We, as humans, are programmed to believe certain view points of everything, including religion. To the reader, this is not to critic these two religions I will be explaining, as the reader I must address this is only looking at a functionalist point of view. The question we most will be dealing with, is the question of why when we take a look into two religions that have many biased ideas surrounding them, as they are also in turmoil against one another.
Being bias is a social norm in today’s society, especially when it comes to religion. Buddhism teachings especially are known for their teachings of peace. Although, the same goes people of Islam, stating they preach peace unless in certain instances. However, most people do not know, that Buddhist have been in much conflict, especially when it is against the other religion, Islam. Why are “peaceful” Buddhist, in violent conflicts with the Islamic people? As this CNN Article explains, that the number on threat to the Buddhist faith is Islam, according to U Wirathu. This mindset of stating a certain group of religious people are deemed a threat to another group is a thought that manifest into action. It is safe to say that every religion always tries to preach peace and love, but how many people are in conflict over such beliefs that other religious groups are out to get them? The same applies to the “peaceful” people of Buddhism, even when Wirathu contradicts himself by stating Islam is a threat Buddhism and how he is willing to fight for Buddhism, when it goes against many teachings of Buddhism.
When we look at such articles, we tend to let the media run rampant and give thoughts on to what we should believe, but how much should we let them? As this BBC article asks, ” Of all the moral implements of Buddhism teachings, why are Buddhist monks creating hate speech against Muslims and leaving dozens dead”? First of all, we will take a look at what is being asked. Already the bias is being implemented when BBC says Buddhist monks and not some Buddhist monks. This gives the reader of the article a thought of if one Buddhist is causing violence then many are as well. The trouble lies in the fact we do not have a clear definition of someone who is a Buddhist monk or who is a Buddhist at all for that matter. It all comes down to, who do you think are Buddhist and who are not. Many people will say the people who are using violence against Muslims are not Buddhist, even though they state themselves they are. Instead of asking the question of why in this section, the matter becomes who is and who is not Buddhist or Muslim.
When you start to look at where these conflicts are happening, geographically speaking , you noticed how these two groups tend to be close to one another. As most readers of this little post will not understand, The United States, majority of people are Christian and we are never in turmoil with a other religion for political or spiritual space. Still, we tend to think other religions are not correct except for ours, same thing goes for the areas in South East Asia, especially Burma. Only difference is, Islam and Buddhism are using aggravated violence. Why is that? Why do most of us tend to not kill, practically on war terms with each other based on religions, ( By this I mean a religion war, not a select few radical men and women who do this regardless of where they are at, including the United States). What we fail to realize is propaganda mixed with a well spoken person. Of course we are not exposed too much with propaganda to fuel this conflict between these two groups because it does not affect us how it affects South East Asia. As stated in The Washington Post, ” By all appearances, Wirathu seems like an unlikely person for sectarian violence”. Note the key word appearance. A person pretty well known throughout the community and dresses the part well, people in South East Asia will assume he is a monk. Geographically speaking as well, could someone go there and dress and act the part be wide known as well? Why his appearance the one true figure for monks and not someone who does not dress the part or acts it for that matter. It all goes back to our definition of who is and is not a monk, who calls the shots, in this case Wirathu and his violent acts which are sometimes heavily backed up by other Buddhist because he plays the role well in their definition of a monk.
From your reasoning, you are probably thinking, where is the ruthless Islam people in this article? From our, (when I say our, I mean American readers who tend to think what propaganda is thrown at them), perspective, Islam was probably the cause of all this trouble. As said in The Diplomat, “three Noble laureates said the persecution and and violence of Muslims is nothing short of genocide”. This article portrays a violated and a violator are at works. Which is not the case, are we not all human? This is also stating that a whole group of people are being violators when in fact it is just a small percentage that are being the aggressor. The conflict of Buddhism and Islam is nothing of a religious feud, but a feud fueled by biased thinking and ran by politics. Why? It just easy to turn the blame and say. “hey, they are at it because of religious reasoning” and politics wants you to believe that. Extremely easy when most people also play and look the part of these “religious” figures. Everything should be questioned on why things are the way they are when it comes to religious things, we all have our own definition of who plays the part, who is this and who is that, why? Social construct brought us these ideas and we have learned to except it through biased thinking.
Matt Schissler, Phyu Phyu Ti, Mathew Walton, ” The Roots of Religious Conflict” , The Diplomat, 08/06/2015 (http://thediplomat.com/2015/08/the-roots-of-religious-conflict-in-myanmar/)
Sarah Kaplan, “The Serene-looking Buddhist”, The Washington Post 05/27/2015 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/05/27/the-burmese-bin-laden-fueling-the-rohingya-migrant-crisis-in-southeast-asia/)
Charles Haviland, “The darker side of Buddhism”, BBC News, 05/30/2015 (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32929855)
Ivan Watson, Manny Maung, ” Myanmar election Anti-Muslim tension simmers ahead of Myanmar election” 11/03/2015 (http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/02/asia/myanmar-burma-buddhist-muslim-violence/)