Religion and Politics, part 2: US at Odds with the World, and Getting Even…

img_0953

Continued from previous…

For some reason in the Western world, ‘getting even’ or ‘settling scores’ almost always implies violence, and ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’, etc, lex talionis, the ‘law of retaliation’, once a statute of limitations, i.e. only an eye for an eye and only a tooth for a tooth–no punitive damages, has become a law of revenge mostly used in Western accusations against Islam…

Yet, how would we like it if an Islamic country pummeled Christians into oblivion on a regular basis because they won’t kowtow to an invading foreign power? You already know the answer to that. We call them ‘terrorists’. Funny thing is: one thousand years ago today, the roles were reversed—we were the terrorists!

And to this day the name ‘Franks’ strikes fear (and dollars) in the hearts of men (and women) all over the world, especially where the word has entered the local lexicon: faranji in Ethiopia, ferenghi in the Mideast, and farang in SE Asia. The only thing that has changed is that the lingua franca is now English, not Marco Polo’s pidgin-Latin ‘Franco-Italian’ (now I’m hungry)…

Yes, the Vikings and the Danes and then their hybridized Norman and Teuton ‘Frank’ cousins were as violent as anything that’s been known in recorded history, until they were Christianized, at least. That helped a little, but not much, mostly just defining an enemy slightly further afield, i.e. the Mideast…

So we rag on Muslims for their violence, while not admitting for a second that we Western Christians are just the same, the main difference that we’re on top, and they’re on bottom. Many people don’t like that position, nor the way it feels. Some do. Muslims don’t. Romans thought homosexuality was okay, BTW, as long as you were the one stickin’ it to ’em, not on the receiving end, just sayin’…

There’s nothing a serious Muslim loves more than a good game of chess, just like there’s nothing a good Buddhist loves more than meditating. But Christians love competition, whether beauty contests, violent sports or a good game of monopoly—Trump that! And we definitely like self-righteous posturing and ‘stickin’ it to ’em—sometimes with real sticks! Political brinksmanship and personal one-up-manship are closely related phenomena…

But we Americans are democratic. We like politicians who will ‘shake things up,’ as if things aren’t all shook up enough already, stretched to the point of breaking. Why don’t we like politicians who will smooth things out? Why do people like to ‘push each others’ buttons’ and ‘get in people’s faces’—quote unquote? Why is agitation valued over tranquility? Why is competition valued over contrition?

Contrition is a Buddhist value, and that is one reason why ‘throwing the book’ at legal offenses is so difficult in Asia, much to the amusement of many Westerners. It is felt that there is simply a better way, and people are hesitant to call police—or lawyers. This results in some gross abuses of the law, of course, mostly by the wealthy and powerful, like certain members of a certain  Thai ‘energy drink’ family, whose name I won’t mention for fear of retribution. Did you know that the word for ‘caffeine’ in some languages is ‘energy’? Hmm…

So if the Western ‘type-A’ alpha male is the paradigm for modern manhood, then maybe that needs to change, one reason I support LGBTQAU2’s in their quest for equal identity rights, if not sexual obsessions, simply the need to move away from competition-based war-torn role models, and more toward a softer, more conciliatory approach to human relations, something more traditionally feminine. My manhood is not threatened by that; is yours?

But the problem with that is that everybody really needs to get on board the same system for it to work, and this is where such efforts, like socialism, fail. People can’t seem to agree on much of anything! Not only that, but many are unwilling to compromise, and this is the great failure of democracy. So the next best thing would seem to be rule by a highly-educated and hopefully-enlightened technological elite who can rule by threat of force, and not force itself, where such efforts would be theoretically futile…

How’s that working out? Not so well, apparently. Enlightenment seems to be in short supply in the power centers of Rome. And then there’s capitalism. Now I won’t say that it’s inherently aggressive, consumptive and cancerous, because you already know that. But I will say that it is the cause of global warming, which is the great issue of our time, and our great challenge as human beings, to see beyond ourselves and into the future. But no American politician will dare touch that subject, for fear of losing jobs–and votes…

Whether it’s Hillary or Marco or Bernie or Donald: “We’ve got to get this economy going! We’ve got to create more jobs!” No we don’t actually. We’ve got to create fewer people. We’ve got to create fewer iPhones. But most of all: we’ve got to create fewer desires. Buddhism can help with that. Modern fear-and-conspiracy-based American politicians like to say, “It’s a rigged system!” Of course it’s rigged–it’s capitalist!

The minute a banker said, “Pay later,” the fix was in. But don’t blame the banker; blame the carpe diem sucker. Follow that bliss! Stay tuned for more news, right after this commercial break…

Advertisements