ALL LIVES ARE SACRED : A plea for peace & reconciliation in Bangkok

Thailand (formerly “Siam”) is the only country to declare in its constitution that Buddhism is its national religion.  (It is commonplace for boys there to ordain as monks as their rite of passage into manhood.)  Little wonder the monastics are concerned with the unrest in  their land.

I cannot speak first-hand.  I’ve read The New York Times’ backgrounder and reports.  This week, Agence France-Presse (AFP) published a moving piece featuring the monks’ prayer for peace.

Today, the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) published a vital public statement (as follows) :

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ALL LIVES ARE SACRED

A plea to put an end to massive killing in Bangkok

Since the beginning of the demonstration by the United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), aka “Red Shirts,” on 12 March 2010, there have been many hundreds of casualties. In the past five days, attempts to disperse the demonstration in Ratchaprasong have become been violent, with a further effect of provoking violence. The government’s actions have so far failed to deter the demonstrators.

The present clash of political views is one of the great crises in Siam’s modern history. The country was previously acclaimed for settling conflict peacefully and democratically. Now it appears that both sides, the government and the UDD, are clinging to an illusion of victory over another.  The entire nation is hostage to their conflict. Buddhist wisdom is relevant for those absorbed in hatred, greed and delusion. The Dhammapada, Verse 201, says:

Victory breeds hatred, for the conquered is unhappy.
Persons who have given up both victory and defeat, the contented, they are happy.

The International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), representing a diversity of socially engaged Buddhists from around the world, is gravely concerned about this standoff. We wish for all parties address the conflict with reason and tools of peace, to recognize the ancient Buddhist wisdom that neither the so-called winner nor loser will be contented and happy. We encourage those who do not fall into one of the two camps can help this process wherever possible.  Only through peaceful negotiation and dialogue can all parties concerned return the country to its true nature as a flourishing democracy and a peace-loving nation.

Our heartfelt plea is for both parties to stop any act that may cost lives and injuries;  to reclaim the time-tested wisdom of reconciliation and nonviolence.

Whenever INEB can help bridge the gap between the opposed parties we are willing to do all that we can.

We trust that in the light of upcoming international Vesakh celebrations in Thailand, supported by the United Nations 22-26 May 2010 and the subsequent local Vesakh celebrations, commemorating the birth, enlightenment and the passing away of the Lord Buddha, all parties will unite in taking responsibility for their conduct and for bringing about lasting peace, transformation towards social justice and shared wellbeing for future generations.

To close, in Verse 5 of the Dhammapada the Buddha proclaims:

Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By love alone is hatred appeased. This is an eternal law.


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