Friday, November 19, 2004

Taking Sides

This last few days I've been reading blogs from soldiers fighting in Iraq. I've also been reading the comments on those blogs, and some related materials from people around the world. The recurring theme throughout those comments has been how polarised people seem to be in their views. They are either 'for' or 'against' the war, 'for' or 'against' the assault on Falluja.

People write as if it's entirely black and white .... the facts, they say, either show we are wrong to assault Falluja or they show we are right. Are things not vastly more complex than that, with all manner of things going on, all manner of motivations, actions and consequences? How can something this big ever be purely right or wrong?

Taking Falluja as an example, if the soldiers are sent in, then surely a multitude of seemingly good consequences and a multitude of seemingly bad consequences ensure? So many different people are affected in so many different ways, so many people act with so many different intentions, how could it be otherwise?

And if the soldiers don't go in, and things are dealt with another way, then isn't it the case that again there are many different consequences for so many people ... how can it be black and white .... so simply right or wrong? For whom, at what point, judged in what way? ... a blanket judgement which covers all aspects of the situation for all beings, for now and ever onwards? Is there any utility in making such judgements?

I'm not saying it doesn't matter what is done, I'm not saying there are not differences ... I am saying that things are massively more mixed and complex than simple yes/no right/wrong 'sides' can ever convey. And in taking those judgements and sides, we totally falsify the way things are, and just lose ourselves in a dreamworld of our own making.

As an aside, something else that struck me was reading the descriptions of the soldiers experience, on the ground, as they experience it. And how very different that was from the types of things talked about when discussing the rights and wrongs of the situation overall. The big picture seems so removed from the small picture. The soldiers considerations, in those very moment, were so utterly different from the things being discussed from the top. And again, for those soldiers, they work with a range of possibilities, within a particular circumstance that is given for them ... within that, they make choices, but don't choose at that moment the overall paradigm. And how that is for us to, wherever we are .... making choices within a range of possibilities. How did that range come about, within which we make our choices, but which we cannot directly alter itself? Through our past actions of body, speech and mind, through our karma, the direct consequences of our past choices. This is the teaching of the Buddhas ... we inherit what we create for ourselves. Sometimes it's clear what we are able to choose between, but frustrating what we cannot change.

Returning to my start point ... may all beings find peace and safety, and know the difference between skilful and unskilful actions. May we see the nature of how things are, and let go of the tendancy to falsify that with dualistic views and perceptions. May all beings arrive at the peerless peace without limit.

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