Sunday, February 22, 2009

Obama a Chimp? & Ven S Dhammika's response

This is the comic that appeared on the New York Times that have caused an uproar in the United States in the past week:

Barack Obama monkey

This is Ven S. Dhammika's response:

Making A Monkey Of Him

I have read a news item saying that some newspaper in America has published a cartoon comparing President Obama to a monkey or at least that the cartoon could be read in that way. Apparently some people are up in arms about this. I haven’t seen the cartoon but this is my thinking on such matters. When it comes to political humor, it's 'no holes barred.' Some humor might be tasteless, insulting, unfunny or downright moronic but that reflects on the comic or the cartoonist, not the target. I strongly disapprove of throwing shoes at politicians, but only if you miss. And as far as being likened to a monkey goes, I think that should be seen as anything but an insult. The Bodhisattva was often reborn as a monkey and in that embodiment he demonstrated resourcefulness, courage, self-sacrifice, loyalty, leadership and other good qualities. Monkeys are, depending on the species, intelligent, they have close family bonds, the females are caring mothers, the males will protect the troop with their life if necessary and all this is a lot more than some humans do. Monkeys have lots of sex too but that's not so much a virtue as a fringe benefit. If you really want to cause offence, call a monkey a human and see what happens.There are quite a few Jatakas that suggest that humans could and should learn a thing or two from animals, including monkeys. In the Garahita Jataka a monkey (the Bodhisattva) is captured, kept as a pet, eventually escapes and returns to his monkey companions. The other monkeys ask him what human society is like and he tells it as it is. '"This gold is mine!" "This money is mine!" Thus they wail both day and night. These stupid humans do not see the Noble Dhamma.' When the monkeys hear this and about the other things humans do they put their hands over their ears.' In the Tayodhamma Jataka the Bodhisattva as a monkey is praised in these words, which I would like to address to President Obama. 'One who has three things, as you have Oh Monkey King - skill, courage and wisdom - he will banish his critics.'
Ven. Anandajoti helped me translate these Jataka verses and any mistakes are purely his responsibility.

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