Sunday, November 21, 2010

Head in Sand?

For the first time I can remember, I could not bring myself to read the newspaper this morning. I got as far as the Frank Rich op-ed piece on the unstoppability of Sarah Palin and took a quick glance at the other headlines before deciding that I'd go no further. Perhaps it was in part a hangover from having watched a recording Jon Stewart's brilliant parody of a Glenn Beck report from the other night, purporting to expose George Soros's plan to overthrow America. I am so distressed and angered by this country's self-congratulatory decline into ignorance, self-interest, prejudice and fear that I could read no further. I'm just about ready to bury my head in the sand.

What's a Buddhist to do? Practice metta? Send out goodwill and compassion with the outbreath while meditating? I guess it's really a matter of sending out goodwill and compassion with each breath, no matter whether in meditation or not. Everyone, in the Buddhist view, is looking for happiness, each in our own way. It becomes a matter of deciding in what true happiness consists. Keeping Barack Obama in the White House? For many of my fellow citizens, it would seem to consist in putting Sarah Palin in there. Ellie was distraught, this morning, imagining the elegant Obama family moving out to make room for the rowdy and dysfunctional Palin gang.

So what's the "truth"? Where's the "true happiness"? For me, a part of it must include the well-being of other living beings--and not only the human species, but the millions of others with whom we share breathing space and whose lives we affect with the sheer dominance of our presence. I can only be "truly happy" when my personal happiness does not impinge on that of any other being. The political agenda of those currently in power, and those coming to power in Washington does not align with that definition. It's all about money and manipulation, about who can best whom and who can accumulate the greatest power. To our great detriment, we/they have lost sight of the common good.

All evidence to the contrary, it's hard for me to accept that I am powerless. To believe it means that I become the victim, a role I adamantly reject. I think about this in my daily practice, reciting in my mind those two phrases from the Sublime Attitudes: "May I be free from animosity; may I be free from oppression." I think of these two as opposite sides of the same coin. Animosity is what I put out into the world; oppression is what comes at me from out there. I need to find that place where I am equally free from both--the blame I lay on those with whom I disagree, including the Sarah Palins of this world; and allowing myself to become their victim.

Much though I'm tempted, I cannot bury my head in the sand. That, too, will not lead me to the kind of happiness I'm looking for in my life. Denial is not the answer. Clear-sightedness is--when accompanied by the ability to find equanimity. To observe these events calmly, perhaps, without attachment to the outcome. Which is not a feat that comes easily or naturally to me. It requires hard work, assiduous application.

Thanks for joining me in my rather sorrowful reflections on this Sunday morning. May we all find true happiness in our lives. May we all find the wisdom to recognize the seriousness and profundity--and the generosity--of that wish.



Try a re-read of the Sermon on the Mount for Happiness. Curiously while the English translation uses the word Blessed, the French translation uses Hereuses - Happy!!
Best wishes Peter!

mandt said...

Sarah may be the first woman to become President? Welcome to Thunderdome.

TaraDharma said...

wait...there's no way...except there was Ronald Reagan. Shoot. To use Sarah's words, "Lock and Load!"

Anonymous said...

sometimes the best thing seems to be, put the newspaper down, turn off the news pick up a pencil.
p.s. for a little fun go to the AAEC
political cartoonists website there is usually atleast one cartoon that uts politics into perspective.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks, Michael. In fact, the French "heureux" means both happy and lucky, right? Together, maybe blessed is "le mot juste"!

Thanks, MandT. But no thanks.

There was, yes, Tara. Ronald Reagan. I was among those who never dreamed he could be elected. Now I think the same about SP. Are we in trouble?

And thanks for the suggestion, Anon. A laugh is probably the best cure.

CHI SPHERE said...

"Sarah Palin's Alaska" Did she buy it with Rupert before she quit in a backdoor deal?

Is the branded candidate's motto "Good To Go" or as TaraDhara suggested "Lock and Load"? Hope her fame only lasts another 15 minutes. Sarah Plain Inc is more like it!

It's the branding stupid! I keep hoping this to be the code that other media will identify and debunk!

Thank God for the dog, I'm going for a long walk and try to avoid the quicksand near the bridge to nowhere!