For the past few days I’ve watched the discussions of many members of the Buddhist community in the United States, Canada and Europe about events happening in Burma regarding the persecution of a particular Muslim minority. Like all situations of oppression and persecution there are many nuances and complexities that are often lost in the media. History, colonialism, geography, group loyalties, language, culture, tribalism, economics, politics and religion are some of the primary factors within such complexity.
It was suggested that a statement from this self-assembled Buddhist group be forthcoming on the issue.
I am one who thinks stating one’s position on an issue is a good idea, particularly if that issue involves oppression and asymmetrical power relationships. A few concerns cropped up for me initially, in that it can be a delicate thing for a primarily well-off, primarily white, primarily male group to condemn events in which they are not directly involved half-way around the world. You know what I mean…imperialism and all that jazz.
Fortunately initial impulses gave way to broader context and more reasoned thought and the document signed and released covered the broader spectrum of Islamophobia in general. It also did not focus exclusively on events in Asia but brought some amount of cultural self-scrutiny along with it.
This is a good joint effort and kudos to the group for taking a public position.
The document is available here: