Monday, April 21, 2014

Watch where you're aiming that thing. You could hurt yourself.

One of the best things about the internet is that it is possible to juxtapose things that in their "native" contexts would not be against one another; you can contextualize almost anything with anything.

Here's a few links today:

I could link more, but I have enough links here to make my point, or rather points:

  • Inviting the wealthy to tread a path that transforms greed, hatred, and ignorance into wisdom, generosity and love is not a harmful or bad thing.
  • That said, that path needs to involve ethical behavior.  That includes concepts of great compassion (大悲, だいじ ),  and benevolence 慈悲心 (じひしん) or  (仁、じん ).
  • I haven't taken any polls, and have no demographic information per se, but I would wager the folks who are going to those Wisdom 2.0 conferences as well as the large majority of folks working in that imaginary Oz called "Silicon Valley"  are in agreement with the above points, as well as their critics.   Why do I say this? Well, for one thing,  though I'm not "in the Valley," I am not doing badly relative to most of the country and I agree with most of the critics.  Yeah, I'm one data point, but I know other people too, evidently.    Plus, in the "Wisdom 2.0" link above there's a quote from New Age person Marianne Williamson - I suspect her tirade about wealth was not badly received, at least because the article doesn't mention an adverse reaction on the part of her audience.
Which brings me to my main point: the real, ultimate issue in the wealth disparity issue is not addressed by attacking your natural allies, just as racism, religious bigotry,  and sexual identity oppression are not addressed by attacking one's natural allies either.  It benefits an oligarch to have those who are not in the club squabbling with each other,  and I'd suspect the folks at Wisdom 2.0 aren't in that club.  That club goes to Davos, or elsewhere. They would not  stand for having the usual mindfulness suspects hawking their "wisdom."  Don't get me wrong, I fully agree; a lot of that "Wisdom" stuff is shallow, and if it takes Marianne Williamson to make a dancing monkey remark, you know there's problems.  But I don't see the point of assuming that the folks at Wisdom 2.0 are responsible for the conditions under which electronics are manufactured, at least any more than anyone else.

And even in the case of a Steve Jobs (who gets way too much credit and blame for everything, even now),  as flawed as he was, not budging an millimeter from a position seeking care and justice for all, we should not wallow in the "No true Scotsman" fallacy.  Jobs was a Buddhist.  Maybe Jobs didn't move the world in a direction that produced utopia (Nicholas Kristof has an opposing view that I don't think needs expounding here, other than to point out that  such views exist, and I abhor them, frankly.)   But that did not mean he was not a Buddhist.

And if you're a Buddhist, chances are you're still suffering as well. There's always a potential that class enemies can be identified a little too close to home, if we're in the business of hunting down class enemies who are called that because they're not the poorest of the poor, or the most marginalized of the marginalized.  

I applaud Nathan's views about the commodification of mindfulness (though he should change the word "gates" in his post to "entrances.")   I would go in a slightly different direction, and not want to posit an "us versus them" scenario, but at the same time I, too, insist that progressives actually make progress, which is what I would expect of myself in my own life. 

1 comment:

n. yeti said...

I have noticed again and again that the poorer one is, the more generous, and the richer one is, the stingier. It's not an absolute thing, but it is a noticeable tendency.