Lessons for toppling dictators
Jan. 11, 2012
A. Gaffar Peang-Meth
PACIFIC DAILY NEWS
Popovic tells us we need analytical skills in “unity, planning, and nonviolent discipline” to succeed in a revolution. He tells us of the working of the dynamics of enthusiasm and humor vs. fear and apathy: As enthusiasm and humor go up, fear and apathy go down, and vice versa. And he tells us to select strategy and tactics: Start small and pick the battle one can win.
I ended 2011 with a column on Lord Buddha’s teachings from 2,500 years ago about man as an activist, an “actionist,” and a maker of the world. As 95 percent of Cambodia’s 14 million people identify themselves as Buddhist, I deduced that Cambodians are activists and “actionists” who can transform autocratic Cambodia into a Buddhist country of civil rights, justice, and compassion.
The people profess to want those changes. Yet change has not happened.
After my column, I received an email from a former Khmer monk, Bouawat Sithi, a graduate of Thailand’s Djittabhawan College, which was founded to provide opportunities to students from poor families to pursue higher education. He affirmed that my interpretation of Buddhism is what he learned as a monk and still practices daily — that Buddha never taught man to believe in fate, but “to believe in our own action (karma).” He lamented Buddhism is not taught or understood correctly and “egoism, anger, greed, delusion, desire, craving, hate and aversion” overwhelm many Cambodians.
Heng Sreang, Royal University of Phnom Penh professor, sent an article, “The Scope and Limitations of Political Participation by Buddhist Monks,” that contains his belief that Khmer Buddhist monks “should play not only a legitimizing but also a critical role” as a “constructive force for the improvement and reconstruction of the social well-being and political life of the country.”