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Buddhism and AIDS

Dear Editor,

Irefer to the letter in the Post, September 1, by Bora Touch and his frustration

with the Ven. Tep Vong's statement about people with AIDS related illness.

Statements like Ven. Vong's make us realise how much fear and insecurity Cambodian

people have endured.

Cambodians are in fear because there are many guns that are in the hands of the wrong

men, they fear that they may not have enough food to survive the next day and now

they even fear the virus, also a deadly weapon, that can be carried by innocent people

of both sexes and all ages including the rich and the poor, the city and the rural


And there is little they can do, which means the hungry will not get fed and the

sick will not get cared for, so what sort of a society is this going to be?

Ven. Vong's statement lets us realise how many people have similar beliefs and how

much of our hard work should contribute to helping them to understand and learn to

start to question the consequences.

Is it children's fault that they were born of parents with HIV/AIDs? Or is it a wife's

fault that her husband passed the AIDs virus to her? Or is it a woman's fault that

she was pushed by social, political, and economic factors into prostitution just

for her and her family to survive?

Perhaps we should not be wasting our time blaming others or religion. Buddhism, like

any religion, is a social control mechanism.

Religions have both positive and negative aspects. Those aspects have deeply influenced

people because they may have reflected the realities and have had important functions

in the societies at that time perhaps before the modern world crashed in.

Some may think that it is out of date, but for some it has become an important source

of their security which they otherwise could not find elsewhere.

It could be seen as an act of cruelty to take people away from their security, instead,

we can help them to interpret Karma as Buddha meant it.

It really means the projection of love, care, respect for one another's differences,

and condemnation of the ones who take advantage of people's goodwill. In return we

create a "harmonious society". This is an institution that we should build.

We should try to take a new, positive approach towards our society by building a

solid one within ourselves.

War that has torn Cambodian society and many other societies has arisen from the

lack of care and respect for one another and this selfishness has divided city from

the rural, the poor from the rich, the young one from the old one.

It is important for us to help people to understand, but we cannot make them. It

requires time, patience and sympathy towards the situations. Nothing good comes out

of frustration and anger.

- Amara Chey, Via email



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