Roots of Socially Engaged Buddhism: David Loy, Sallie King, Bikkhu Bodhi and Chris Queen photo by Clemens M. Breitschaft
At the recent Socially Engaged Symposium Ari Pliskin reports that "Sallie King offered a Buddhist critique of popular conceptions of justice based on her experience at an international, interfaith peace council, where leaders of world religions gathered to address conflict.
King argued against four common forms of politics that perpetuate conflict instead of ending it:
- Identity politics: The sense of victimhood nourishes suffering and keeps it going generation to generation.
- Righteous Indignation. The angry sense that we are justified and the others wrong.
- Justice: The insistence on finding justice before there can be peace. King reported that while the Buddhists at the summit find ‘human rights’ to be a useful concept, they think justice is
not so useful.
- Revenge: In particular the concept of justice based on retribution perpetuates conflict.
During the question and answer time, Fleet Maull said that he doesn’t think that Buddhists should stick their heads in the sand all together regarding the idea of justice. While he prefers a model called integral transformative justice, he says that even retributive justice, is a desire to return to wholeness, albeit a misguided one. If we don’t engage in these feelings and thoughts, Fleet argued, we risk irrelevance.
King challenged us to engaged in a thought experiment, in which we ask ourselves whether there is anything we could achieve with the concept of justice that we cannot achieve without it, referring instead to less problematic concepts. She believes there is not."
Read Ari's entire post here...
Question for discussion here: What do you think?
Is dismantling the construct of "justice" even possible? (Deconstructing:
reward punishment models, moral principles of 'just conduct, right and
wrongness, bringing the 'wrong' to justice, etc). How can we unwind the culture of 'victimhood' that nourishes suffering and feelings of injustice?