“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” -mlk

Thich Quang Duc was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death (called self-immolation) at a busy Saigon road intersection on 11 June 1963. Quang Duc was protesting about the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government. Photos of his self-immolation were circulated widely across the world and brought attention to the policies of the Diem government. Check this out!: After his death, his body was re-cremated, but his heart remained intact. That is insane!
Quang Duc’s act increased international pressure on Diem and led him to announce reforms. However, the promised reforms were not implemented. Protests continuing, Special Forces loyal to Diem’s brother, launched nationwide raids on Buddhist pagodas, seizing Quang Duc’s heart and causing deaths and widespread damage. Several Buddhist monks followed Quang Duc’s example, also immolating themselves. Eventually, Diem was assassinated on 2 November 1963.
The photo is of the car that he drove to the intersection. There is a photo of him in the background on fire. He appears to be at peace. (I was going to insert the photo here, but it is pretty gnarly. You can google the image. Intense.)
There are so many people in the world that are afraid to ‘rock the boat’ or say how they feel. If things are good with them, they’re fine. Then you have people like this. He had enough power and social status where he could have kept on doing what he was doing and been fine, but he felt that other people’s rights were being violated and would continue to be violated. That is ballsy. I have so much admiration for people who fight the system. Whether it be for de-segregation for black people in the 60s, gay rights (ongoing), stopping the Nazis during WWII, women’s rights (we need to quit stepping on our movement, but that’s a whole different story.) Society (social norms) aren’t always right. If people aren’t scared and ban together- that’s when change happens. Look at Gandhi.
All I’m saying is that the world needs more people to look around and help each other- not just your own people- but everybody. If you’re “winning,” but cheating along the way- isn’t the pureness of winning gone? If you are being treated well, but everyone around you is being treated like crap- that is just gross! Have you ever seen the American tv show “What Would You Do?” It is awesome. They set up fake scenarios, say a customer yelling at an Asian shopkeeper to go back to their country or a customer at a grocery store degrading a developmentally challenged bagger. A lot of the time, people just look away because they think it doesn’t involve them, but it does! It takes a second sometimes to help someone. What goes around, comes around, too. So maybe someday when you’re needing help- someone might lend a hand.
I’ll stop now. Whew! Went off on a tangent there and it all started from a guy who set himself on fire (which I am certainly not recommending- there are small things we can do every day to help make the world better and setting yourself on fire is a bit extreme!)
Bottom line: “Just do right. It may not be expedient. It may not be profitable. But it will satisfy your soul.” -maya angelou

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Categories: kim rambling, vietnam | Leave a comment

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