Via Reverend Fisher, I came across an article by that name by one James Baraz of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre CA. Mr. Baraz is a board member of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, an organization I generally admire. Let's do some right speech here...
Our country spends 60 percent of its budget on the military and more than the next dozen nations combined. Is it just a coincidence that we have so many civilian gun killings? Pima County sheriff Clarence Dupnik sarcastically commenting on the easy access to guns said, "What will be next -- Uzis in kids' cribs?" Yet, we were still shocked.
I sort of agree: the military budget crowds out things that would be vastly cheaper if they were made part of the commons, including but not limited to universal access to health care, including mental health care., as well as means to help people avoid dire straits. Moreover, the stigmatization of the "other" including the mentally ill is the stigmatization of the "other" that leads to war: it is maintaining a deadly illusion of separateness. But the Uzis in kids' cribs line, that might be an Arizona issue, where it seems the common assumption is anyone can carry guns anywhere. That's not a good recipe, I'd opine.
Every human being wants to feel safe and have peace. That's a tall order in a culture that glorifies violence.
Culture is not separate from one. This, too, is a stigmatization of "the other."
The Buddha ...taught, "Hatred never ceases by hatred. Hatred only ceases by love. This is an ancient and eternal law."
When the news about the shootings first came out, many assumed that right wing conspirators were behind it. That conclusion led to outrage. Later, when it became obvious that the killer was mentally unstable, the outrage lessened a bit, at least toward the suspect, because he was clearly confused. Even though what he was doing made sense to him, he was ignorant of his actions on some level because he was out of touch with reality.
It is not at all clear to me that those who exhibited the most outrage in the media weren't faking it. Some of them, such as Glenn Beck, have been known to feign emotion in the past, even doing the onion-to-make-you-cry thing. Too, I think even now it's a bit early to tell how ignorant Mr. Loughner was of his actions. And, as I've stated in the past, it's a bit early to tell how willfully blind or not his immediate friends and loved ones were to his behavior. It's more complex than Mr. Baraz lets on here, to say the least.
The real villain is in this story is not Jared Loughner. It's not the media. And it's not the gun rights advocates. The real villain is ignorance. Because of ignorance, people project their fear and turn those who are different into enemies -- both in their minds and in actuality...
Recognizing separation is, as I've shown, very tricky business. In fact, even putting this in the framework of "A Buddhist Perspective" is itself a kind of separation. I have found over and over and over and over again that it is imperative that when a Buddhist wants to use Buddhist practices to make peace with non-Buddhists, it's a good idea to speak past the psychologizing and philosphizing and stick to the observable and agreeable.
Right now, this tragedy is capturing our attention. Can anything good come from it? Unfortunately, Columbine and the shooting spree at Virginia Tech had little effect on the access to guns by anyone including the mentally unstable. The NRA is stronger than ever. And the cowboy mindset in this country, from our military budget to Second Amendment advocates, is still entrenched in our psyche...
And those words ain't helping, in my experience, as I've explained above.
Each of us has love and hatred within us. The more we can be aware of how our own anger and ill will colors our thoughts, words and actions, the greater the chance for real transformation within ourselves. That transformation can lead to genuinely understanding how the confusion of an individual or a group could create greater pain and sorrow for themselves and others. When we can see the real villain as ignorance, we can stop demonizing "the other side." Then our words and actions, based in clarity and compassion, minus the hate, will be more effective and be part of a larger transformation in human consciousness.
To whom is Mr. Baraz speaking? Is he speaking to an NRA member? Is this what he would say? What does he think the NRA member's response would be? I have an idea, based on right-wingers I have known and know. It wouldn't be "You feel you need your guns because you're ignorant and need to replace your anger with love." These words, or more to the point Mr. Baraz' words are highly ineffective in changing society, because society will not be changed by a "Buddhist" analysis that still separates "us" from "them," but rather meets people where they are and challenges them to go beyond the politics and rhetoric, not with a quietist acquiescence, but with an engagement that doesn't point out the flaw in the other but rather makes pointing out such differences unnecessary in the first place.