While chatting with friends on the ‘Agree to Disagree: Conversations on Conversion’ project (http://conversion.buddhists.sg) much earlier, I suggested doing something more handy and easy to use, for more swift dissuasion against the ways of manic street preachers. Below is the revised edition. I call it ‘The Happy Buddhist Card’. The card might still be coming up from an alternative source… as another separate project.
A friend recently expressed the need for such a card, when she encountered someone who quite forcibly sung a religious hymn in her face – in an elevator, about how a certain deity loves her! It was obvious it was to convert her, as the person knew she is Buddhist. My friend was taken aback but on hindsight wished she had the Happy Buddhist Card to show her… so that she would stop what she was doing!
I Am A Happy Buddhist
Just as I respect your beliefs, may you also respect mine,
by not sharing with me what I am not interested in.
Thank you for maintaining religious harmony.
May all be well and happy.
Amituofo, ___________ (Name/Signature)
With good will for the entire universe,
cultivate a boundless heart of love,
above, below, and all around,
unhindered, without enmity or hate.
– The Buddha (Metta Sutta)
Notes on Usage (Not on card):
1. Card is especially for the more elderly and less educated, who might not know how to fend off unwanted religious hassling in clear-cut way.
2. Card can be in double-sided sticker format for sticking on EZ-link cards or anywhere else.
3. To prevent wordiness, cards are either in English or Chinese only, and have a prominent picture of the Buddha to inspire the holders to carry it around in their wallets/bags – for ease of ‘flashing’ it to pushy street preachers. It can help to create a healthy sense of pride and ‘membership’ too.
4. Optional: Card can be numbered and registered with a registry of sorts, that can be created online. This is to make is more formal.
5. Optional: On the card, contact details (e.g. tel) can be added – for lodging complaints, for mediation.
6. This card is essentially not like a refuge certificate, but a handier reminder – for its holder, and especially those it is shown to, that the holder is Buddhist and would like to be left alone.
An application scenario for the less educated: An old lady is approached by someone on her way to the market, who invites her to his place of worship. She says she’s not interested, but the person is relentless. She then reaches for the card, to show it to him. He reads it, is surprised and backs off respectfully. The same can happen at a hospital too. The gise of the idea is that the card is a spokesperson for its holder, who might not know how to get his or her message across seriously but respectfully.
Another application scenario for the more educated: A cabbie relentlessly talks about his religion, despite not the passenger politely asking him to stop sharing. At a red light, the passenger shows him the card. As the cabbie realises he might receive a complaint, he stops being preachy. A halt to the preaching is achieved swiftly without needing to argue or be angry.