Eradicating Malaria while Buddhist

Here is an anecdote from my first book, Common Sense and Whiskey, about a stay in Thimpu, the capital of the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon, Bhutan:

“Stray dogs (I think about eight billion) gave a free, full-throated concert most nights. Strays are the bane of Bhutan, just like in Kathmandu and Rangoon and Tahiti.

Being Buddhist, the Bhutanese have a little problem. They can’t kill the strays, can’t even spay them. That would be taking a life. But they can appoint Indian Hindus as dog catchers, and have them kill dogs on the pretense of rabies or rash.”

And here is a story from the BBC about another Buddhist conundrum, the problem of wiping out malaria in a land where “killing any life form, even a disease-carrying mosquito,” is not okay. A quote:

“One interesting challenge in Bhutan was the Buddhist aversion, in this deeply religious country, to killing any life form, even a disease-carrying mosquito. Thus the officials spraying buildings with insecticide had to reframe this practice. Rinzin Namgay, Bhutan’s first entomologist, laughs when he remembers that they would tell anxious homeowners during IRS: ‘We’re just spraying the house. If a mosquito wants to commit suicide by coming in, let it.’”

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