The film ‘Selma’ commemorates a historical walk in 1965, a literal ‘movement’ led by Martin Luther King, Jr and company. It is about the makings of an ultimately successful protest march for equal voting rights of the blacks in North America. Some of the most thought-provoking lines mentioned were these – ‘”Don’t fight back” is a non-violent movement. Non-violence is not passive. It’s actually very strong.’ Indeed, it takes much strength to remain non-violent, especially when violence is inflicted onto oneself. It is all too easy to be weak by giving in to our destructive impulses, that offer perfect opportunities for enemies’ further destruction. This is why patience as a spiritual perfection is seen as an essential strength on the Bodhisattva path.
There is a scene of one of many provoked black men, who wanted to look for guns to retaliate against unneeded violence against their first peace walk. A reverend stops him, asking, ‘Hey, hey, hey, what do you need guns for?’ The angry man replies, ‘The Bible says “an eye for an eye,” reverend. I’m sick of this shit.’ The reverend says, ‘How many guns do you think they’ve got down there? That’s an entire army down there. What’ve you got? A couple of .32s? A .38? And how many of us you think they’re gonna kill in retaliation? With their 12-gauge pump-actions, their Colt automatics, their Remingtons, their helicopters, their tanks! We won’t win that way, and I ain’t talking about the Bible. I ain’t talking what’s right by God. I am talking facts. Cold hard facts! Now you take two of them, and they take 10 of us. No. We have to win another way.’
The (obvious) cherry-picking for making (common) sense aside, what if the numbers were on the side of the oppressed in terms of men and weaponry? The Buddha was instead clear with his anti-violent policies, as hardwired into the first of all moral precepts, which is against killing, that includes non-injury and non-harm in general. The Buddha was also anti-vengeance and anti-arms. It was also he who uttered the eternal law that ‘Hatred cannot be ceased by hatred; hatred can only be ceased by loving-kindness.’
Lesser known is that the Buddha was also explicit that there is no almighty, all-good, all-knowing godhead who creates and maintains sentient beings’ inequality, who demands more violence as an answer for violence. This message is perhaps especially relevant in this day, when military factions multi-national and so-called ‘isl_mic-national’ wreck terror and wage war between one another, spilling their violence to innocents worldwide.
As the Buddha said in the Bhuridatta Jataka (453), ‘He who has eyes can see the sickening sight. Why does not Brahma [equivalent to notion of creator God] set his creatures right? If his wide power no limit can restrain [if he is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient], why is his hand so rarely spread to bless? Why are all his creatures condemned to pain? Why does he not to all give happiness? Why do fraud, lies, and ignorance prevail [if he is omni-benevolent]? Why triumphs falsehood — truth and justice fail?’ Us humans must awaken our natural conscience aligned to our peaceful Buddha-nature, to respond with universal compassion and wisdom; and no longer await any absent deity’s intervention.
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