Between the Buddha and the Bubbas

Recently a friend of mine wrote that he had detected a kinder tone to my posts, citing columns from past months that praised the boundless compassion of the precious few who can see good in all people. I take his kind words as a sign of progress for there is nothing I subscribe to more than a world where love and mutual respect is our commonality.

I have felt those utopian moments: in a circle of men and women sharing our vulnerability, arms interlocked as “Amazing Grace” surrounded us in its chorus of blessings; in a hospital room watching my daughter open pure and innocent eyes to the world; in a deep meditation where I awaken to my true nature, holding the universe in prayer pose.

And each morning I am hard pressed to believe these moments of grace took place as anything other than deluded daydreams!

How can I think otherwise as I read the headlines that report on a world aflame in demagoguery, godless religious fundamentalism and man’s inhumanity to man?

It’s a spiritual predicament.  On one side there is the Buddha.  Have compassion, he urges, we must be brave enough to let go of our anger and invite our so-called enemy in, and share our suffering with each other and open the doors of understanding as we come together acknowledging our shared humanity,

On the other side there is Bubba, admittedly a political pejorative but accurate shorthand for the bigoted, ultra-conservative, racist louts who are existential threats to the core of democracy.  Their promotion is steeped in far-right, conspiracy-mongering, openly supporting Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and misogyny and condoning violence as a core tactic. 

Observing my effort to bridge the irreconcilable, my spiritual teachers gently remind me to open my heart and reply to rancor with the psalms of compassion.  Have empathy, they continue, acknowledge the underlying similarity of the human condition and by doing so, create a foundation of mutual respect that obliges your disagreements.

But the wisp of incense adding solemnity and scented quietude quickly gets blown away.

It’s the political reality that demands to be heard.  On one side is the Biden agenda, 100% of the focus on delivering relief to the American people, getting the pandemic under control and putting people back to work.  On the other side there is the McConnell agenda, 100% of the focus on thwarting everything the Biden administration proposes.

The disparity is considerably more than policy disagreement.  The Trump party – make no mistake about it, the Republican Party is no more – screams with vitriolic voice, “rigged election” and encourages states to revoke voting rights.  Threatened by the inevitable realities of shifting demographics, Trumpians have not adapted nor embraced the contributions of diversity.  Their blatant expressions of overt racism appear to have little to do with traditional politics. 

 Senate and House leaders McConnell and McCarthy lack any cognitive awareness of suffering, no emotional resonance with those who are hurting and zero commitment to alleviate the distress.  And these are the three essential elements crucial for achieving social justice!

I ask myself, what would the Buddha do?  I visualize him in a Black Lives Matter tee-shirt marching in accord with the parade of disenfranchised communities struggling to achieve a share of the American ideal.

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