Subtle sways of the mind. Covert violence in messaging. Carried-over hatred onto the typically oppressed.
Have you noticed yourself repeating certain words, phrases, gestures you come across? Then unconsciously rehashing 90% of them, ad nauseam?
Have you noticed lately how if you don’t grab yourself by the hand, you’re likely to forward the vehemence from a more powerful figure onto an anonymous Tweeter or a source of annoyance on Facebook?
Especially in today’s stressful world of the Internet, intentional assaults and intimidation and unintentional dispersion of biases and negativity can pervade. Practices that cultivate mindfulness, discipline, and compassion are especially needed nowadays.
In light of recent online personal attacks against Dr. Funie Hsu and other outspoken Asian American Buddhists, Dr. Hsu decided against having her PowerPoint presentation during the recent NABA video webinar on racial justice be shared online. She writes of a white male spewing venom under an assumed POC identity on the WWW. Dr. Hsu fears for her personal safety, given that she spoke from the heart and from a physical space that's personal and private.
Factual material on Asian American Buddhist history presented by Dr. Hsu is crucial to share and important to include for Buddhists in an increasingly diverse sangha, a Mahasangha, or the society-at-large that is too often fraught with racial tension.
In making visible the invisible, it is ironic to permit intimidation and implicit or explicit power plays to censor and control those attempting to break out of being silenced.
Please support Dr. Hsu and other Asian American Buddhists who speak up and speak out, along with the more likely targets of trolling such as women, LGBTI’s, and POC’s.
Here are a few specific things we can do as a community:
Know your rights. Witness, report, and refuse online abuse. It is important that we work together to stop discrimination, challenge abusive behavior online, and provide support to those affected. No one deserves to nor should undergo daily onslaughts of taunts and threats. As reported in too many news stories, the consequences are too often devastating for those who have been humiliated and shamed continuously.
Mindfully observe and not play into any extreme dichotomy that someone sets up so people pick sides and pick fights with “the other”. It is the troll creating the trap of polarity that we must be most cautious of, not the fictitious “other”. Don’t feed into any frenzied finger-pointing, but do kindly and maybe creatively defend a targeted victim. Bodhisattvas cannot be cool bystanders here.
Report ethically. Existing anti-harassment tools allow you to report harassment and block users. While they may not be effective, start there. Also apply inhibition in our online communication; avoid disinhibition, especially anonymous “toxic disinhibition”.
Practice compassion with the understanding and share the understanding that we are intimately interconnected. Assert interpersonal and real-people contexts in our online communications for those who don’t associate an avatar with a real, feeling person.
In Dr. Funie Hsu’s case, please do offer her encouragement and kind support. She is one courageous Buddhist. Do reassure her so that she knows a number of us are here to shield and protect as needed. If you notice any inappropriate comments on the Buddharma, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, or other sites where her writings appear, please observe the earlier recommendations. The latest good news is that NABA will be able to share Dr. Hsu's presentation with some personal details edited out. Look for the presentation at NABA's Youtube Channel.
Please contact Info @ North American Buddhist Alliance .org with your comments and questions.