Praise and Blame: What's Wrong at the Roots of Our Society?

- through Francois Leclercq

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Photo by Ryoji Iwata

Rather than pointing fingers at others within our own socio-cultural environments and placing blame, perhaps rightly so, we should collectively, as the silent majority, come to a common conclusion that if we each worked individually and independently on the development of our own healthy inner mental culture (Pali: citta bhavana), our own mental culture and that of society as a whole could eventually improve dramatically and collectively, based on the simultaneous strengthening of morality and the enforcement of law and order.

Criticizing others is likely to only arouse their resentment, enmity and even hatred, causing them to act aggressively or secretly towards us, hurt us and silence us, so it would be much wiser not to cause annoyance, which would be tantamount to tickling a tiger's whiskers.

These unhealthy elements of our societies – the bad guys, such as corrupt administrative and political leaders – will, of course, always be there. Inevitably and inexorably, they will continue to characteristically seek to take advantage of others, both ignorantly and selfishly, both overtly and covertly, plotting to increase their wealth and power and bolster their personal "self-image" without worry about no one but themselves, their cronies, and a horde of conspirators and accomplices who also need to be paid.

However, it is not edifying for the mind to dwell on the selfish actions of others; negativity becomes a mental habit and saps our energy. Let us instead examine the problem from a more personal and individual point of view.

Quite paradoxically and rather ironically, we should start to criticize what is wrong with our society by looking and looking at ourselves. From there, we can begin to diligently strive to correct the not-so-healthy and perhaps despicable elements that we will, slowly but surely, begin to recognize in ourselves that are in fact common to all of us. humanity, regardless of creed or culture. or country.

Rather than asking what is wrong with today's changing society and eroding culture, we should first ask ourselves, "What's wrong with me?" or "What is wrong with ourselves that we have become a small part of the creation of such an unbearable society, especially in the context of what can be called a cultural tradition ancient pure and noble Dhamma? »

He who remains passive supports the cause of the aggressor.

Photo by Ricardo Arce

How is it that the majority of people in lands that have long been primarily based on Buddhist culture in contemporary Southeast Asia and elsewhere in the world do not follow the Noble Eightfold Path as described by the Buddha, based on his understanding and wisdom of the Dhamma?

Why don't individuals strive to be good citizens? Why are our people culturally conditioned to passively back off and allow blatantly selfish thieves to acquire money and power illegally, and to continue feeding frenzy after feeding frenzy, continuously and relentlessly, in a way that undermines the ancient values ​​of our highly revered culture, and is detrimental and deconstructive to the foundations of contemporary society?

Within society as a whole, we see worldly attachments and tendencies in the minds of people – from the rural poor to the street vendors in the city; corrupt traders, businessmen, politicians and tycoons. People are, all too often, like lotuses born in darkness and mud. They are causally dependent on their own ignorance and so, unfortunately and inevitably, blindly follow the immediate impulses of their own untrained and untamed bodies and minds. And they will almost always continue to seek what is beneficial to themselves, at the time, even before considering the general good of others and of society as a whole. They are in darkness and do not yet know the light. Isn't there a way to change that?

The things that are wrong with our culture, as a whole, lie in the heart of every citizen, whether rich or poor; whether they are rich, privileged, of high birth or conceived at the lowest social levels.

In this cultural climate, we could all strive to withdraw into ourselves, to discover our common faults. If we continue to follow our treasured cultural traditions, if we carefully weigh our words and actions before they have time to blossom through contact, reaction and intention that arises, we may avoid hurt. that result for ourselves and for others. Indeed, we have to improve our mind through the conscious elimination of worldly attachments, which lead to unwholesome and unsavory actions.

We have the necessary equipment and instructions to do so, to help raise our social and cultural level by refraining from the attachment of greed, envy and hatred, and to avoid the dangerous delusion that it is important to become someone "great", respected. , powerful and feared in the eyes of the undereducated and otherwise overlooked masses.

Yet again, finger pointing is not the way to go.

In short, instead of laying blame on a particular person, we should instead have compassion for all the deceived and ignorant (Pali: avija) within this desolate and suffering society. And then set a good individual example that others could imitate and follow, especially in our own immediate surroundings and circles of acquaintances and, above all, within the family.

Photo by Farid Ershad

It is the children of our families who are the hope of the future. And while we ourselves may not be able to change the current ills of society, substantially or immediately, the values ​​we impart to our children will hopefully lead to a gradual but sure evolution that will eventually transform behavior. obviously ostensible and scandalous of these compromised, corrupt, administrative, political and social leaders who are seen smiling smugly on the media channels, with no apparent sense of shame or blame. Perhaps in this way we can help lead to a change in which this type of social conditioning becomes a slowly disappearing phenomenon in history.

In the words of the Buddha: “Begin and then continue. »

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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