My thanks to all who took the time and trouble to respond to yesterday's entry about the Oscars! It's great to have the sense that this is more than a monologue! An aside to my Taoist friend: I'm happy to have to keep going back to the definitions and the texts. Perhaps it's the aging brain cells, but my memory blurs things very easily, and it's at once humbling and refreshing to be the constant student. And that, as I understand it, is in good part what the practice is all about: learning, testing, unlearning, relearning--until some small part of it sinks in. Samsara does seem to necessitate a belief in rebirth; but until I reach that point, I still find the concept useful and compelling, since it describes so well that cycle through the sometimes painful paths of life that we all know so well. The treadmill, if you will.
But, forgive me, I was going to get back on my political hobby-horse today. The Middle East mess. Talk about unskillful! The high-handed, ham-fisted administration we have misguidedly placed in office in Washington, DC, could hardly handle its diplomatic efforts in the world with less subtlety and imagination, or with less sensitivity to its allies--or indeed its enemies--in the world out there. To send Dick Cheney, of all people, to deliver a public rebuke to Pakistan's President Musharraf about his failure to control the Taliban seems to me the height of blinkered arrogance. After its own failure to take care of the Taliban and the Al Qaeda cadre it protected in Afghanistan, at a time when that was possible, the Bush administration has the gall to humiliate Musharraf for the same failure.
Okay, I understand that Musharraf has made his own blunders--most notably in that agreement with the tribal leaders last fall to give them free rein in their territories--and has allowed himself to be blown around by the winds of powerful extremist religious forces in his own country. But we might say that Bush has done the same. And given that political reality with which Musharraf has to deal in predomnantly Muslim Pakistan, this kind of heavyweight public scolding only serves to shame him in front of his own people and stiffen the resolve of the extremists. we're asking him to fight To send for this task the Bully-in-Chief behind the pulpit, Dick Cheney, whose devotion to American hegemony in the world--by military force if necessary--is well known, is to pile on the insult. Is it any wonder that this "surprise visit" yielded nothing but protests that "we have done all we can", and further animosityin the Muslim world?
It's hard to know what to do with this nagging conviction that things are going badly wrong with the human species and the world that we inhabit--and that we Americans, in the name of freedom and democracy--are doing more than our fair share to make them worse. To wash one's hands of the whole mess, park one's rear end on the cushion and practice one's Buddhist equanimity seems almost irresponsible in the face of the enormity of the consequences of inaction. At the same time, I have to recognize the limits to what I can do. Chalk it up to samsara, I guess, and send out metta to those in the world whose actions are the cause of these disastrous consequences. Which may be good for the heart, but I have to say that the brain remains dissatisfied.