Survival of the Kindest
I found David Loy’s article “In Search of the Sacred” (Spring 2017) very interesting and supportive of the notion that we must care for the world and all living beings and plants in order to survive ourselves. When Darwin is discussed, survival of the fittest is always emphasized, but one of his main postulates was “cooperation within a species” in order for that species to survive.
Remember the Refugees
I find it disturbing that in 99 percent of the articles I read about Bhutan, including the interview with Dr. Karma Phuntsho in the Spring 2017 issue (“Bhutan on the Brink”), the racism that led to the expulsion of more than 100,000 Bhutanese from the country in the past three decades in order to maintain ethnic and religious homogeneity is absent from the discussion. Surely the tens of thousands of Bhutanese refugees still living in camps in Nepal would like to be considered in any discussion of what’s wrong with Bhutan.
Thank you for writing to us about the plight of Bhutan’s refugees, an important concern that is, as Madeline Drexler wrote in “The Happiness Metric” (Fall 2014), “Oddly . . . more conversationally alive in the West than in Bhutan itself, where people have been kept in the dark about the painful events of that time.” While “Bhutan on the Brink” focused on other issues the Himalayan nation is currently facing, it is one that we have not shied away from covering in the past, nor will we in the future.
Buddhists on Brexit
It’s no surprise that Stephen Batchelor’s article “A Buddhist Brexit” (Spring 2017) engendered much online discussion. Following is a sampling of the various perspectives of our readers, which cover both Brexit itself and whether the dharma has a place in politics at all.
I can’t see any turning back or reconsideration of Brexit despite the financial and social uncertainty. While this is disheartening to those of us who enjoyed being EU citizens and particularly benefited from the sense of community, it is now something we have to accept with our understanding that things change. This is at the heart of the Buddhist path.
This is a time to turn towards our sense of angst and discomfort. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make our views known and remind our politicians that just under 50 percent of the country wanted to remain.
I voted for Brexit, and it had nothing to do with the common characterizations. I am a European, but that does not mean I believe in the EU, which has numerous benefits and worthy ideals but about which I have grave reservations. I accept but do not endorse capitalism and neoliberalism, ideologies the EU has often enthusiastically embraced to the detriment of low-income, working-class people. The EU’s tyrannical attitude toward countries almost destroyed by the financial crisis is an outrage against human dignity. I could continue at length about other issues, including interference in the sovereignty of member states or its vast dysfunctional bureaucracy.
None of these issues affects me, but I voted on behalf of those they do affect. I admit, it is easy to comprehend the Remain camp and understand their concerns and frustrations. It is harder to comprehend those who voted for simplistic or prejudiced reasons. But when will people acknowledge the underlying problem, the same problem that has afflicted Europe and America and is also the cause of extreme or ignorant political figures being elected? Economic injustice is everywhere, and a lot of people you don’t see or understand are suffering. They want change. Maybe they have lost hope in looking in the right places, maybe they are looking in the wrong places, but we do them no service by mocking and demeaning their concerns or intelligence.
I wish we could refrain from politicizing the sacred buddhadharma.
Buddhism has always been enmeshed in politics. It is only in the West that we have chosen to push politics away. It can’t happen any longer.
–Amy Starkey Praphantanathorn
Why is it considered to be a political statement, not dharma, to speak out against harm to specific groups?
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