inseparable part of this equation. Like a river, there will always be times of calm and turbulence, varying in length and intensity.
As that may be, I find it worthwhile to try to contribute in whatever way, towards encouraging positions of peace, calm and non-violence, in an attempt to quell unnecessary suffering and conflict. There is always an alternative to violence, and those heated by passion and anger, must be reminded so. No blood need be drawn for any ideological posture we uphold. We must ALL hold paramount the sanctity and quality of ALL life, even with those we disagree with.