Adopted by Buddhist Peace Action Vermont on October 21, 2020
We are witnessing the rise of fascist governments around the world which are a threat to peace, social justice, and a compassionate way of life. This trend is written about by former Secretary of state Madeline Albright in her 2018 book, titled “Fascism: A Warning.”
Jason Stanley, a professor of philosophy at Yale University and author of the bestselling 2018 book, How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, discusses the fascist tactics used to maintain power. These include “Demonizing immigrants, delegitimizing political opponents, mobilizing paramilitary groups, undermining experts, attacking the press, and lying incessantly until there is no accepted truth are all classic tactics used by fascist leaders throughout history.”
In recent years democracies around the world have become steadily weaker. This has had a great impact on the lives of their citizens. As one example in the U.S. “Over the past 50 years, the highest-earning 20% of U.S. households have steadily brought in a larger share of the country’s total income. In 2018, households in the top fifth of earners (with incomes of $130,001 or more that year) brought in 52% of all U.S. income, more than the lower four-fifths combined, according to Census Bureau data.”
An awareness of the interconnectedness of all life is central to a Buddhist view of the world. This implies holding ourselves and all living beings in great compassion. To quote one of the mostly widely recognized Buddhist teachers Thich Nhat Hanh, “We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”
Buddhist Peace Action Vermont, an organization of socially engaged Buddhists, is very concerned that our democracies are veering in a fascist direction. If left unchecked, it will certainly bring increased suffering to many of us, especially our most vulnerable. Let us reach out to Americans of all views and faiths encouraging a fuller participation in civic life. Each of us has a part to play in protecting human rights and dignity.