Last week we published a guest blogpost titled, London’s Burning: The Three Fires and the London Riots,  by Alex Gooch, a language teacher, freelance writer, and Buddhist practitioner.  The post addresses possible causes and conditions behind the London riots. Throughout Gooch’s piece and in the discussion that follows, several people write that the riots are a product of great societal imbalance and injustice. One community member writes,

Our western societies have a disease, and this is consumerism as the holy grail. There is so much that needs to be changed in our attitudes, but we have a terribly broken system. We are promoting greed, as you say. We’ve got it all backwards. The dysfunction is so systemic, it feels like the edifice needs to come crashing down before it can ever change. I feel for those negatively impacted by the violence. No one is immune from the changes going on.

Another member writes,

Here is another probable cause: The Western governments have broken the “rule of law” by refusing to indict the financiers who continue to fraudulently plunder our societies. The ruling class first broke the social contract and passed the costs on to everyone else through bailouts, Depression, austerity, and inflation. Just the other day, the Federal Reserve Board said it would continue to loan taxpayer money at no interest to powerful banks, which will then loan those trillions to the same taxpayers for over twenty per cent interest on their greed-inspiring credit cards.

Living in troubled times, it often appears that no matter what our intention or motivation is, no matter what practices and activism we engage in, that the societal forces that create pain and destruction are simply too powerful to change. Another community member writes,

Can we have true peace (inner or outer) without justice?

Can we (claim to) be nonviolent when the system we are all inextricably entangled in is itself violent?

In Buddhist traditions, it is commonly taught that the starting point is to work with one’s own mind and to live a principled life so that one can work to not perpetuate suffering and injustice. From this ground, one can practice skillful means, work to better the world, and address the many problems that are present. Yet the question is, How do we do this?

This blogpost is an invitation to community members to speak about the work they are doing. How do we transform the world? Can we?

How are you working to make the world a better place? What injustices of the world need to be addressed? What organizations need support? What organizations need to not be supported? Thank you for examining this question with us. We welcome your responses.


Image via donsutherland1 (Flickr)

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