Religion and ethnic groups

My religion of choice for this paper is Buddhism. Unlike most other religions, Buddhism does not have a savior or an omnipresent God like Christianity. The relationship between a follower, or disciple, and the Buddha is the same as a teacher has with his or her students. Buddhists place more emphasis on self-discipline and self-reliance rather than having blind faith. Buddhists are accepting of all other religions and faiths. They are all about reasoning, understanding, and exploration. Where Christianity seeks to convert other religions to their own, Buddhists do not.

Buddhists believe in Karma; Karma is the belief in rebirth as a potentially endless series of worldly existences. In America, we have come to know karma by the phrase, “What goes around comes around.” Even though every American is not a disciple of Buddha, they still have a sense of good and evil.

They feel that good deeds beget good deeds and that is usually enough to make most people think twice before they act. This way of thinking is a primary teaching of Buddha. Even though Buddhists are peaceful and reserved, prejudice and discrimination still haunt them. In 2006 the Chung Tai Buddhist Group applied to build a worship and meditation center in the city of Walnut California. They were denied by the City Planning Commission due to the fact that it would cause excess noise and traffic.

However, the same planning commission approved a plan for the Catholic Church to build on the same plot of land. To me, that is a clear cut case of discrimination against the Buddhists. While looking into the practices and believes of Buddhism, I have developed a different opinion of them. As most of what I thought I knew came from media spins and my own observations, my views were more than slightly distorted. During my research I learned that they do not actually worship Buddha as a God, instead they learn from him and follow his teachings and improve themselves through meditation.

I chose they Asian ethnic group primarily because of the relationship they have with the religion I chose and because I love Asian food. Asian people differ from other ethnic groups by skin tone, facial features, religions and language. Their culture is very different as well, for example, I was in Hong Kong during a deployment and noticed that everything seemed more whimsical and fun by having a lot of cartoons and bright colors everywhere. Asian culture is very prevalent in America, and it’s becoming more and more popular. According to a 2003 survey by Robert Wuthnow, 30 percent of Americans report being at least somewhat familiar with Buddhist teachings and 22 percent claim similar familiarity with Hindu teachings.

Along with being discriminated against for the religion they choose, Asians are discriminated based on how they look and act. Severe acts of discrimination and racism—pogroms, massacres, mass expulsions and near-genocidal policies—were perpetrated against the Chinese based on the fact that they were different. On September 25 1885 there was a riot in Rock Spring, Wyoming where many Chinese people were killed. Upon investigation, there was no clear reason on why the massacre happened. It seemed to be completely based on race. The reason the Chinese originally came to America was because of the California Gold Rush. They were hard workers that worked for little pay.

Through my research into the Asian culture I have gained a better understanding of how they live and the struggles they have went through. Many of the same prejudices that the Buddhists endure are shared with the Asian culture, as Buddhism is their main religion. I now understand a little bit of what Asian individuals have had to deal with in order live in our country. They add a very unique quality to the American culture and make it what it is today.

These two groups have experienced prejudiced and discrimination throughout history. They understand what it is like to have your privileges and liberty stripped away by other groups. Even today these two collections still have to face these issues, but things have changed in the past few decades.

The Buddhists were discriminated against for their beliefs while the Asians had to deal with prejudice from Americans blaming them for the cheap labor that affected the US labor force. There can be many different reasons why one group would discriminate against another. The fact of the matter is discrimination will be around as long as there are people who think themselves better than others. To fight discrimination, I feel we must put out own feelings aside so we can better understand the feelings of others.

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