Friday, January 27, 2012

Buddhist Solidarity

Two of my favorite Buddhist bloggers, Maia and Katie, are present in this interview of Katie done on the blog Jizo Chronicles. I want to reflect briefly on the following section of Katie's comments:

On a larger scale, exploring interdependence has really shaped the way I understand solidarity. I don’t have to “know” someone in order to comprehend that we are connected — spiritually, and through local and global systems. The workers at the Foxconn factories in China, who face penalties of twelve years in prison for attempting to unionize, probably helped produce this laptop I’m typing on. And they must continue to work under unbearable conditions; otherwise, they and their families won’t eat. But their situation won’t improve, necessarily, if I give up my laptop, or stop buying Apple products. Instead (in my opinion) I am called to practice compassion and solidarity by supporting the actual struggles of the workers, and similar struggles of workers and peasants not only abroad but in the U.S. as well.

With the markedly increased speed and potential impact of communications these days, we actually have a greater chance of making a difference in the lives of people living half way across the globe. The digital support through blog posts, tweets, articles, petitions, etc. that people around the globe sent to folks protesting in Arab countries over the past year has been heard and deeply felt. The reciprocal standing in solidarity from those same protestors was felt by yours truly and many of his fellow Occupiers during the past several months as well. It may seem like a tiny thing - a blog post, a sharing on Facebook or Twitter - but it all adds up. And these days, often quickly.

There was a photo a few months back of an Egyptian protestor in Tahir Square holding up a sign supporting those who had been beaten in Katie's current hometown of Oakland during the occupy protests. It brought me to tears.

We aren't alone. No one is alone. And there are more and more creative ways people are finding to stand in solidarity with people around the world. From expanding the messaging being used against destructive legislation at home to include it's global impact, to strategically spreading ideas for social change, we are moving beyond simply clicking on a petition and forgetting about it.

Furthermore, the best elements of the nearly worldwide now protest movements are starting to combine activism with a deep commitment to personal relationships. Recognizing that how we are with each other, how we care for each other, is probably just as important, if not more so, than any political "victory."

I hope to write more about this, and similar topics, in the coming months. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts.


Adam said...

Just an FYI, it is very hard to see the hyperlink to the article because it is green like the background. :)

David Ashton said...

I agree - social r/evolution is taking place on all levels at once - in our personal growth, in our interpersonal lives, on the street, and on the internet, one link at a time. Pretty impossible to assign relative value to any particular activity because the ramifications are impossible to know.

Ani said...

I love the green color of your blog, but it's impossible to see the links because of their color. A quick CSS change should fix this.

The part about social networking that bothers me is that sometimes people get complacent and use likes or tweets or +1s as an excuse not to take real action toward real change. Support, empathy, sympathy, etc. may be great first steps, as is raising awareness through social media, but we need to have the courage to do more.

This was my first visit to your blog, and I love what I see here. I'm grateful that you've shared with us.

Katie Loncke said...

There was a photo a few months back of an Egyptian protestor in Tahir Square holding up a sign supporting those who had been beaten in Katie's current hometown of Oakland during the occupy protests. It brought me to tears.

Me, too. :)

@Lola I hear you on the need to do "more" than Like, tweet, etc., and I think Nathan would say the same. Still, the power of being able to share information so quickly and across such great distances, though not the be-all-end-all, certainly seems to be helping shift consciousness and a sense of togetherness. Even more important, the two-way nature of such communication helps break down the one-way mirror of corporate media, which presents "unrest abroad" as some exotic spectacle for US consumers. As with the solidarity marches in Oakland and Cairo, we can now Skype with, coordinate with, and communicate with each other much more quickly and easily, and that to me is hella exciting.

Buddhist_philosopher said...

I agree and follow in David's comment. We are all, by virtue of reaching out (virtually or otherwise) connected with the revolution sweeping our globe. Whether we are on the front lines marching in Oakland or Tahrir Square or at home watching and spreading the word, we are connected. We may not be moving toward a world free of state-sponsored violence, just yet, but we definitely are getting close to a world where that violence cannot be hidden, lied about, and/or erased from memory.