What is rightful for the US?

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed Sep 19 23:32:34 CDT 2001

On Fri, 14 Sep 2001, Chandrashekaran Venkataraman wrote:

> Dear members,
>    This morning I was watching on TV the prayer session conducted in
> the National Cathedral, DC attended by all politicians incl. President.
> Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy men presented sermons and prayer words.
> It was good to hear all that. The Christian holy man prayed for "clear
> thinking for the men taking high level decisions at this juncture" and
> also prayed to "protect them from acting out of blind vengeance and random
> aggression". This is God's words in my opinion. It's very easy to get
> instigated
> and overly provoked and act out of wrath and personal pressure at these
> times. This sermon has come in a timely fashion to instil some wisdom and
> clear thinking into the men at the helm.
>    I have a dilemma here... If we were to follow ahimsa dharma we shouldn't
> harm our enemy and put them to grieve willingly. But as a government given
> the duty of protecting its hundreds of millions of people, it needs to
> defend its nation and only way is aggression against enemy which will
> invariably
> lead to killing of many innocent lives besides achieving its purpose. Does
> gita support the latter part? What do you all think about this moment of
> decision?

Manusmrti and other shastras are quite clear that perfect ahimsa is not
possible.  (That's why nityakarmas like panchamahayajnas are ordained as
prayaschitta for the minor acts of himsa we inadvertantly commit every
day.) And yet those same shastras do ask us to pursue ahimsa.  Contradiction?
No.  The absence of perfection does not excuse us from trying to be
perfect because what is the alternative?  The US government as you state
has the duty to protect its' people and seek justice.  It cannot shirk
that duty out of fear of the consequences.  Arjuna is the one in the
Bhagavadgita who makes arguments for ahimsa, for sharing and compromise etc..
Yet Krishna Bhagawan dismisses such arguments because in the name of
avoiding relatively minor evils, such feelings would have allowed a
greater evil to flourish.  Unfortunately we are dealing with cowards who
hide amongst the innocent. That puts the blood of such innocents on
their hands not the US.  Having said that, I am aware that unlike the days
of bow and arrows where a misplaced shot could kill one innocent person,
we now have weapons of mass distruction.  So the US must be careful not to
use them recklessly.  But again, prudence should not give way to paralysis.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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