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Lions Roar : November 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2008 15 Letters to the Editor BEING MINDFUL ISN’T ENOUGH I was disappointed with “Complexity, Chaos, Collapse” (September, 2008) because it seemed to suggest that in order to make social change happen we only need to follow the lead of the great thinkers in the article and feel more, be more aware, and be more a part of our com- munity. What the article lacked is any analy- sis or critique of global capitalism. There are some oblique references to economic factors but no analy- sis of how capitalism concentrates power and wealth in the hands of the few at the expense of the many. A good starting point would be to read Naomi Klein’s recent book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. It is an excellent account of how global capitalism and so-called free market economics came to dominate the world. I found it interesting that one of your interviewees was a man who worked in South Africa to help chart a post-apartheid course. If you read Klein’s account of how the African National Congress lost control over its new economy, thanks to Western experts, it would make you weep. The ANC had developed a policy called the Free- dom Charter that called for land reform, employment rights, free education, the right to decent housing, and a nationalization of some of the big industries such as gold mining. But thanks to the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, and pressures from the U.S., none of these goals were achieved by the ending of apartheid. I agree we do need to be more mindful and work within community groups for social change, but we will not make much progress without an understand- ing of the dynamics of global capitalism—its violence, its militarism, its inexhaustible hunger for resources, and its disdain for human life and cultures. We would be wise to look to the Latin American countries that are challenging the hegemony of U.S.-led global eco- nomics. They do so by mass mobilization of the in- digenous peoples, not by being more mindful. This article gives the impression that for social change we should rely on the white, mostly male experts who are cited in your article. I don’t think so. I would like to see more articles in the Shambhala Sun on Engaged Buddhism and Critical Buddhism. I have just read David Brazier’s book, The New Bud- dhism, and it raises some very challenging critiques of a Buddhism that is inward- looking and self-focused, rather than one that works to relieve suffering in the world. David Stevenson Comox, British Columbia A MORE BEAUTIFUL THING Your article in the July magazine, “The Most Beauti- ful Thing I’ve Seen in Kabul,” caught my attention, but there was something in it that I feel could be detrimental to the Allahoddin orphanage in Kabul, as well as to other such institutions. I had the opportunity to visit both the Tahai Maskan and Allahoddin orphanages in March this year. I put together donations from friends and family and both shipped and personally took humanitarian aid to the orphanages. I met Mrs. Soraya Abdullah Hakim, the president of the department of orphanages in Afghan- istan. I found her to be a gracious, gentle, and caring human being. She is very concerned for and cautious about these children’s well-being. I found the kids to be very open, cheerful, vulnerable, and—yes—victims of losing their fathers, mothers, and villages to war. What I did not see was any child used as a prop to lure in foreign donations, then literally locked up again once the money was guaranteed. I walked among the kids, sat in on their English classes, talked intimately with the little girls, visited on the steps with the teen boys, and chatted about everything—freely and openly. I talked with the U.S. army troops who watch over this orphanage by bringing toys and candy to the children and by building and repairing their home. I did not announce my visit to Mrs. Hakim. I just showed up at the gate and was welcomed beyond any expectation. She showed me around the facilities and if any of your readers would like to take a look at my TravelPod blog (kwdestinations), you will see what I experienced in this very same Allahoddin orphanage. These kids and teens are ripe for becoming either opium dealers or terrorists, but to say that they are the bait for donations is ludicrous. It is our duty as a lo ra rel Dav Com NOV 1-17.indd 15 NOV 1-17.indd 15 9/1/08 12:17:12 PM 9/1/08 12:17:12 PM