A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Times change values don’t (part 1)

Today’s thought: “Human potential is the same for all. Your feeling, “I am of no value”, is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought – so what are you lacking? If you have willpower, then you can change anything. It is usually said that you are your own master.” H.H. The Dalai lama

Yesterday I posted the humorous incident about the new definition of love. Hearing it caused it had  me to reflect on what other changes there have been, during my life. There have been technological changes that when I was born, people would have said your crazy, if you had made as predictions. When Star Trek first aired in 1966, it was a show that caught peoples imaginations. It had a crew that was from the planet earth, not just the USA, during the height of the Cold War, they had a Russian. The communications officer was a female, imagine that 1966 and a front line officer for Lt. Uhura, played Nichelle Nicols who along with William Shatner, who played Capt. Kirk also had the first interracial kiss on television. The communicators they carried were the stuff of science fiction, today we have cell phones with the ability to not only transmit voices, but also data, as well as pictures. If you have a smartphone with the right app, it can also measure your pulse rate. Talking computers, exist, as do virtual friends or pets. You can even talk to your phone and it will do as you ask within certain limitations. So technology has made rapid progress. Some who have studied social behavioral trends, have looked at the influences of technology, and think it takes about 100 years for us to adapt to new technology. They have used the study of the effect of  artificial light as the basis for this conclusion.

With the rapid advance of technology we have out paced our ability to adapt to new ways of doing things. So lets look at the human side of this rapid progress. the core values of how we treat each other, haven’t changed. Whether you are Christian and follow the “Do onto others, as you would have done on to thyself”, or the Buddhist “As you do to others, so shall it be returned to you”. The other world religions teach similar values, just different phrases. Yet many people today behave differently while using these new technologies, than they would in person. Look at the news about how much behavior we deem abhorrent to civilized society is flourishing because of these technologies. Pedophiles, anarchists, slave traders, drug dealers, and con artists are flourishing with these technologies. Look at online dating, we all know at least one person if not more, that has attempted to find their someone this way. Yet the stories abound of fake pictures, married people posing as single, con artists looking for money, and recently drug cartels have made the news for using these sites to recruit unsuspecting people to be mules. They think they are meeting the love of their life, asked to help carry luggage across a border, and being caught with drugs in secret compartments. In some countries thousands of ladies, men and transvestites spend hours everyday online at dating sites, looking for people who they can gain the trust of, then either through short term affairs, made up crisis’s that require financial aid, to marriage long enough to emigrate to another country. In Thailand a whole new level of concubine has emerged. In the past there were many who had a mia yia or major wife, or in othe parts of Asia as a first wife. Then if they could afford it they had a mia noi, or minor wife, also known as a second wife. Today there are thousands of these ladies who we can say have developed a new class, the “Net Mai Noi” or Internet Minor Wife. These ladies claim not to be prostitutes, yet they sell their companionship to a series of men, one at a time for a few weeks or months. You can find the same lady on several sites, each with a story tailored to a different clientele. On a site featuring mainly Asian males she will say she was never married, while on sites catering to mainly Muslim or Orthodox Christians she is a widow. Yet on other sites she is divorced or just single. She will also change her educational background from secondary, to some University, to a Degree depending on the clientele of the site. This gives her the advantage at home with her native friends, of not working in a bar, thereby saving face for her family. She appears to be stuck with bad luck in finding an honest man, all the while gaining the same economic benefit of those who openly sell their bodies in the beer bars, massage parlors etc. Pity the honest lady who wants to find a guy, she will probably be met with guys looking only for a “Net Mai Noi”, then going home to their quiet life back home, with a wife and kids. These men will say it’s not about the sex, it’s about the relationship, that allows them to be who they really are. So open, honest communication is lacking in these relationships both abroad, and at home.

The two largest money makers on the net, sex and gambling. Even Facebook is now moving to provide access to gambling, in Britain only so far, but it’s a first step. In 2008 the internet gambling industry was reported to be in excess of $18,000,000,000 yes that is not a typo. This was the amount authorities world wide were able to track through credit cards, money transfers, and online pay options such as Paypal. For 2010 the estimate was $25,000,000,000, and by the end of this year over 40billion dollars worldwide. Which is why so many governments around the world now run their own gambling sites. They say this is to provide a safe site for gamblers, so as to avoid illegal operations, but with the house percentage of up to 50%, it is clear these governments are addicted to the revenues, and not concerned about the damage to individuals or families. For unlike bricks and mortar casinos that not only provide jobs, these online sites allow the patrons to be faceless, non-individuals, just a number with $$ signs attached. For the sex industry, the numbers are equally astounding, but I will leave you with a link rather than go through the details. http://www.familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics.html

All the world religions need to take a serious look at how they will respond to these new technologies and the challenges placed on our moral values. Tomorrow a look at how Buddhism can engage these new threats, while maintaining the values it has promoted for over 2500 years.

Also it is why I choose the quote from the Dalai lama for today, as when you are on the internet, what is your mind focused on?


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