Friday, August 1, 2014

Horror in Gaza

A Palestinian man carries the lifeless body of a child to an emergency room
at Shifa hospital in Gaza City last week. 
(Credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)
I have sat in mute horror over the past several weeks watching the death tolls rise in Gaza. Civilians are being murdered by rocket fire. I feel physically sick at the knowledge that my tax dollars fund this atrocity, and that my government not only sits passively because of long-held political alliances, but actually condones this inhumanity.

Despite Buddhism's unanimous commitment to peace and nonviolence, I see very little response from the Western Buddhist community. I don't understand this at all. Some argue that Buddhism should remain a-political, solely dedicated to helping people awaken; that it's influence does not (or should not) extend to the sphere of politics.

I see that as a luxury afforded to people who live in a country not immediately threatened by the very violence it endorses. It is indifference disguised as equanimity, laziness in the guise of wisdom.

Even Zen groups dedicated to promoting peace sit idly by, mute as Buddha statues, more concerned with sitting meditation retreats than addressing the gross violation of human rights and mass murder occurring in Gaza.

Innocent people are being murdered. Period. Schools and hospitals are being bombed, for crying out loud!

Where is the outrage in the Western Buddhist community? Why are followers of the Buddha--a man who literally sat in the path of an army in order to prevent war!--silent about this? Why are we more interested in sitting Zen retreats at World War II death camps than preventing more senseless death occurring at this very moment?

These are important questions that need addressing. If Western Buddhism, now beyond its infancy stage, is to fully mature, it must transcend its own self-preoccupation and address the needs of the world.

Innocent people are being killed with U.S. tax dollars. The time for silence has passed. We have meditated long enough. Now is the time to act.


  1. Thank you. I have searched on-line for Western Buddhists responses to the atrocities in Gaza and have found virtually nothing until I came upon your website. Your article expresses exactly how I feel.

  2. What astonishes me the most is that even very vocal, liberal Buddhist bloggers have been relatively silent on this issue.

  3. I believe a beautiful example of "right action" was expressed this morning by the students in Peshawar who returned AFTER the Taliban had attacked their school to defy the violence, defy the fear, and demonstrate they loved education and peace MORE. These children are very brave teachers to me.