August 20, 2009

Political Religion

It is generally accepted that the intermingling of the religious and the political is not always fortuitous. However, political protests led by Buddhist monks in Burma were received sympathetically in much of the world. The Dalai Lama’s position as both political and religious leader of the exiled Tibetan community is, largely, unquestioned. Certain situations seem to warrant, indeed demand, a sympathetic view of religious forays into politics.

In this light, news about the eviction of Thich Nhat Hanh’s followers from their monastery in Vietnam by the state police is particularly appropriate (if a little late). Hanh, who is well known for his criticism of the Vietnam War, has urged the Vietnamese government to “disband religious police.”

My question, then, is, “When is ‘religious intervention’ all right?” Should religious groups stand up to totalitarian regimes? And should the world protect them when they do?

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Vu Nguyen's picture

The answers to your questions can be extrapolated from the United Nations charters, declarations, and treaties, in particularly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for they content the evolving inspirations, aspirations, goodwill, dreams, and hope of global citizens and humanity. Now, on a separated issue:

Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh is well respected not only for his knowledge of Buddhist theology and philosophy, moral, ethics, writing, but also for his philosophy, social, cultural, and interfaith skills and knowledge. But most importantly, he is respected for living the way he preaches. Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh have stood up and been a friend of the poor, vulnerable, and voiceless out of justice, caring, duties, responsibilities, loving-kindness, and compassion. Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh and his organization are friends of Vietnamese (of global citizens) people, Vietnamese government, and VietNam.

Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh could spend hi time abroad writing books, give lectures/seminars, and organize retreats to better his fame and fortune. However, his team chose to give and dedicate their time, financial, and efforts in supporting and in solidarity with the Vietnamese people could be out of loving-kindness, caring, compassion, duties, responsibilities, humanitarian, empathy, charity, and unity. Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh knew and understood Vietnamese social, political, and cultural well. Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh and his team know the situations best since they are the ones entangled with the circumstances at the time. Their actions or reactions could be out of good intentions, loving-kindness, caring, responsibilities, compassion, or conscience. Hopefully, the Vietnamese government will have the understanding, empathy, and goodwill to overlook the incident and to resolve the situation in friendly, noble, good will, and admirable ways for the benefits of all.

Jaime McLeod's picture

"To claim to be apolitical or neutral in the face of such injustices would be, in actuality, to uphold the status quo - a very political position to take, and on the side of the oppressors"

-Sister Helen Prejean

arunlikhati's picture

Obviously it's best when it fits my worldview ;)