22 May 2010

Poem for Humankind

Buddhadasa Bhikku 1906-1993

Poem for Humankind
by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu
(Late Abbot of Wat Suan Mok)

Translated by Susan F. Kepner

We should behave toward our fellow human beings as if they...
Were born, and will grow old, suffer and die, like us
Enduring the wheel of existence, of samsara
Living under the power of attachments, like us
Subject to desire, rage, and delusion, and
Careless in their ways, like us
Having no idea why they were born, as we have no idea
Stupid in some things, as we are sometimes stupid
Indulging their own whims, as we indulge ours
Wanting to be good, perhaps prominent, even famous
Taking advantage of opportunities to take advantage of others, like us.
They have the right to be crazy, to get drunk, to become obsessed
They are ordinary people who cling to this or that, as we do
They are under no obligation to suffer or die in our place
They are our fellow citizens, in secular and spiritual realms
They behave sometimes in haste, carelessly, like us
They have the duty to be responsible for their families, not for ours
The have the right to their own tastes, their own definition of well-being
They have the right to choose (even their religion) to suit themselves
They have the right to a share of public resources equal to our share
The right to be insane, in the world's opinion, as do we
The right to seek our help, and pity, and compassion
The right to our forgiveness, depending upon the merits of the case
The right to be socialists, or liberals,
To think of themselves before they think of others
They have the right to every right we claim, to live in this world.
Could we all but think this way, conflict and discord would not arise.

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