I found that thought making its way through my mind the other day (disturbing not only from the fact that it was a thought, but also from the fact that it sounds like a line from “Airplane”), and It sort of frightened me. With the political climate in the US these days (all the fundamentalist Christians blowing off steam and the mainstream media happy to broadcast it) it doesn’t take much of a leap from those folks for them to start physically attacking other religions…not that they haven’t already started…Some of our Muslim and Sikh friends have already died due to this sort of stupidity. And the troubling observation I made the other day that the extreme political right wing seems more than a little like the NSDAP from the late 1920’s I wonder….does this bode well for the rest of us Americans who AREN’T Christians? I think not. And we as followers of The Buddha have a poor track record of surviving such dire straights. Of course, The Dharma will survive until we are no more as a species, but is it about to become dangerous to be non-Christian?
You see, I’m a third generation Liberal Democrat. and there are those who would desperately like to see folks like me and *most* of my family go away (violently, if necessary). With people like Mr. Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin and Ted Gohmert as well as many others we don’t yet know about who are waiting in the wings to have their “15 minutes”. I’m not only a bit frightened about my family’s safety, but for many, many others who do not neatly fit into the Tea Party’s view of “true” Americans, whether it is because of their skin color, religion, political leanings, sexual orientation or whatever.
Now I do know that fear accomplishes nothing. It is an emotional energy-sucker of the first magnitude. And it is the favorite weapon of those who would change our world to suit themselves. A few years ago, my wife gave me a gift of a tear-off calendar of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s quotes… And to this day, I still have one those quotes pasted up on my desk. It reads, “If you have some fear of pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; If you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry” Good advice, that. and maybe I shouldn’t be worried. But maybe this is a call to do something about it.
And I think that is the point. We all live in a time where tolerance is under attack from those who would promote non-tolerance to make themselves even more rich and powerful. But violence begets violence. If we are to save America (and the rest of the world) from the evil that will surely come from Extremism of any kind, we must do it in a manner that promotes peaceful dialogue and at least for me, expresses the teachings of The Buddha, and leaves no trace of what will grow into an enemy later. And we MUST do it, for to do nothing only gives those trying to eliminate us the momentum to do so.
In the Mahayana tradition there is much use of the term “warrior” in the practice. And if memory serves, it means to be strong in the sense of doing the practice well. And this is something that all of us could learn, no matter what our choice of spirituality is. IMHO, religions all pretty much teach the same things. Things like how you should treat those around you, how to be a better person, and that you should help those who need it. And in that sense, we all are the same.
And the one thing that just about all religions have in common is the promotion of compassion. Compassion for our fellow humans, the animals, the rock we live on…. There is no good reason not to live a compassionate life. And everyone deserves our compassion! There are no living beings who don’t. My hope is that the rest of us will stand up and take back our world through compassion and love.
Compassion should be our weapon, our shield, and our reason for battle.