Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Gonzales Resignation

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.


robin andrea said...

It's perfect and good to rant about these things. The very fact that these men run our country creates an ongoing cognitive dissonance. We know what is true and right about life, yet they insist on a reality that is horribly and dangerously false. Your deeply-lived religious life should not silence your convictions.

Paul said...

Just this morning I was talking to a friend about the nature of dreams, especially those in which the dreamer is naked. No one else seems to notice.

Comparing this very real dream called the Bush Administration to the "Emperor's New Clothes" had been done before, but it's so appropriate.

In the Beginning, there was at best 50% of the population that refused to see the Naked President. Instead, they saw the brilliant defender of Family Values and Freedom, a man who was going to save our country, first from the Godless Liberals, and then from the Terrorists Who Hate Our Freedoms (and who, apparently, don't believe in the Right God).

That population is getting smaller, but it really doesn't matter. It seems nothing will be done about it.

The theme of the Watergate hearings was the End does NOT justify the Means. Unfortunately, those who refuse to see the president as the moral and intellectual bankrupt he really is also insist that End certainly does justify any Means necessary.

Yet another lesson of Vietnam - as revealed through the Pentagon Papers - is that the government will lie to the citizens it serves as a means to an end. The lesson of the Bush administration is that many, many of this country's citizens don't mind being lied to. Of course it depends on who's doing the lying, doesn't it?

George Bush and his Puppeteers have used (subverted) religion as a Means to justify a number of Ends. But a Puppet can leap only so high as his handlers can reach. And it does appear that the Puppeteers are, little by little, abandoning the show.

Eventually, the theater will empty as the disillusioned crowd wanders home. But there will so much more to clean up than popcorn and sticky soda.

They call him James Ure said...

I agree with Robin. Since we are all interconnected we must stay politically active to ensure the best government that is possible.

The best government to reduce the greatest amount of suffering for not only humans but also for animals and the environment. That's my take on it. :)

As for Gonzo, I'm glad that he's gone too. Hopefully someone a little more responsible will be nominated to replace him. However, I don't have much hope in Bush if his past actions and nominations are indicators.

LB said...

Peter, surely expressing anger in a skillful way (which you do) is not against the precepts of Buddhism. In a world where people each take on responsibiity for their own actions and feelings, your anger is your own and will not create confusion and chaos in others.

Now, since Bush (and perhaps those who voted for him) lack an ability to accept responsibility, I'm not so sure. I would hope that your anger COULD cause chaos and confusion.

Cardozo said...

While pointing out incompetencies, corruption and injustice is good for stirring the ire of an apathetic public, I also believe that real change cannot be brought about without dispassionate, respectful and open-minded dialogue with those holding an opposing view.

We need to create more of those magical moments when somebody actually changes their mind on an issue...and this can only really be done through compassionate communication. While anger feels cathartic and inspiring to those on your side, it is likely to be aggravating and polarizing to people who disagree with the sentiment.

Robin said...

A child went to the movie with his mother.

On the screen, he saw a man hurting a puppy. He was angry and ran up to the screen and try to hit the man, only to realise that he is hitting a blank screen.

Allow me to share The serenity prayer that came to my mind:

Grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.

Hope this helps.... my pal

Gregor said...

Good post and important points being made.

I wouldn't worry about bottling up your sense of outrage in order to be a good "Buddhist", In fact speaking your truth and standing up for ethical justice is a much more Buddhist thing to be doing. It's not as if you are allowing yourself to be overcome with anger and doing harm because of it. Buddhism is a religion of action, in this present moment, and its perfectly skillful for us to ask questions of authority and demand accountability and right action from our government.

I appreciate your stand here and your resolve to be yourself and not suppress the truth in the name of a wimpy new age perversion of Buddhism.