I wish I could say that this was an aberration in Australian politics, but alas, it jibes all too well with my experience. Not all politicians, of course, but as you can see from the clip, most of his party members are laughing along with the “joke”.
Quite apart from the offensiveness of the subject matter, it is sad to see how little stock is placed in rational and compassionate dialogue, and how much in schoolyard bullying.
I think we can explain what was wrong in that speech and explain how it misrepresents hinduism/buddhism etc, even add how it caused hurt to Hindus/Buddhists - via press releases/statements; But I do not believe in requesting or asking or pressuring someone to apologise.
Having read through multiple religious texts including various branches in Hinduism, christianity, Islam, Jainism etc, the only acceptable response to criticism of religion I found was in the Buddhist Brahmajala sutta: Start of Quote
“Mendicants, if others criticize me, the teaching, or the Saṅgha, don’t make yourselves resentful, bitter, and exasperated. You’ll get angry and upset, which would be an obstacle for you alone. If others were to criticize me, the teaching, or the Saṅgha, and you got angry and upset, would you be able to understand whether they spoke well or poorly?”
“If others criticize me, the teaching, or the Saṅgha, you should explain that what is untrue is in fact untrue: ‘This is why that’s untrue, this is why that’s false. There’s no such thing in us, it’s not found among us.’ End Quote
Going by history and even current affairs, where religious fundamentalists in India(and elsewhere) are asserting themselves, requesting someone to apologise for criticising religion is a slippery slope - slope ending in anti-blasphemy laws. That’s how I feel anyway…
And I would defend everyones right to free expression, however offensive another may find it, as long as it is not a speech provoking immediate violence.
Too often, “causing offence to religious sentiments” has been the argument to oppress minority rights in the name of religion/criticism of evil practices in religion.
“Suppiya the wanderer spoke in many ways in dispraise of the Buddha, in dispraise of the Dhamma, in dispraise of the Saṅgha.”
“If others were to speak in dispraise of me, in dispraise of the Dhamma, or in dispraise of the Saṅgha, you should unravel and explicate what is unfactual as unfactual: ‘This is unfactual, this is inaccurate, there is nothing of that in us, and that is not to be found in us.’—DN 1
In the Australian context where little is known about Indian religions and the view presented by the treasurer is a past stereotype, this petition is simply a reply to straighten the public record, ‘This is unfactual, this is inaccurate, there is nothing of that in us, and that is not to be found in us.’
Note: “Sanjaya is thought to be the first teacher of the future Buddha’s future two great disciples, Maha-Moggallana and Sariputta. Both of them were followers of a person named Sanjaya Parabajjaka (Sanjaya the wanderer). Sanjaya Parabajjaka is considered to be same as Sanjaya Belatthiputta by many scholars. These two future arahants ultimately left Sanjaya’s tutelage as it did not address their unresolved desire to end ultimate suffering.Sanjaya Parabajjaka also had a follower named Suppiya,and so was Tattvalabdha, a minister at the court of King [Ajatashatru](Ajatashatru - Wikipedia).”—Wikipedia
@Ravi that was written well and is appealing. There are valid points, and I think it might be difficult at times to speak such criticisms; thank you. But there’s one part I have agreed with in the past, which I am not sure I can anymore.
I believed in this as a principle of democracy; yet democracy seems to be falling to demagogues, bullies, anti-democracy warriors using free speech to drown out other voices, generate apathy and aversion and chaos. Their stomachs seem never to balk at consuming the vomit they produce with malicious hateful glee. So what’s a humane person to do?
Sit, and escape samsara right now…
I see the petition mentioned in the OP as a recognized form of dialogue of these times. Yes, there may be danger in the slippery slope into anti-blasphemy laws (which as far as I have seen have always ended up being interpreted as what irritates and offends a particular segment of society).
But there is other danger in being silent; not just in suttas is this taken as consent. Politicians have taken on a public role and public responsibility to the societies they govern. They should not be seen as above criticism or public complaint or dialogue imo.
I understand your point, and I agree that it is certainly a valid concern. Obviously it is fine to consider different approaches to this. In the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils there has been some discussion about how to respond, and my recommendation was to write a letter of support to the Hindu Council.
It is very true that when such principles are established—for example, that mocking a religion by a politician—is not acceptable, the darkest forces will find a way to twist this and use it for their own ends. And for that reason, caution is definitely warranted. By just giving a reasoned explanation, it is harder to twist. Not that they won’t try!
Still, for myself, and in this context, I think writing a petition is a normal part of democratic process, and I hope it may have an effect.
No, this is based on a reaction to the Wellbeing Budget, which heralds a fundamental change in the way finance is looked at, demoting it in favour of human criteria. The position of treasurer would be much less prestigious.
“ the health of the economy is conceived exclusively in quantative terms, by means of such indicators as GNP or GDP. These indicators measure only a country’s total exchange of monetary goods and services. They reveal nothing at all about the qualitative nature of the goods and services exchanged; they do not register the social and ecological costs of economic development; they say nothing about how the wealth generated is distributed among the country’s population.”—-“ Buddhist Guideposts Towards Developmemt,” Bikkhu Bodhi.
Bhutan is an example of a country that operates on GNH (Gross National Happiness).
The EU is moving in that direction:
" International agencies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the European Union (EU) built on this work and now collate both objective and subjective data across countries to measure national wellbeing. Alongside international efforts, a growing number of countries already measure national wellbeing.
The UK was one of the first countries to do so, with the Measuring National Wellbeing Programme established as early as 2010. However, unlike some countries that solely report wellbeing indicators, New Zealand has made an explicit commitment to measure the success of its budget and structure budget allocations according to its’ national wellbeing indicators."
I’ve watched it, where’s the offensiveness supposed to be. It looks like jovial poking to me, childish laughs.
I’m a ‘Buddhist’ and ‘Meditator’. Didn’t offend me one bit. Everyone seems so serious and touchy these days. People signing ‘petitions’ seems like it’ll do more harm to him than he’s caused to anyone else. No wonder the media have jumped on it.
He’s spoken up against Anti-Semitism before, there seemed to be no hate in what he said here.
Thanks for explaining. The whole speech puzzled me until I read the above. The speech was therefore a rationalization of the “sensibility” of the status quo and a dismissal via sharp, divisive and deliberate mockery that any thought let alone deliberation should be given to budgetary consequence beyond the fiscal.
The rebuttal to such arguments is simply to say, “the 2019 bush fires were caused and exacerbated due to budgetary short-sightedness.” In this manner, the fool is revealed. Contention arising from the divisive mockery is actually his intended distraction.
Correct. Frydenberg has a Leo influence and is therefore able to sense any threat to his power on the horizon. The term ‘treasurer’ is itself archaic, and Bhutan has simply a Finance ministry which carries no special status. Thailand has a policy of sufficiency:
" The Sufficiency Economy is a philosophy developed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand through his royal remarks over the past three decades. The Sufficiency Economy is a happiness development approach, which emphasizes the middle path as an overriding principle for appropriate conduct by people at all levels. The middle path is a way of thinking in which no one lives too extravagantly or too thriftily. It encourages people to live in a way where they consume only what they really need, choose products carefully, and consider their impact on others and the planet. The sufficiency economy enhances the nation’s ability to modernize without defying globalization – it provides a means to respond to negative outcomes caused by rapid economic transitions. This philosophy is a guide to making decisions that will generate outcomes that are beneficial to the development of the country."
"The current economic system (the “old way”) responds to the common needs of humanity and the planet in ways that do not address the heart of problems and do not make life better for all. In fact, often problems are made worse or at best responses act as ‘sticking plasters’.
In a wellbeing economy (the “new way”), responses would be person-centred, geared towards environmental protection and regeneration, positive and long-term. The exciting thing is – the new way is already emerging, with inspiring examples around the world showing us the way."
With the caveat that I know virtually nothing about Australian politics, it seems to me from watching this video that he doesn’t want to pay extra taxes to fund what he perceives to be woo-woo. If the other side wants to take from him/and those who vote for him what they do not want to give voluntarily, mockery might be one of several possible reactions, and there are worse reactions than that in this samsara.
What point is there in applying external pressure to him to force an apology? It won’t change his mind. It will at best force him to give an insincere apology, and perhaps make his resentment increase. As I see it, this is NOTHING compared to what the Buddha talks about in the parable of the saw, and he asked for a different response from his followers.
EDIT: Also, no word has an inherent meaning, or an inherent self that makes it either kind or hurtful. Words, like all phenomena, are empty. I can spend my energy trying to change the external world so that nobody mocks what I cherish, which causes me pain and suffering, or I can spend my energy working on my mind so that no word, spoken by anyone will cause it to suffer. One of those options is doomed to fail at the outset, but the other can be realized through Dhamma-practice.
Actually, EVERYONE has a pass to do anything they want to do. It is only other people who disagree with those actions and then try to dominate the disagreeable into submission because they don’t fit into a shared view of how things are “supposed to be.” This “supposed to be” does not exist. It’s merely a construct of society, which no one can agree upon anyway. There are no rules other than nature. Why aren’t people getting upset when those rules are broken? Of course, as per our conditioning, we like to get caught up in trifles, because is very easy to feel indignant about almost anything. Then again, many people love digging holes in water.