I am finding myself compelled for the first time to actually write a letter in response to the provocative title of this past week’s Santa Barbara Independent.

At the memorial of a cherished dharma friend, some of us wondered in dismay at the choice of words in an otherwise good piece of journalism and the telling of a story that needs to be told. What was brought to light in the beautiful gathering yesterday was the importance and enduring effect of choice of words.

I read the well-written article deeply and was educated by it. At the same time, I was so saddened, as were other dharma students, by the choice of words for the title. Perhaps “Brutality in Burma” would have said it all, rather than the choice to bring religion into it. In my humble opinion, such a title just provokes the issue, rather than serving to clarify it.

Just as Bin Laden had little to do with the truth of Islam, this has little to do with the truth of Buddhism. The man on the cover, just like Bin Laden and other such “leaders,” is an egocentric individual with distorted toxic views. These people align themselves under the banner of a religion and strut their harmful views in a religion’s name in a way that not only discredits their religion but all religions. Genuine common sense clearly recognizes these views as a discredit to human dignity, human rights, and global understanding.

Local dharma students aspire for the simple telling of truth, and we hope that in the future The Independent will be very mindful of the responsibility in the choice of words as you educate your caring public on such serious world issues.


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