Tag: Media

Aung San Suu Kyi, please speak out and help to relieve the suffering in Burma

ImageThe fires of suffering and strife rage around the world,” and continue to rage in the Rakhine state of Burma. Recent sectarian strife between Arakanese Buddhists and the Rohingya Muslim community have claimed the lives of at least 78 people, and displaced over 80,000 fleeing from the violence. With the situation degenerating into a vicious cycle of hate begetting hate, it has come to light that some Buddhist monastics are actively engaged in fanning the flames by calling on lay people to disassociate with the Rohingya and actively blocking humanitarian aid to the refugee camps.

Shame on any monastics who would use their moral authority to suade others in enhancing suffering. While their Arakanese identity may compel them to act in ways that hurt others, they also wear the ochre robe and carry with it the freedoms and responsibilities of their monastic precepts. Their renunciation embodied by the first precept has now been made useless. By their own actions, these monastics demonstrate that they do not deserve to wear the ochre robe.

I realize that the situation is not so black and white. However, the Arakanese and Rohingya alike are sharing in pain. The face of suffering is the same among all people and the cycle of violence rings throughout history. In the late 1960’s, my parents, their families, and many of their Toisan community were driven away by the Burmese and fled into Maoist China. Though the conditions were not great, at least they had a state which would accept them as Han Chinese and would provide a home.

The Rohingya have no state advocates and have shuttled back and forth between Bangladesh and Burma for many decades. Burma’s Presidential Office has stated that “It is impossible for Burma to accept people who are not ethnic to the country and who have entered illegally.” Their situation grows more desperate as the violence continues, as more people are displaced, and as more languish in camps without the infrastructure or supplies to support them. Organizations that have stood up for the Rohingya include the UN and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation. Unfortunately, as the violence continues, the Rohingya’s list of advocates now include the Pakistani Taliban, who have said, “We will avenge your blood.”

Aung San Suu Kyi, in your Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, you acknowledged the ongoing strife in your native Burma. We all celebrate your release and your continued work for democracy in your country. This means that you are again a politician for your constituents: speaking on their behalf, and sharing their concerns. Your freedom to speak as you choose is also delicately tied to the whims of a state still emerging and fragile in its transition towards democracy. Nevertheless, the moral authority you possess reaches across national boundaries as we lend you our ears. Please speak out. Your voice as a mediator are needed in this conflict. Lend your compassion with the humanitarian aid organizations  and help to relieve the suffering in Burma.

The Wise Latina depicted by The Lazy Americans

I’ve been meaning to write a post for the longest time but gosh darn it, life just gets busier and never seems to give you a break. Well, the academic year has just ended so I’m given a few days to breathe before diving straight into my summer plans. While reading through Google Reader, I came across a post on the Angry Asian Man website that just left me…well speechless:

nationalreview_thewiselatina

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Times are Changing – and so should Buddhists

One of my recent general observations about religion is that its role in the lives of the younger generation has been deteriorating. While I do not have the numeric data that my fellow blogger arunlikhati is so skilled in collecting to support my claim (I tried to sort out some PEW stats but gave up…), I think many readers will agree with my claim just through each of their personal experiences with the youth, namely children up until high school. I am well aware that this is not the case for all youth and each of us can easily come up with children who do hold their faith close to their hearts. However, I do think that in a society where people share their latest thoughts and status with Facebook and Twitter more often than God, where money and power have become society’s determining factor for success rather than morality, and where Miley Cyrus has become a more influential icon for children than most religious figures, religion certainly has much more competition nowadays especially in finding a place among the youth.

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Nickelodeon Featuring the Dharma

Okay, I admit the title of this post is not quite accurate. Actually, it should read “Nickelodeon Featuring the Avatar”.

Since 2005, Nickelodeon has featured an animated series called Avatar the Last Airbender, airing three seasons and winning an Emmy Award in American animated television series. Originally tageted twoards 6-11 year olds, this show has gained popularity among many outside the age bracket – including me. What I find most intriguing about Avatar is that it features a main character, a child monk named Aang, who adheres to Buddhist principles and even talks about basic Buddhist ideas such as forgiveness, nonviolence, and attachment. Though Nickelodeon never directly refers to Buddhism, the fact that one of the most popular and widely watched networks targeted towards children features a hero that succeeds in his journey based upon Buddhist concepts is amazing. I applaud Nickelodeon for producing this show and encourage anyone interested after reading this post to watch it for themselves. 

WARNING: this post MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS for those of you who have not watched all three seasons of Avatar. Read more

CNN: Buddha’s Warriors

Thanks to The Worst Horse, I decided to stay in last night and watch CNN Special Investigations Unit: Buddha’s Warriors. The show looks like a test run for God’s Warriors, a potentially more touchy subject about religious extremists from Christian, Jewish and Muslim perspectives.

Buddha’s Warriors focused on contemporary stories of political oppression and resistance in Tibet and Burma (Myanmar). These are two societies which are predominantly Buddhist, and so Christiane Amanpour asks: “How do people who are committed to love, kindness and nonviolence confront severe political oppression?”

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Popular Buddhist Media

While a lot of Buddhist popular media is emerging, like Buddhist Pop Songs, Buddhist Movies, and even Buddhist Videogames, and I find a lot of it very interesting, sometimes it sort of hits the wrong note.

I think one of the reasons why that is is because Buddhism is very much not about Buddhism. It is not an umbrella where a bunch of other stuff fits underneath it, but instead is a handful of practices and perspectives that looks at the stuff under the umbrella.

I think that any sort of sincere popular Buddhist media would have to be much more holistic, taking a Buddhist perspective amid a variety of others. That being said, I am reminded of the webcomic Sinfest [ironically enough], where the Buddha is an occasional character – used seldomly but to great effect.

Sometimes the creator, Tatsuya Ishida, hits just the right note.