William Hague and Buddhist Ethics

Rumours have been flying around the internet for weeks now about William Hague and his special advisor Chris Myers.  I had considered blogging about it a week ago but decided otherwise because it just felt wrong to give a greater airing to rumours and innuendo.  The issue also made me think about ‘The Noble Eightfold Path’, the ethical and mental guiding principles for Buddhists around the world.

Right speech is the first principle of ethical conduct in the eightfold path. Ethical conduct is viewed as a guideline to moral discipline, which supports the other principles of the path.  The importance of speech in the context of Buddhist ethics is obvious: words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace.  The Buddha explained right speech as follows:

1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully,

2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others,

3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and

4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth. Positively phrased, this means to tell the truth, to speak friendly, warm, and gently and to talk only when necessary.

Iain Dale believes that the recent online rumours about William Hague are a new low for political blogging in the UK.  Guido Fawkes’ allegations without evidence are surely an opportunity to pause to question the quality of debate online.  The easy option is to throw mud at opposition politicians but is this really the quality of debate we want to see from UK political bloggers?  Do we want to recreate the tone of political debate witnessed across the pond?

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