Been offered a job in wildlife management. Should I take it?

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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andrew73249
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Been offered a job in wildlife management. Should I take it?

Post by andrew73249 » Sat Sep 30, 2017 6:55 pm

I've just been offered a new job in state government. It's a great job, and my main motivation in taking the job is certainly a worldly one: to make a lot more money than I currently make. But now that the offer is on the table, I'm considering some of the ethical implications of the job from a Buddhist point of view.

The job is in a department responsible for enforcing laws related to fishing and hunting. While I would not directly perform any enforcement or wildlife management tasks, I would be supporting those who do via an administrative role. It could be argued that neither I nor the department cause the killing of animals, and it is certainly the case that the department works to prevent the unlawful killing of animals.

The problem is that I would indirectly be working to uphold laws that allow the killing of animals, including killing simply for sport. I know this is similar to the eternal debate over vegetarianism, but I think it has a somewhat different set of considerations. From a Buddhist point of view, would it be ethical to take the job that I've described?

I understand that any decision relating to ethics must ultimately be made by me alone, and based on what I find in my own heart. However, I am very interested in what more experienced Buddhists would say about this. Any insights or ideas would be helpful. Thanks very much. (I also posted this at dharmawheel.net, before I knew about these Theravada forums. My practice is more informed by Theravada though, so I hope it is OK to double post.)

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Sam Vara
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Re: Been offered a job in wildlife management. Should I take it?

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:57 pm

andrew73249 wrote:
Sat Sep 30, 2017 6:55 pm
It could be argued that neither I nor the department cause the killing of animals, and it is certainly the case that the department works to prevent the unlawful killing of animals.
On the basis of that sentence alone (assuming that the argument is valid and sincerely believed, of course!) then I personally would take the job. I'm open to correction on this, but I don't think that you would be breaking the first precept.

andrew73249
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Re: Been offered a job in wildlife management. Should I take it?

Post by andrew73249 » Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:33 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:57 pm
andrew73249 wrote:
Sat Sep 30, 2017 6:55 pm
It could be argued that neither I nor the department cause the killing of animals, and it is certainly the case that the department works to prevent the unlawful killing of animals.
On the basis of that sentence alone (assuming that the argument is valid and sincerely believed, of course!) then I personally would take the job. I'm open to correction on this, but I don't think that you would be breaking the first precept.
Thanks for your reply Sam. Yes, I do believe that the department does a net amount of good for the world. What makes me uneasy is the fact that I would be supporting the overall status quo whereby killing for sport takes place. A counterpoint is that I currently do nothing to protest or try to prevent the killing of animals except for not eating meat, so in a way I would be no more complicit in the killing of animals by taking this job than I am already. I don't know why my heart remains troubled though.

paul
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Re: Been offered a job in wildlife management. Should I take it?

Post by paul » Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:35 pm

"And what is right livelihood? Right livelihood, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right livelihood with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions; there is right livelihood that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.—-MN 117.

Taking the job would be ‘right livelihood with effluents’, that is there are two different degrees of right livelihood depending on one’s capacity to pursue the path due to karmic inheritance.

"Monks, a lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five? Business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison.
"These are the five types of business that a lay follower should not engage in.”—-AN 5: 177.

andrew73249
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Re: Been offered a job in wildlife management. Should I take it?

Post by andrew73249 » Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:56 pm

paul wrote:
Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:35 pm
"And what is right livelihood? Right livelihood, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right livelihood with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions; there is right livelihood that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.—-MN 117.

Taking the job would be ‘right livelihood with effluents’, that is there are two different degrees of right livelihood depending on one’s capacity to pursue the path due to karmic inheritance.

"Monks, a lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five? Business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison.
"These are the five types of business that a lay follower should not engage in.”—-AN 5: 177.
Thank you for your reply Paul. The problem is that the admonition to not engage in "business in meat" is open to a endless number of interpretations. Some jobs, like a farmer who slaughters pigs, are clearly in violation. For many jobs, it is much less clear. The job I'm talking about is particularly tricky because as a reasonable person, I could argue that the job actually opposes those engaged in the business of meat just as easily as I could argue that it is an indirect form of perpetuating and encouraging the business of meat.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Been offered a job in wildlife management. Should I take it?

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Sep 30, 2017 10:27 pm

andrew73249 wrote:
Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:33 pm
A counterpoint is that I currently do nothing to protest or try to prevent the killing of animals except for not eating meat, so in a way I would be no more complicit in the killing of animals by taking this job than I am already. I don't know why my heart remains troubled though.
Yes, and presumably if you pay taxes you are (like me) equally complicit in a lot of other stuff that your government gets up to. But still I see a distinction between that type of complicity (which undoubtedly troubles the heart) and the intention to kill animals. If I understand correctly, it is only that intention which has kammic significance. You don't take the job, or perform the tasks associated with it, intending to kill. Those who do the intentional killing entail the kammic consequences.

Whatever you decide, I wish you all the best, including an untroubled heart.

andrew73249
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Joined: Sat Sep 30, 2017 6:04 pm

Re: Been offered a job in wildlife management. Should I take it?

Post by andrew73249 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:45 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Sep 30, 2017 10:27 pm
andrew73249 wrote:
Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:33 pm
A counterpoint is that I currently do nothing to protest or try to prevent the killing of animals except for not eating meat, so in a way I would be no more complicit in the killing of animals by taking this job than I am already. I don't know why my heart remains troubled though.
Yes, and presumably if you pay taxes you are (like me) equally complicit in a lot of other stuff that your government gets up to. But still I see a distinction between that type of complicity (which undoubtedly troubles the heart) and the intention to kill animals. If I understand correctly, it is only that intention which has kammic significance. You don't take the job, or perform the tasks associated with it, intending to kill. Those who do the intentional killing entail the kammic consequences.

Whatever you decide, I wish you all the best, including an untroubled heart.
Thanks again Sam. My intention would certainly not be to kill, but in looking further at the operations of the department, I see that among their many research, outreach, and education activities, they organize sport hunting events for pen-raised game birds such as turkeys. Although there are valid conservation reasons for educating hunters and teaching them how to hunt in a lawful manner, I'm actually quite surprised that events like this still take place in the 21st century in a civilized society, let alone organized and sanctioned by the organization that I was about to work for. Although I personally would not be involved in this, I'm pretty sure now that I can't in good faith work for such an organization, and I hope that I have the courage to do the right thing despite the temptation of making more money.

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