Okay, friends, my apologies in advance but here I go again. Another rant. Is it very un-Buddhist of me to be so outraged? I don't know. But this is what's coming up for me, so here I go.
I'm not alone, surely, in concluding that the man who sits in our Oval Office--I still can't bring myself to dignify him with the title "President"--suffers from a debilitating and apparently irremediable character flaw: he seems constitutionally (!) unable to accept responsibility for anything. Ever. No matter what the circumstance. Thus, yesterday, in his mendacious remarks on the resignation of the man he had appointed to be this country's chief upholder of the law, he saw fit to blame others for having "dragged his name through the... [significant pause] mud, for political reasons," conveniently passing over his (Gonzalez's) incompetence, his rampant toadyism and his cavalier disregard for the truth; conveniently passing over his (Gonzalez's) role in the infamous torture memo, his willing participation in the abuse of those rights he was appointed to defend in the scurrilously misnamed Patriot Act, his trashing of centuries old human rights in the form of Habeas Corpus, his discreditable memory loss if not outright perjury before Senate and Congressional committees...
No matter all these and other transgressions of the law by the chief law officer of the land, he (Bush,) whose intransigeance has resulted in more bitter and fruitless partisanship than any other politician in living memory, had the gall to stand before the television cameras and impute it to others, in apparent denial or ignorance of his own partisanship and abject failures of judgment. Despicable, in my humble opinion.
This same man lays claim to salvation through religion. My question: does giving oneself to Jesus entail abdication of responsibility for oneself? I would hope not. It does seem, however, to lead certain of its practitioners into the habit of casting guilt and shame on those who do not share their rectitude. Am I guilty of hypocrisy here? My own "religion," such as it is, teaches (not preaches, please!) that our actions have consequences--the very subject of last Saturday's retreat: "dependent co-arising,"If this, then that. Good actions, springing from good intentions, lead to good outcomes. From those actions which prove, through their results, unskillful, we are invited to learn not to repeat them.
Seems like a good and healthy principle to me. It leaves no one to blame for anything that happens but myself. Such a revolutionary idea. I wonder, though, does this religion (Buddhism) deprive me of the right to be critical of those I perceive to be in error? I would hope not. But when I get so angry--as, today, at Bush--does it not behoove me to express that anger? Or does the expression of it result simply in more chaos and confusion in the world? Does my anger reflect the kind of rectitude, on my part, that I so readily attribute to them? A bit of a conundrum here, I think. But I would not wish to be silent in the face of what I see to be harmful unskillfulness on the part of others.