The Missing Religious Voice

Tuesday evening found myself and many others attending the US Armies’ Stryker Draft EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) public hearing. The Army has been trying for several years to get a Stryker Brigade permanently station in Hawaii. The stationing of the Styker Brigade in Hawaii would contribute to the further militarization of the Hawaiian Islands. It would also dramatically increase the amount of ordinance used, fired, and detonated on the Islands.

When my turn came to speak, I addressed a few problematic sections of the EIS directly. I then turned my comments to Buddhism.

I stated that I was invited to Hawaii as Buddhist practitioner and religious leader. I reminded the audience that Buddhism has a strong and clear anti War / militarization message and teaching. It is said the followers of the Buddha are not even supposed to watch the preparations for warfare.

I told the audience that I had serious concerns for our Buddhist children and our congregations who are most definitely watching the preparations for war. They cannot help but see them in these heavily militarized islands. They are also being exposed to an ideology of warfare and violence. An ideology that states, explicitly or implicitly, that war and killing are acceptable and even ethically correct. It is and ideology that runs directly counter to the Buddha’s teachings on non-harming, love, compassion, and wisdom.

I shared that as a Buddhist and Religious person, I had grave concerns about these impacts. I pointed out that nowhere in the EIS are the effects of increasing militarization on the Buddhist community mentioned. I reminded the audience that Buddhism is one of the largest, if not the largest, religion in Hawaii.

After these brief statements I concluded and returned to my seat. I listened to hour upon hour of testimony against the Stryker. The majority of the testimony was secular. Some of it was angry and some was not. However, there was not a strong religious opposition to the Stryker. The Hawaiians often spoke from a religious paradigm but few others.

Why weren’t strong religious voices present, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Jews? Where is the debate and struggle within the religious community over this most basic ethical and religious issue: warfare and violence? Why do our churches seem collectively either unconcerned or paralyzed?

Peace, Paul

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