Buddhist Thoughts on Collaboration in Addressing Social Ills in the United States
To review the social ills in the United States is truly overwhelming. Buddhism teaches that suffering exists and that there is a cause of suffering. The evident suffering of poverty, hunger, and homelessness could have many causes. The disparity between the rich and the poor is immense. Here, the absence of a living wage contributes to the poverty in which so many people live. The issues of violence, crime, drugs, and sexually transmitted diseases may reflect the desire of individuals to seek the false comforts of wealth, pleasure, power, and relief from pain. Other social ills, such as the high rates of infant mortality and of chronic disease and the lack of access to quality health care, are attributed to a lack of education, to ignorance, to fear, and so on. Many causes of these social ills can be identified. But how does Buddhism work together with another spiritual belief system to address and help relieve the suffering? How can our Buddhist teaching address moral apathy, immigration problems, corporate corruption, low wages, pollution, voter apathy, global warming, global conflict, or the cost of energy?