State Violence and Karma

Karma (intentional action) is not always easy to write about. I, as an ordinary person, don’t know the full extent of the result of karma. However, there are very concrete examples being demonstrated in the consequences of state violence.

On Monday, George Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis was killed by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer for the city. Chauvin knelt onto Floyd’s neck until he stopped pleaing that he was in pain and couldn’t breath. Floyd died.

Since his death there has been a protests across the country. In Minneapolis, the station for the 3rd precinct was set on fire and looting had been reported at a local Target and other stores.

MPD 3rd Precinct on fire; public asked to clear the area | www ...

I’m not going into the morality of looting and setting property on fire. I will discuss that there is a consequence to to the immoral decisions of state actors.

State actors have a lot of power to act in a moral fashion. Time and again we find that they choose not to. In this particular situation, the response was protests which have included property damage. That’s the consequence. That’s karma.

It’s not that those in power don’t realize this. They know. But they have the weapons and a need to exert their power. Unfortunately, the result of unrest tends to be further state action. Such action, however, will further show the illusion of the state and it’s need to prop itself up with violence.

Some people have condemned the protesters who have looted and damaged property. Instead of condemning them, it’s more useful to work toward dismantling white supremacy. It’s more useful to work toward dismantling the capitalist system that encourages disparity and the looting that is it’s result.

We can do this by building a pure land. How do you do that? We start by making sure everyone has access to healthcare, food, and shelter. We end the conflict for resources. We distribute power equitably. We stop encouraging racism, misogyny, transphobia, and homophobia. We can stop destroying the environment. Seems simple right?

We know these things but just as the Pure Land is not far, it is also an unfathomable distance from us. Just as creating a just society seems simple, there is a vast political machine with self-interested Maras bent on keeping it from happening.

I don’t know how to actually go about dismantling this system. I can do what I can personally in everyday life and that may be all I can do. A pure land seems to be something of an impossibility. However, it’s better to turn toward it and progress toward it than settle for what we have now.

Buddhism is about getting to the heart of the matter rather than just focusing on symptoms. As we do that socially we can see that the power of the state and the power of capitalism is as illusory as the power of samsara. And maybe, just maybe, we take the long road toward improving our conditions.

Namo Amida Bu

Image from WDIO.com

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