A few months ago I saw a notice of Zen center calling for volunteers to come in on Saturday to remove weeds from the lawn. I had trouble with the apparent picking and choosing in that, and asked the author if he also saw trouble in his invitation.
I received the response that he was celebrating the life that the weather has brought us, and he was looking for help to extinguish some forms of the life he was celebrating. He explained he was holding two opposing views at the same time, and that's OK. Also, he did not consider the plants that are in certain places to be "bad" plants, nor did he consider certain types of plants "bad" plants. He just had a preference for both the location and types of plants in the landscape, and so he was planning to take out some plants to enjoy others. He felt preferences are not bad per se. It's his relationship to his preferences that can cause suffering, not the preferences themselves.
I felt a bit like he was not seriously addressing the question of whether this weeding was really right action. But I also thought I was possibly being a bit immature in my concepts of picking and choosing and the related Buddhist sin.
Time passes and I am watching a PBS documentary called "Raccoon Nation". I learn that in Japan, an anime inspired the import of thousands of baby Raccoons, that, once, grown, fell from favor with their owners who released them in the woods to fend for themselves. Having no natural predators in Japan, their range and numbers have increased to large populations in and around very old Buddhist temples. They climb and scrape and ravage the temple wood looking for shelter and food and just being raccoony.
Then the really disturbing factoid came. Temples have adopted a "zero tolerance" for raccoons. They are trapped and killed at a rate of about 10,000 each year. I think this is behavior contrary to right action. How can a temple even call itself Buddhist if it has a policy to actively destroy such a higher, or any, life form.
I'm all for relative judgement, and I understand that precepts are guidelines and not rules, but still. Where is the graceful acceptance that temples are aggregates that will break down and fall away? Where is the graceful acceptance of the life of the raccoons. I'd wager there is a greater irony occurring, in that the Monks will not even eat the meat of the raccoons they have killed because of their, now hypocritical, stance on vegetarian meals.
Removing weeds because they are inconvenient, justified away with some Buddhist babble. Removing raccoons because they are inconvenient, and no doubt this is justified away with more Buddhist babble. There are times when even people have been removed by Buddhists because they are inconvenient, and this is, no doubt, justified away with even more Buddhist babble.