Food for thought: Thou shalt not kill

I attended the St. Paul’s High School from the 2nd – 6th Standards after which the school was nationalized by the government. During that period I was exposed to Catholic religion and I also read about other Christian sects later. The above heading means “You shall not kill”. Killing is prohibited in the Christian religion, yet there were crusades to re-Christianize the Biblical areas that were under Muslim control. This conflict continued in Spain with the Moorish occupation and their uprooting with subsequent  Inquisition and persisted to the present, the occurrences we witnessed in Bosnia and Kosovo.

The killing for religion even continued within the Christian sects between Catholics and Protestants in Europe (France, Germany), England, Scotland and Ireland during the 16th and 17th centuries which led to the pilgrims escaping to the New World to escape persecution, till the recent past when we witnessed the events in northern Ireland between the Irish R Army and the British.

There has also been Mujahids throughout history since Saladin’s time till the current Al-Queda and related activities of Taliban and jamia islamia. There is also the unending struggle between Pakistan and India for religious reasons. Yet one also see conflicts between different Muslim sects of Sunni and Shites in Iraq, and also those between the Taliban and the Pakistan authorities.

All these killings of humans in the name of religion, even between different sects of the same religion is very difficult to understand, given the prohibition of killing by religious teaching.

As for Buddhism, killing of all life (including animals and insects) is considered to be a sin which one has to repay back in the next 500 lives. I do not know what the status of microbes are, yet, as a doctor, I have to kill pathogenic microorganisms with antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals, and also order and supervise the killings of mosquitoes and termites with insecticides. When I was posted to the Pharmacology Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Medicine I, Yangon, in 1981-2, one of my former teachers, Daw Ohn Htwe was still there as a Demonstrator. She, being deeply religious, refused to attend the Pharmacology post graduate course because she does not want to do animal experiments.

Throughout history, killing for political purposes are the Rule and even occurred in all countries between relatives, cousins, siblings and even patricide. The Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal was killed at his deathbed by his son. King AhlaungSithu အေလာင္းစည္သူ was smothered by his son Narathu နရသူ who later killed his elder brother the night after making him king. Asoka killed his relatives to get the crown. Bogyoke Aung San was also assassinated for political reasons. Recently, there was a near miss at Depeyin ဒီပဲရင္း.

Not only will those who kill, but also those who ordered the killings also have to pay for their deeds, either in this life or the next and the subsequent 499 lives. That was why General Saw Maung a religious man became worried and visited many pagodas in the later part of his term. He also brought the AhPePeik Buddha image to Yangon အပယ္ပိတ္ဘုရား ရန္ကုန္ပင့္. True Buddhists will know that one cannot fully wipe out the bad deed of killings by other good deeds.

There are still unrepentent ones in power who cling to their reign by terror and do not hesitate to kill. We had modern mass killings of unarmed civilians during 7-July 1962 and before, during and after the 8-8-88.

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