“Non-violent speech” – well, I blew that!

I have slandered someone’s good name on the Internet.  “I’m so sorry, Dr.___!”  “I’m so sorry, Thay!”

220px-Thich_Nhat_Hanh_12_Paris 2006
Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk – foremost proponent of mindfulness and “engaged Buddhism”.  My teacher – mostly at a long distance – for four years.  His students call him “Thay” (teacher).

I was so pissed-off at this fucking doctor that I convinced myself I had a right to name him (instead of “this doctor”) when I bitched about my medical care on the Internet.  “Hey, other people need to be protected from him – right?!

In the same blog post, I compared this “lousy doctor” with my “wonderful” primary physician.  It was only when one of my Facebook friends (and – really, I would say – a “real friend”, who I don’t see often) left a Comment on my post in which she attacked my beloved doc that I realized the impact of what I had just done.

“If I am so angry about what she just said about my doctor, then why would not some of this doctor’s patients be really hurt and angry to hear what I said about him?”

Included in the Buddhist teaching of non-violence is a point about “violent speech”: slandering someone, injuring their good name.  Good Buddhist that I have tried (sometimes) to be, this principle has always set a little uneasy with me – even while I can sense that it probably is right.  “What about freedom of speech?…  What about spontaneity?…What about consumer protection?…Sometimes saying someone is a bad apple is the only thing with integrity.”

Right…and if you buy those arguments as an excuse for doing damage to someone’s reputation, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

Published by Majo

These days all of my identities are converging: whether I am offering a blessing in the grocery store checkout line, offering a prayer in a poem or experiencing the kinship with all life while walking my or a client's dog - it's all the same. It's all Life.

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