No Place to Hide

A recent video suggested that Buddhists are uncaring, that they are taught to abhor family values, which are forms of ‘attachment’. The video ended with the statement that the main reason for such a sorry state of affairs in Asian values, is simply that they have not heard the truth – and provides a way to donate money to the Christian cause.
The video caused some consternation amongst Buddhists who felt (rightly) misrepresented. Perhaps that is why is was taken down and no longer available….

Yet the summary and sweepeing statements made are nothing unnusual, nor of an extreme that you won’t find Buddhists, or other ‘Asian’ based traditions claiming about ‘Western’ religions.

But to answer the question – does ‘non-attachment’ mean you will have no love for anyone, especially your family?

How does the following summary of what ‘family’ means measure up?

You are at your most real in a family – at your most angry, at your most loving, at your most suffocated, at your most motivated. You can’t be fully selfish in a family. You want to be, often, but in the end it drags you back to your need for and your commitment to the company of others. In the family there are few hidden spaces, few facets of character, good or bad, that lie undiscovered, few delusions and even fewer fantasies. There are many glimpses of the best and the worst of the human being.

Seems pretty universal really. The author continues:

In the end, most important of all, you have to forgive the trespasses in order that yours too can be forgiven. And just occasionally, you spy the essential strength that the family represents, and realise it is a marvel of human achievement and for all its shortcomings, anxieties and tensions, greatly to be cherished.

These lines were written by Tony Blair in his memoir ‘My Journey’. A convert to Catholicism, he actually spends much of his time and energy on faith, studying other religions, and interfaith dialogue. His summary of what family means to a human being, cuts across religious divides.

Religion is a tool for your own progress, not a tool to compare and compete between beliefs.

About Cittasamvaro

Auto blogography of an urban monk
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11 Responses to No Place to Hide

  1. billzant says:

    Perhaps this is not appropriate for this blog but I have a problem seeing past Iraq even though you talk about his “spend(ing) much of his time and energy on faith, studying other religions, and interfaith dialogue. His summary of what family means to a human being, cuts across religious divides.” Does he denounce his role in the carnage in his book?

    • Cittasamvaro says:

      He talks at length on Iraq. One thing I got from it was I did not (and still don’t) know even a smattering of the facts. Not becasue they are hidden, but because there was just so much to consider. Blair asks in the book that you consider the evidence as it was available at the time, and understand that there was a lot more to it than the media presented. He doesn’t ask for you to agree with him, or justify his position – but shows some of what the thoughts/evidences were, which led to him making the call. It was not nearly so cut and dry as we like to think. And besdies, he met face to face with so many families which had lost sons and daughters, Iraqi, British and US. He certainly was not blind to what was going on. I have to say the book is very nice. Humerous in places, clear, and you get a deep sense for his successes and failures, and the aweful and awsome nature of the job. A recommended read.

  2. billzant says:

    Bhante, thanks for your response. I too have a very limited understanding of the facts, but going into Iraq, primarily to support the interests of big business in my view, was morally wrong – as is going into Libya. Once there supporting the interests of the families concerned changes the political position, although not the original moral one. Much of the evidence was sought for by the Blair government, we want to go in how can we justify it?

    I cannot comment on the book, and despite what you say I am unlikely to read it. To begin with Blair was Mr Plausibility. I do not have the day-to-day knowledge to dispute that plausibility but he is a politician; for some politicians plausibility is a tool of the trade, for how many politicians is sila?

  3. billzant says:

    An afterthought. I don’t know whether this is current, but isn’t one of his many jobs consultant to the West on Middle East affairs?

  4. Cittasamvaro says:

    para-phrasing….
    The moral case for the war was the clearest part of the case. This was not western bullies forcing themselves on an innocent population for self gain. 600 000 Iraqis had dies in the war with Iran. 100 000 Kurds killed in ethnic cleansing. 50 000 dead in supression of the Shia, and 100 000 in political killings. When Saddam got to power the country was richer than Portugal or Malasia; by 2003 60% of the population was dependent on food aid. Millions were malnourished, and in 2002 child mortality (under 5 yrs) had risen to 130/1000. In 2007, as a result of the ally’s programs, the figure had dropped to 40/1000. Remember that under the sanctions regime, Saddam was offered as much food as he wanted in the food-for-oil deal. 2/3 of the deaths of the whole war were sectarian killings via terrorism sponsored by Iran and al-Qaeda – both Sunni and Shia foreign interests were the ones trying to destabilise the area via terrorism.

    I don’t doubt the moral justification for going to Iraq. The question is can Western powers who have the capacity to step in rightly call it ‘Someone Else’s Problem’ (Blair answers ‘no’). Is Saddam’s record of using massive chemical weapons ok, because he was killing Iranians? What about other countries like Burma, N. Korea …

    Blair reckoned on 2 salient questions. Is it morally right to intervene, and can it be successful. He has been pretty unswerving on the support of strong military intervention capacity for Europe. He calls this the ‘hard’ arm – but has always insisted on the ‘soft’ arm too, that of endless negotiation for peaceful settlement.

  5. billzant says:

    Your arguments (I presume Blair’s figures) look very convincing, however I have no idea how true they are – I am certainly unable to counter them. I would not expect to be able to counter them, the amount of government resources available to create these figures is far vaster than anything I am able to deal with. But I trust my assessment far more than I would trust a book written by someone with a vested interest, this war was a continuation of a pattern of neocolonial interventions. I wasn’t in the UK at the time but I recall an early poll that said less than 30% of British people wanted to go to Iraq. Whether the government agrees with this result or not, under a democracy no further action should have been taken.

    The decision for intervention lies with the indigenous people of the country concerned and not some decision from outside. Or alternatively it lies with the United Nations (this is the someone else whose problem it is), properly supported by all western countries so that they can be neutral – as opposed to being held to ransom by the US. To solve world problems decisions need to be made in a properly-constituted and properly-funded democratic body. Why the UN doesn’t work is because of so-called democratic countries.

    Why wasn’t Saddam removed from office after defeat in the first Gulf War? The US and UK took the moral high ground then when they went in – ignoring UN votes, and I recall a figure of over 200,000 Iraqis killed by target bombs – I was active in demonstrating against that war so clearly recall the figure although not the source. I could understand you questioning the figure. The western allies left the perpetrator of the invasion of Kuwait in charge of Iraq. Why? And were they fighting for democracy? No democracy followed in Kuwait, the power was left with Sheikhs – the dictators.

    Why did the West fund Iraq in the earlier war against Iran?

    “This was not western bullies forcing themselves on an innocent population for self gain.” First of all it is not for self-gain, it is for the gain of oil corporations. You or I might self-gain from moral satisfaction at saving lives if that happened, but is that government purpose?

    When you look at where the west steps in, they step into Middle eastern conflicts with the common denominator of oil. Do they step into conflicts with human rights issues elsewhere in the world? Especially in Latin America how often were the dictatorships propped up by western money?

    Having political arguments is very difficult as they depend so much on personal perspective, ours are clearly very different. Nowadays justification for war occurs in the media where there is so much disinformation. People who become global politicians do not do so because they are absolute fools, they have become leaders by using that media. Blair was one of the best performers.

    I am going to research counter-arguments to Blair’s figures – please advise if they are not his figures.

    • Cittasamvaro says:

      Well, I teach academic writing in University, and one thing I teach the students is “if you have already decided the answer you are looking for, IT ISN’T RESEARCH”

      There are two sides to every story. You said you will never read Blair’s side, as he is ‘Mr Plausibility’. You said you will not look at his figures, as his government ‘created’ them.

      Well there endeth any sensible discussion.

      As you ask, Blair does give the sources for the figures, as any good academic does. And I was, and remain firmly against the Iraq and Afganistan wars. I continue to question the legality of the wars, and justification for going into other countries. But I took the time to read Blair’s side, and accept there was a lot more to it than I could have known.

    • Cittasamvaro says:

      Blair’s figures, quoted with sources, vs your spurious figures without sources (you were into Education ??) ….
      Blair quotes the Milton Leienberg “Deaths in Wars and Conflicts in the 20th century’ paper from Cornell University, Peace Studies Program in putting the 1st Iraq war casualties at 75,000.

  6. billzant says:

    Your logic is very sound, I am not sensible. I am unwilling to believe a man who took the UK into war against the will of the people. I am unwilling to believe a man who worked within an alliance with the US in which there has been a history of neo-colonial activity including invasions. I am unwilling to believe a man who was in a coalition that has fought wars to backup the interests of the oil corporations. I am unwilling to believe a man who supervised sanctions over a country with a dictatorship knowing the dictator would not comply, and then use humanitarian reasons to justify a war, after the lies he had previously told had been found out (WMD). I am unwilling to believe the research that was “academically” obtained when the purpose of that research was to justify UK entry into the war. I am unwilling to believe the sources of that research when it is conceivable that the research was as a result of funding with the specific objective of justifying an invasion.

    I am willing to believe that a man who had become the leader of a neo-colonial country has the ability to deceive as part of his rationales in his desire to invade countries to support oil interests. I am willing to believe that any book Blair writes (or has written for him) could be propaganda to promote his business of which Middle East consultant to western interests is one. I am willing to believe as Pilger says that wars are now fought in the media (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article3997.htm), and such fighting has now become sophisticated. I know that I cannot see through such sophistications, that I can never have enough information to know when it is propaganda.

    The world of politics is not a level playing field. Business and Corporations have vast amounts of money to promote their interests through governments. I have an internet account. I accept that there are highly-trained academic people working for these corporate interests, and that I do not have the ability to counter their sophistication. But I can observe patterns. In Iraq now the country is devastated, a puppet government has been installed, and the US has control of the oil (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/jul/28/iraq.usa). In Afghanistan the country is also devastated and a puppet government has been installed favourable to the West. And in Libya I see a dictator who was inimical to the West being bombed in support of rebels who have expressed western alliance. When I see in these patterns western governments willing to back up oil corporations by any means at their disposal I don’t see why they would stop at media control through a book that could be full of lies and deceptions.

    In the end I read people who I have always found to tell me the truth. This appears to be a closed mind and lacking in sense, but it works for me because there are no inconsistencies. Corporate interest with their puppet governments will do anything to increase profits, this is the way of the world consistently – sensible or otherwise. I agree that any research I do would only support my position, of course Blair didn’t do that.

  7. billzant says:

    I looked but cannot find the source, I remember the figure only. Does that mean I am wrong?

    This article (http://www.post-gazette.com/nation/20030216casualty0216p5.asp ) discusses different figures of which 158,000, 205,000, 50,000 to 100,000, and military consensus 10,000 to 20,000. I of course am biased and believe the higher figures, precision bombing cannot possibly kill so many people?

    In research you get what you pay for.

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