Buddha would not approve

I am far from an enlightened citizen but through this class, I am gaining momentum in my quest to gain political savvy. Embarrassingly enough Burma was not a country that was present in my daily conversations before a week ago but has now found it’s way into my my stream of consciousness when thinking about global politics. This is party because of my fascination with Buddhism. At the center of the this suppression of the Muslim Royhinga is a group of “Buddhist extremists” which, to me, is an oxymoron to my in itself. Since my introduction to Buddhism in high school, I have been drawn to many of the basic principles of the religion and especially the constant discussion of mindfulness. Thich Nhat Hanh was the first modern day Buddhist figure that I was introduced to and his book “Be Free Where You Are” is one of the only books that was on a required reading list for a class that I recommend to everyone I know. Check this guy out (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtZtR9BKDYk ). What strikes me as the most shocking in this conflict is the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism center on the alleviation of suffering. The Buddhist World Leaders responded to this conflict citing where this extreme group is going against the foundation of the religion (http://www.tricycle.com/blog/world-buddhist-leaders-response-growing-ethnic-violence-against-muslims-myanmar). Needless to say, these actions taken against the Royhinga would be considered the opposite of Enlightenment.

When thinking of news that I see at night on TV or read about online, there are advertising principles at play in encouraging viewers or readership. Playing up the “villain figures” while further victimizing the “good guys” is essential to giving a storyline in the news that interpersonal feel. It has been years that the Royhinga have been experiencing dehumanizing beaches upon their rights as well as violence from this group of Buddhist extremists and I think some of the American lack of knowledge about this issue is a result of this “story” competing for air time against tragedies that involve groups such as ISIS. Attention must be paid not only by US citizens but also world populations which involves following stories that feature a different group as a “villain” than the ones we are used to seeing. This would include 1) admitting the west loves to “type cast” even in our news stories and 2) letting go of those knee jerk assumptions that have been culturally constructed. Something to hope for.

-Caroline

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