Ultimate Responsibility

Abortion QuestionsWhether you agree with the right of women to abort their unborn children, or not, the news that a US doctor has been convicted of killing three babies after their delivery, is shocking and thought provoking in the extreme. Dr Kermit Gosnell performed thousands of abortions over a career spanning three decades, with officials saying that his medical practice earned him about $1.8m a year.

Cause no harm to any sentient being, is the principle at the heart of Buddhist practice, so the act of abortion flies in the face of Buddhist beliefs at the most base level. Having said that, Nichiren Buddhism has no rules, so the decision by anyone, to kill another being, is left in their own hands, albeit that the responsibility for their action must be taken.

Each abortion decision is surrounded by a unique set of circumstances. Maybe the unborn child has been diagnosed with a life-altering illness, maybe the mother is in danger if she continues the pregnancy, the list is infinite. But whatever the situation, the responsibility of termination lies with all those concerned.

The horrific details of this case are fuelling the abortion debate, and will no doubt cause the argument to make the act of abortion illegal to be more strongly heard. Whatever the outcome, it is important that we all recognise that whilst each individual has the right to decide the course of their lives, that as individuals, we have an ultimate responsibility for every thought, word and deed.

False Impressions?

Indian Rape ProtestsAll this talk about the 23 year old Indian female student who was raped and murdered by a gang of men, followed today by a second very similar incident involving a 21 year old Indian woman has been a real shock to me.

I have known and worked with quite a number of Indian people over the years, seen scores of documentaries about Buddha, Ghandi and aspects of Indian life, and always thought that the society, although suffering from poverty in certain areas, was spiritual and peaceful in nature.

But these stories, and the background comments describing them as almost commonplace have forced me to think again. Obviously during the Indian mutiny and the struggle for independence Indians used force to further their cause, but to hear that the abuse of women is rife within Indian society flies in the face of everything I believed true.

If, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, that women are being mistreated and that social pressures are brought to bear on girls and women who are sexually abused, there needs to be a change, brought about by the Indian Government, to address that situation.

Similar changes are needed, and are slowly being implemented in the UK. There has long been a stigma about the reporting and prosecution of rape cases, which is slowly being eroded, but much more needs to be done. Having lived with a victim of rape some years ago, I can say first hand, that it destroys lives and should be treated with the respect and sensitivity it deserves.

It is very sad that these women have suffered and died in such a traumatic and violent manner. Let us ensure that the outrage the cases have caused in India, is mirrored in the UK, and the steps to help the victims of rape in this country are strenuous far reaching and happen as soon as possible.

Greater Sexual Equality – Sadly?

Afghan PolicewomanI was dismayed to hear the news this morning, that an Afghan policewoman killed a US NATO advisor in Kabul. It is believed to be the first ‘insider’, or Green on Blue attack to be carried out by a woman.

As with all crimes of violence, there seems to be, for me at least, and additional shock factor when the perpetrator is female. I am unsure quite why that should be, maybe it’s because I am old fashioned and still consider them the to be fairer sex.

Whatever the reason, it is very sad to hear about the incident in Kabul. One can only hope that it will prove to be an isolated incident and that it is an indication that the Taliban are finding it more difficult to carry out such attacks using men.

Following on from the news that The British troops stationed out in Afghanistan are to be withdrawn sooner than scheduled, due to the reported increased progress being made in the training of the Afghan troops and police forces, it makes one question, once again, what kind of mess we will be leaving behind.


ForgivenessWatching the tail end of tonight’s Crimewatch, in which Kirsty Young talked to the mother of the murdered James Bulger, as well as interviews with some of the survivors of the massacre on the eve of the sentencing of Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik, it was heartening to see that people can pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and move on.

Forgiveness is a powerful emotion. It allows us to take a look at events in a different light and move into a future without bitterness. James Bulger’s mother has accepted that although she can never get her son back, she can honour his short life by giving children of today some happiness through a charity which allows them to take holidays they may otherwise never have.

The people who perpetrate such horrendous crimes are ill. No sane person would entertain the thought of doing such things, so they also deserve our compassion. Living with the results of their actions must be a huge burden and we should all spare a moment’s thought for that.

Life is far too short to carry the emotions of revenge and hate around with us. Forgiveness frees us from those emotions and although it might seem weak to forgive, it does, in fact show a huge amount of inner strength.

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