Monday, July 18, 2016

Conservative Outrage

Hola mi Gente,
This GOP convention is a national embarrassment.


Plenty of people did not care for him much, but then there is a huge difference between disliking somebody -- maybe even disliking them a lot -- and actually shooting them, strangling them, dragging them through the fields and setting their house on fire.
-- Douglas Noel Adams (1952 - )

A two-party system that consists of a far right white supremacist faction on the one hand, and a corporatist neoliberal faction on the other, is no way to run a representative “democracy.” What I see today -- from both parties -- is a thinly disguised contempt, and even hatred, for the poor, the marginalized, and the Other.

The sad truth is that hatred has never conquered hatred. Hatred merely leads to revenge, and revenge leads to more hate. Hence, a cycle of suffering is set in motion that can go on and on. We only need to look at the world around us to see the sad evidence of this truth.

Hatred is an extreme form of anger. The teachings of the path I follow take anger very seriously because anger causes so much suffering. I see hate as being rooted in fear. Fear is a powerful core emotion.

Even when anger is not acted out and seems controlled, a person who is inwardly angry can instantly change the atmosphere of a room she enters. There is an invisible, but palpable change and anyone nearby becomes more guarded and less spontaneous. This happens without conscious effort. It seems to be a response at a very deep (cellular?) level to the quality of energy that anger gives out.
You see this played in the world’s stage all the time… 

When anger is acted out and results in violence, the damage is obvious. Some years ago, I read the words by the Cambodian monk, Maha Ghosananda, who observed, “When this defilement of anger really gets strong, it has no sense of good or evil, right or wrong, of husbands, wives, and children. It can even drink human blood.” This was a tragic comment upon a bloody civil war that had torn Cambodia apart and killed almost everyone he knew.

What is often not understood about anger is the harm it does to the society that harbors hatred. The first casualty of hate and anger hurt is always the one who is angry. An angry mind is a suffering mind. An angry mind is agitated and tight, constricted and narrow in its thinking. Judgment and perspective vanish. All good sense disappears. There’s a sense of restlessness and anxiety. Nothing is satisfying, everything is tense.

What happens during anger is that the sense of self becomes very large, and so the sense of the other. A major reason anger is so very painful is that it instantly creates a sharp distinction between self and other. An imaginary line is drawn that cannot be passed. For example, if I make the statement, “Any friend of those assholes, is not a friend of mine,” I am drawing a line of intolerance.

There is also an intoxicating effect aspect of anger. There is a strong feeling of self-righteousness. Thoughts rooted in justification take over: “They are takes! They want to take our country away!” This is combined with feelings of defiance and rectitude: “We are right!” However, underlying the intoxication of anger is the pain of a mind so narrowly constricted that it closes itself off from human connection.

The results of anger can be devastating. Anger is like a poison. It generates an unhealthy cycle of cause and effect. Every thought, word, or act has an angry after-effect. Like throwing a pebble into a pond, an act or thought sets into motion a series of ripple effects that sent out in every direction. We are stuck with what we have done, and with the effects that we have caused.

I believe that the majority of harmful patterns of behavior are rooted in unconscious anger/ hatred. People will gossip about others, spread false accusations about others as a way of maintaining this angry state of mind. Existing in an environment of fear, hate, and anger, nations lash out at others and create hierarchies in order to maintain their power and bloated egos. I guess the answer is not to respond in anger, but to generate love instead. This is the challenge of our times, however, easier said than done.

And so it is with my own decisions about whom I choose to remain in contact. I think what makes decisions skillful or not has a lot to do with intent. If one has an angry or hateful intent, then, like the ripples in the pond, you suffer the consequences. However, if the intent is based on compassion and an attempt to find serenity in life and to cultivate compassion and empathy, then we can live knowing that we’re walking our path to the best of our ability.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

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