Saturday, January 28, 2012

Three Perfect Candidates: Political Pacifism

I sat three periods of zazen this morning. I needed that, considering the amount of controversy that has passed in front of me this week. Some of it started when my long-time friend of 49 years, Miss S., called Rick Santorum an asshole. My zen teacher calls us all buddha. How can someone be buddha and an asshole? If that wasn't bad enough, my best commenter-to-my-blog-friend, Kate, said that asshole is pretty tame. She went on to say what might have a little more impact.
I think ‘demonizing’ goes more like, “He is too evil to rot in hell for all eternity. He is Cain, cursed to walk the earth until the end of time. The only reason he looks relatively young is because he eats aborted baby dumplings all the time. If he were Buddhist, he could look forward to being reborn as a maggot in a pile of crap. Farts are too good for him.”
I asked my palates teacher to rename "bomber wings" to "angel wings" in my effort to quiet things down. She complied.

As I sat this morning, I thought (what everyone does even though we are told to follow our breath) about how the Dalai Lama doesn't seem to have anger toward the Chinese who have removed him from his homeland. He writes,
Anger is the real destroyer of our good human qualities; an enemy with a weapon cannot destroy these qualities, but anger can. Anger is our real enemy.
So why do I say that we have three perfect candidates? One makes too much money and doesn't give enough of it back to the other 99.9%. The second has ethical issues. And the third calls a baby that resulted from a rape "a gift" (though he adds the adjective, "broken"). One might say of this almost biblical tale, that these are despicable human beings, using some of Kate's metaphors.

But no, this is an opportunity to see who we are in the face of our dislikes. These men are our brothers. We are part of the same spaceship, whirling through space. Our problems are their problems. They have a different perspective than we might have. But are they fodder for anger? Is anything?

Anger gets in the way of love. It eats at us until we are sick. It keeps us from enjoying life.

"Well, why don't they just change their views and pay more taxes, and then I'll be happier?" you say. That may happen, but then someone else will say or do something that will offend us and we'll be cranky all over again.

We can choose to respond differently.

In some studies done by scientists invited by the Dalai Lama to Northern India it is shown that thinking can change the brain. We can choose not to complain and we can choose not to be angry. The amazing part of this is that we stop being angry people. Our hearts can open up to our brothers and sisters, and we can talk to them rather that throw darts at them. I love that line in the Lord's Prayer, "And forgive us our trespasses,: as we forgive them that trespass against us." It is much easier to be angry. And you need to remember that anger goes in both direction. Buddha said (heard this today in a dharma talk) that when you put more wood on a fire it gets hotter.


M said...

I love this post. I'm glad that you're one of the people who will raise our baby.

Kate Freeman said...

Anger gets in the way of love. --- Mr. Kim

So does being too serious. Come on. You didn’t laugh at ‘Farts are too good for him’. That’s funny stuff.

We can choose to respond differently. --- Mr. Kim

Yeah. . . You can.

We can choose not to complain and we can choose not to be angry. --- Mr. Kim

Did you think I was angry when I wrote ‘Farts are too good for him’? I mean . . . really?

Calling someone an asshole is very low level ‘demonizing’. Let the people dissipate a bit of anger by using asshole as a noun. It’s not something to get riled up about. When you start to hear people talking about how they are not human. They’re animals. . . Then we can talk about ‘demonizing’.

Kim Mosley said...

The name calling I'm referring to was more one candidate against another, and Republicians against Democrats (and Demos vs Repubs).

You're right about being too serious.

Kate Freeman said...

Right. . . But yet you used my post to develop your argument about the non-necessity of anger.

We can choose not to complain and we can choose not to be angry. --- Mr. Kim

How is ‘choosing not to complain’ different from ‘apathy’ and/or ‘complacency’?

In all seriousness now.

I think the reason I don’t think your friend S. calling one politician an asshole after he says something that S. doesn’t agree with seems ‘not so bad’ to me is because I hear a different kind of ‘demonization’ repeatedly around me that I think is far more destructive.

There’s this documentary being made about my hometown. According to the Post Dispatch the decline of my home into “urban ghetto” like conditions is due to a higher concentration of Section 8 in the area compared to most other areas. When I ask people around me if they feel this is true, most do feel it is true. But what is actually far more fascinating to me is the associations people openly make with Section 8.

“Those people are dirty.”

“Those people have no respect for property.”

“They keep having babies so they can get more money from the government.”

“They are criminals.”

“They walk around with automatic weapons.”

And a sweet little old lady at my quilter’s group actually said, “They’re animals.”

What nobody says out loud is that when they think of Section 8 recipients, they think of black people. By doing this they are not ‘being racist’. They just have a problem with welfare recipients. What bothers me about the situation. . . I think every black person in my neighborhood is viewed as a welfare recipient whether they are or not. And what these people who make these kinds of associations with Section 8 don’t realize is that I ALREADY KNOW that the stereotype for a black person is ‘criminal, violent, welfare recipient’. But yet it’s not about race . . . Even the documentary maker makes such comments.

Morton said in a recent telephone interview from Los Angeles. "I came away convinced that this is not an issue of race but of class and opportunities." <-- From the Post

I have people around me that are ‘demonizing’ an entire group of people. . . Dehumanizing them even. . . And I can’t even get people to admit that this might be a race issue. We are not even allowed to talk about things in those terms.

I can choose not to complain. I can choose not to get angry. . . But if I am expected to let all this just slide right off my back . . . repeatedly . . . then you have to forgive me if S. calling one politician an asshole doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.

Joshua, 1980