Tag Archives: Social justice

Every Human Life Has Value

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

In recent weeks the world has been rocked by deeds of horrific violence, which have had tragic consequences and brought fear and sorrow into the lives of people everywhere. Yet sudden acts of terrorist violence are not the only type of random destruction occurring today. Structures of domination and exploitation impose a kind of subtle violence that also take many innocent lives as their toll. What unifies both terrorism and systemic violence is a refusal to recognize that every person is an irreplaceable center of subjective experience and thus a bearer of intrinsic value. 

Over the past two weeks, deeds of horrific violence have erupted across the globe, tearing at the strings of the heart. A suicide bombing in Ankara on March 13 killed forty people, the latest in a series of bombings in Turkish cities. Two suicide bombings took place in Brussels a week ago, at the airport and on a train, killing more than thirty, turning an ordinary business day into a nightmare. On Easter Sunday in Lahore, a major city in Pakistan, a suicide bombing in a park claimed the lives of more than seventy people, most of them women and children enjoying a family outing. Another suicide bombing in a soccer stadium in Iraq, south of Baghdad, killed thirty, mostly youngsters.

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Mourners in Pakistan after bombing at park in Lahore

Such deeds testify to a shocking disregard for human life that has spread like wildfire from country to country. These acts of senseless violence leave us speechless, stricken with grief for the victims, shaken by sorrow, anxious perhaps that in the weeks and months ahead we ourselves might just happen to find ourselves standing at the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet the number of lives these deeds of desperate cruelty claim, while shocking, is still miniscule compared to another kind of violence that is all the more pernicious because it does not strike suddenly out of the blue but creeps up slowly, imperceptibly, like a viper hidden in the grass. This is the violence, often lethal violence, inflicted by global systems and institutions that are considered normal, inevitable, and even respectable. Continue reading

Fifth Concert to Feed the Hungry

BGR Staff

Winard HarperOn Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 7:00 pm., Buddhist Global Relief will hold its fifth Concert to Feed the Hungry, at the Middle Collegiate Church,112 Second Avenue, New York, NY. Dedicated to the worldwide struggle against chronic hunger and malnutrition, the concert will feature Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Fred Hersch, percussionist Rogério Boccato, singer/songwriter Becca Stevens, vocalist Jean Rohe, and the Colombian folkloric ensemble La Cumbiamba eNeYé. The concert is produced by saxophonist and BGR board member, Dan Blake.

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Funds raised from the concert will support BGR’s many projects, which combat hunger worldwide, in regions ranging from Cambodia, India, and Bangladesh to Ethiopia and Cameroon to New York City. These projects not only provide direct food aid to people afflicted by poverty and disaster, but help farmers develop ecologically sustainable methods of food production, promote the education of poor girls, and give women the chance to earn more to support their families. Here in New York City, BGR supports a meal program for homeless youth and funds the development of urban gardens in communities with limited access to nutritious foods.

Middle Collegiate Church is a culturally diverse, inclusive and growing community of faith where all persons are welcomed just as they are as they come through the door. As a respected venue for the arts, the Church features an Arts in Activism and Education ministry team, comprised of lay leaders and professionals dedicated to expressing Middle’s inclusive spiritual vision through daring artistic programming.

Seating is limited
Tickets are $25/$15 (with student ID)
To purchase securely or for more information, visit:
www.concerttofeedthehungry.org

FREE Livestream

Now you can watch this concert for free from almost anywhere in the world! All you’ll need is a computer or smart device and internet access. Invite your friends to view with you!

Please join us for this evening of music dedicated to the struggle against chronic hunger and malnutrition. All proceeds support Buddhist Global Relief’s projects for hunger relief, agriculture, education, and livelihood in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the U.S.

Please also make a donation, so that you can help the hungry too!

Feeding Schoolchildren in Cameroon

BGR Staff

A few days ago we received the following message and photographs from Kwangene Princely, Executive Director of our partner in Cameroon,  CENCUDER (Centre for Community Development and Environmental Restoration)

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The feeding program sponsored by Buddhist Global Relief has so far been  a fantastic success. We are proud to say that many pupils who initially did not like going to school are now the first persons to come to school with their plates. Some even attempt to come on Saturday, which is not a school day, thinking that they are going to be served with food. So far, the performance of the children in the first results has improved by 60% compared to last year’s first term. The health of the children is also becoming better. Children who suffered from diseases due to malnutrition, like Kwashiorkor, which affected their performance in school, are doing quite well.

Many primary schools in the subdivision are coming to our office to have the program extended to their school as well. There is a lot of pressure on our side from the children, the parents, and head teachers of other schools. In fact, our feeding program is the first of its kind to be instituted by an NGO in the southwest region of Cameroon. The program is making great news.

We thank you all at Buddhist Global Relief. It is really a veritable change in the lives of these children and the most powerful tool to increase the school attendance rate in rural areas of Africa

Regards,Kwangene

CENCUDER 4   CENCUDER

The Revolutionary Message of Martin Luther King Jr.

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

In the half-century since his tragic death at the age of 39, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has been turned into a national idol. His birthday has been made a public holiday. His memorial stands in the heart of our capital city, close to the memorials of our greatest presidents. His name is invoked by politicians on both the left and the right, treated almost as sacrosanct. In the process of being glorified, however, King has been domesticated, sanitized, and tamed. His powerful voice, which once sent tremors down the spines of the power elites, now speaks in muffled tones. His speeches are quoted selectively, stripped of their fiercest and most insistent words. Nowadays we can even visit his memorial in D.C., read the quotations blazoned on the walls, and still chat blandly about the weather and the baseball scores.

MLK is most remembered for his “I Have a Dream” speech, which in the mid-1960s became the anthem of the civil rights movement. But King was more than just a civil rights leader representing the concerns of African Americans. He was above all a man of deep faith who was ready to follow the call of conscience no matter where it led him, even into dangerous waters. He stood up against all travesties of human dignity, against all violations against the integrity of the human person, without concern for the identity of the victims.
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On Hope and Hype: Reflections on a New Year’s Tradition

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

2016 New Year's at CYM

At the dawn of a new year it’s customary to suspend our habitual cynicism about human nature in order to express joyful hopes for the year that lies ahead. While this practice helps to spread good cheer, at least for a day, it often seems to me an exercise with no practical consequences. How, I ask myself, can declaring my hopes to others make a dent in a world oblivious to our dreams? How can we expect the mere change of a date to alter the conditions under which we live?

The practice, I fear, may not be very different from a drug habit. Both seem to serve a similar purpose. If I find my life’s circumstances intolerable, I may try to numb my pain and frustration by taking a drug. If I perceive the world descending into chaos, I  try to console myself and cheer up others by declaring that this year things will be better. In this way, hope may turn out to be little more than hype: a psychological hypodermic needle filled with a mind-numbing narcotic, a hyperbole that obscures the grim reality that engulfs us all.
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Climate Change as a Moral Call to Social Transformation

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

As negotiators gather in Paris this week and next for the COP 21 conference, it is important to recognize that solving the climate crisis is not merely a matter of adopting new policies but of transforming our ways of relating to the world. It entails adopting a new sense of responsibility for the fate of humanity, for the planet and the entire global community. The realization that human activity is altering the earth’s climate assigns to human beings the gravest moral responsibility we have ever faced. It puts the destiny of the planet squarely in our own hands just at a time when we are inflicting near-lethal wounds on its surface and seas and instigating what has been called “the sixth great extinction.”

As an ethical issue, however, climate change cannot be viewed in isolation. To understand its ethical aspects adequately, it is necessary to recognize the close links between climate change and a host of other factors that initially may appear to have little to do with the disruptions affecting the earth’s geophysical processes. Today we face not merely a climate emergency but a single multidimensional crisis whose diverse facets—environmental, social, political, and economic—intersect and reinforce each other with dizzying complexity.
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Thanksgiving Reflections

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

This past Sunday I attended an interfaith Thanksgiving service at the St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Peekskill, New York. I spoke extemporaneously. This is a polished version of my talk.

Thanksgiving is a time when we all gather to give thanks for the blessings we have received over the past year. Here, in the US, we have much to be thankful for, but as I reflect on the blessings that I have experienced, I also realize that almost every one of them represents a privilege that I enjoy but which too few people in the world share.

First, I realize that I live in a country that has not been subjected to devastating military assaults, and thus I enjoy relative security in my physical person. When I recognize this, I think of the millions upon millions of people around the world, especially in the Middle East, who do not have this sense of security. I think of the civilian populations in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan who have seen their own countries shattered by war, their homes demolished, their livelihoods destroyed; whose loved ones have been killed right before their eyes; who have had to flee their native lands for distant shores, often at great peril, or who stay behind, where they live in the shadow of fear and danger. I realize that I should not take my own security for granted, knowing that it is part of a global system that entails devastation and despair for many millions.
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The Walk in Willington

A Participant

I just wanted to drop you a short note regarding last weekend’s “Walk Against Hunger” fundraiser at the Lao Lane Xang Buddhist Temple in Willington, CT in support of Buddhist Global Relief.  This is the fourth year I have attended the Walk in Willington and each year I am more inspired than the last.

It was so nice to see so many smiling faces joining in to support this wonderful cause.  There must have been at least 60 participants this year. I saw many new faces.  I even bumped into a couple of people from my home town who, unbeknownst to me, are supporters of Buddhist Global Relief and were participating in this year’s walk.  What a pleasant surprise!
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NYC Walk to Feed the Hungry

Sara McMahon

On our 6th annual NYC Walk to Feed the Hungry we were blessed with excellent weather—a little chilly at first, but the sunshine soon made it perfectly comfortable.​ About 150 people turned up to support this event!

Group Photo

Echo Bonner of the Dharma Drum Retreat Center ​got everyone warmed up with a mindful movement meditation, formally known as the Eight F​orm​ Meditation.

​Participants then gathered as ​Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi ​spoke of the history of the Walk, and read a ​special ​message of support from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
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We Are La Via Campesina

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

We are La Via Campesina,” a short 15-minute video about the international peasants organization, offers a range of insights from the movement’s representatives as they speak about their struggles for food sovereignty and for social, economic, and climate justice.

A movement of small farmers around the world is probably far from the everyday concerns of Western Buddhists, whose interests are usually focused on meditation, Buddhist doctrine, and the application of mindfulness to their daily lives. But if the Buddhist principle that all things are connected is indeed correct, then our own fate and the destiny of the world may be intimately bound up with the fate of peasants working the land in Subsaharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America. The Buddha says that all beings subsist by nutriment, and for a billion people, the system of food production we adopt determines whether they will eat or go hungry. Even more critical, our choice may determine whether we manage to put a lid on climate change or push the earth’s biosphere beyond its viable limits.
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