Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No, Brad you must get your hands dirty...

Brad Warner sometimes is spot on with what he says, particularly about Buddhist trendiness and other nonsense pretending to be Buddhist.

But he's not exactly spot on here...(which I found through his blog of course.)

It’s none of my business who you vote for. I’m sure you agree with that. But I’ve been pretty horrified by what I’ve seen from a number of American Buddhist teachers who think it is their business. Way too many Buddhist teachers and Buddhist centers in this country think that Buddhism and liberal politics are one and the same. Four years ago when Dubya won a second term I was contacted about contributing to a book about “Buddhist reactions to the re-election.” Writers were invited to talk about feelings of loss, disenfranchisement, and powerlessness as if not a single Buddhist in the United States had supported the Bush campaign. I wanted to write about how amazing Bush was just to provide some balance. Trey Parker said the most punk rock thing you could do in LA was walk into a party and say, “I think George Bush is awesome!” Same in the world of American Buddhism. The book never came out. Good.

My own teacher’s teacher, Kodo Sawaki, said, “The right wing is completely wrong. The left wing is also completely wrong.”

Both wings may be completely wrong, but that doesn't mean that there isn't one obvious choice to make. There is one path more likely to lead to greater suffering than another.

I don't have time or space for a digression on existentialist ethics here, but to me Buddhism is heavily informed by existentialist ethics starting from the position that we're all in this together.

We're going to get our hands dirty one way or the other. No choice is indeed a choice. Obama's nuclear policy will almost certainly backfire at one point, but will likely lead to less starvation overall.

So while I can sympathize with Warner when he says:

Just don’t get your panties in a bunch if your guy loses or celebrate the ultimate triumph of good over evil if he wins. I‘m sure all of you politicos reading this will say you already know that. But any scan of the TV when the results are announced will prove otherwise. All that elation and all that hopelessness ripple outward like a wave.

I would also emphasize that what is going on right now in the United States is, to put von Clauswitz's dictum backwards war continued by other means. It's a surrogate virtual civil war, dammit.

And the stakes really are that high, and to take a "punk" insouciant attitude is simply not possible if you're paying attention.

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