Awakening to the Reality of Suffering in the World

by Mark Chmiel

Dear Friends,

The original 4th precept of the Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing reads, “Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering by all means, including personal contact and visits, images, sound. By such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.”

Accordingly, Chris Wallach and I invite you to join us in reading and discussing Fred Wilcox’s book, Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam. Here is some information on the book:

Scorched Earth is the first book to chronicle the effects of chemical warfare on the Vietnamese people and their environment, where, even today, more than 3 million people—including 500,000 children—are sick and dying from birth defects, cancer, and other illnesses that can be directly traced to Agent Orange/dioxin exposure. Weaving first-person accounts with original research, Vietnam War scholar Fred A. Wilcox examines long-term consequences for future generations, laying bare the ongoing monumental tragedy in Vietnam, and calls for the United States government to finally admit its role in chemical warfare in Vietnam. Wilcox also warns readers that unless we stop poisoning our air, food, and water supplies, the cancer epidemic in the United States and other countries will only worsen, and he urgently demands the chemical manufacturers of Agent Orange to compensate the victims of their greed and to stop using the Earth’s rivers, lakes, and oceans as toxic waste dumps. Vietnam has chosen August 10—the day that the US began spraying Agent Orange on Vietnam—as Agent Orange Day, to commemorate all its citizens who were affected by the deadly chemical. Scorched Earth will be released upon the third anniversary of this day, in honor of all those whose families have suffered, and continue to suffer, from this tragedy.

We will begin in April and will meet from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. on the third Saturday of the month (April 16) at New City School, 5209 Waterman Boulevard 63108). We will discuss the introduction, and chapters 1 and 2. Used copies are available at amazon.com, starting at $3.99.

Our hope is that by learning and reflecting together, we can discern a way to respond to this suffering—as members of the St. Louis Mindfulness Sangha and as U.S. citizens.

Please let me know if you are interested in joining us (Markjchmiel@gmail.com).

Present moment, only moment,

Mark

Scorched Earth cover

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