Been offered a job ... don't know if it is consistent with Buddhist ethics

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andrew73249
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Been offered a job ... don't know if it is consistent with Buddhist ethics

Post by andrew73249 » Fri Sep 29, 2017 12:15 am

I've become much more serious about Buddhism recently, including in my practice, study, vegetarianism, and in my attempts to find a teacher and community. (So far I have not found a teacher or community that I've really "connected" with.) In the midst of this, I've just been offered a new job. The job is not exactly that of a game warden, but it is similar enough for purposes of this discussion; essentially someone whose job is to enforce laws relating to fishing and hunting.

My question for anyone reading is this: Is a game warden someone whose livelihood is consistent with Buddhist principles whereby no sentient beings should be harmed? On the one hand, it could be argued that a game warden is someone who protects fish and wildlife and against unlawful fishing and hunting practices. On the other hand, a game warden clearly perpetuates the status quo whereby fish, deer, and all kinds of game animals are killed, oftentimes simply for sport.

I understand that any decision relating to ethics must ultimately be made by me alone, and what I find in my own heart. However, I am very interested in what more experienced Buddhists would say about this. Any insight would be helpful. Thanks very much.

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jkarlins
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Re: Been offered a job ... don't know if it is consistent with Buddhist ethics

Post by jkarlins » Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:20 am

My sense is that it is ok.

Go with your gut. You probably have some feeling for whether it's harmful or not. Keeping in mind that no job is perfect, all involve some harm.

With work, I do think some jobs are worth avoiding (being involved in making weapons, for example). Although if you have to for a time, it's workable. Then, the question is really about specific decisions made on the job, and if they are ethical, so are you misleading others, stealing in some way, using wrong speech, and so on.

Jake

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Jesse
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Re: Been offered a job ... don't know if it is consistent with Buddhist ethics

Post by Jesse » Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:35 pm

Actually, game and animal wardens STOP the status quo. The status quo are people who would keep hunting, and hunting, and fishing until every last animal went extinct.

Animal wardens are there to protect animal populations from overhunting, etc.

I've known plenty of hunters, most which hate wardens, same goes with fishers.. they will hide any illegal fish just in case they get pulled over by the game wardens.

If you are concerned about it being a job that Buddhism would consider wrong livelihood, then I wouldn't worry about it. It's not. You are preventing animal deaths, and stopping people from depriving animals of life before a certain age (Fish mainly), fish have to be a certain size to take them, this ensures that they lay enough eggs in their life-time that taking one wont hurt the population. (well lay eggs, or 'pollinate' :quoteunquote: enough eggs (for male fish).
:alien:
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andrew73249
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Re: Been offered a job ... don't know if it is consistent with Buddhist ethics

Post by andrew73249 » Fri Sep 29, 2017 6:33 pm

jkarlins wrote:
Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:20 am
My sense is that it is ok.

Go with your gut. You probably have some feeling for whether it's harmful or not. Keeping in mind that no job is perfect, all involve some harm.

With work, I do think some jobs are worth avoiding (being involved in making weapons, for example). Although if you have to for a time, it's workable. Then, the question is really about specific decisions made on the job, and if they are ethical, so are you misleading others, stealing in some way, using wrong speech, and so on.

Jake
Thanks for your reply Jake. Your comments remind me that almost any act (or failure to act) can probably be construed as harmful to another sentient being in some way, and that it is not skillful to agonize endlessly over everything. The example of making weapons makes me realize that any job gives me the power to do good things as well as harmful things, and that it's important to consider the good things too.

At the risk of going with an extreme hypothetical situation: consider the president or leader of a powerful country. Is it unethical to hold such a job? The amount of incredibly harmful things and incredibly helpful things that such a person is directly and indirectly responsible for is mind boggling. I wonder what the Buddhist advice for someone in such a position would be.

andrew73249
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Re: Been offered a job ... don't know if it is consistent with Buddhist ethics

Post by andrew73249 » Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:05 pm

Jesse wrote:
Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:35 pm
Actually, game and animal wardens STOP the status quo. The status quo are people who would keep hunting, and hunting, and fishing until every last animal went extinct.

Animal wardens are there to protect animal populations from overhunting, etc.

I've known plenty of hunters, most which hate wardens, same goes with fishers.. they will hide any illegal fish just in case they get pulled over by the game wardens.

If you are concerned about it being a job that Buddhism would consider wrong livelihood, then I wouldn't worry about it. It's not. You are preventing animal deaths, and stopping people from depriving animals of life before a certain age (Fish mainly), fish have to be a certain size to take them, this ensures that they lay enough eggs in their life-time that taking one wont hurt the population. (well lay eggs, or 'pollinate' :quoteunquote: enough eggs (for male fish).
Thanks for your reply Jesse. Yes, there is certainly a "good side" to what game wardens do: they're responsible for protecting fish and game from unlawful killing, and for promoting their conservation. I'm grappling with the other side of the equation though: game wardens are responsible for upholding the laws that allow killing for sport. I'm trying to figure out to what extent upholding such laws constitutes harmful, un-Buddhist actions. Perhaps the good outweighs the bad. I'm not sure.

It's strange because if the law stated that no animals may ever be killed, and the job of a game warden was simply to enforce that law, then I would have no question about the ethics. I suppose one could argue that the game warden is not responsible for writing the laws, and they simply protect animals as best they can given the law. That makes me uneasy though, because it sounds like a "I was just following orders" defense. For example, the government official on trial for crimes against humanity might say "I allowed the murder of 75% of the people because that was the government's policy, but I knew it was wrong and I did my best to save the other 25%."

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Wayfarer
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Re: Been offered a job ... don't know if it is consistent with Buddhist ethics

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:36 pm

It is an interesting question! I would say, see it as the upholding of laws to protect wildlife and mitigate harm - helping critters, rather than assisting the hunters.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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jkarlins
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Re: Been offered a job ... don't know if it is consistent with Buddhist ethics

Post by jkarlins » Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:43 pm

andrew73249 wrote:
Fri Sep 29, 2017 6:33 pm
jkarlins wrote:
Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:20 am
My sense is that it is ok.

Go with your gut. You probably have some feeling for whether it's harmful or not. Keeping in mind that no job is perfect, all involve some harm.

With work, I do think some jobs are worth avoiding (being involved in making weapons, for example). Although if you have to for a time, it's workable. Then, the question is really about specific decisions made on the job, and if they are ethical, so are you misleading others, stealing in some way, using wrong speech, and so on.

Jake
Thanks for your reply Jake. Your comments remind me that almost any act (or failure to act) can probably be construed as harmful to another sentient being in some way, and that it is not skillful to agonize endlessly over everything. The example of making weapons makes me realize that any job gives me the power to do good things as well as harmful things, and that it's important to consider the good things too.

At the risk of going with an extreme hypothetical situation: consider the president or leader of a powerful country. Is it unethical to hold such a job? The amount of incredibly harmful things and incredibly helpful things that such a person is directly and indirectly responsible for is mind boggling. I wonder what the Buddhist advice for someone in such a position would be.
No idea, but the not agonizing thing seems on point.

It is a big responsibility. I believe there are some teachings on being a wise ruler, beyond the normal stuff on the precepts, paramitas and so on.

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