Separation of Buddhism and Politics, Church and Hate…

img_1987No, I’m not a Trump apologist, though I know a few of his supporters, and they’re not bad people, not necessarily, though there are always a few baddies on both sides. I have yet to ‘un-friend’ anyone simply because they’re a Trump supporter, though that possibility rises in direct proportion to the extent that they choose to talk about it. When you’re from Mississippi you learn to choose your words carefully, if not STFU entirely, which is my greatest lesson so far from Buddhism: we all talk too much and say too little…

I am one of the few Dems I know who doesn’t dump friends because they’re DJT supporters, as long as they know how to STFU. Repubs should learn that trick, too. And many of them aren’t arch-cons, anyway, but conspiracy people, just like many of Bernie’s burners. And then there are Dems who wanted Trump to win just so that he could fall farther harder, and I can almost see that, just like the reasons to support ISIL, someone to shut down economies for the purpose of reducing Global Warming…

Some people will flock to a Big Man like flies to a pile of sh*t—it’s true, simply because it’s easy. But when we Buddhists take to the streets to protest the new president of the USA, we aren’t walking on water. We’re walking on thin ice. First, and most importantly, we’re telling Trump supporters that they’re not qualified to be Buddhists, i.e. we don’t want you. I didn’t realize that Buddhism now has a political standards test, subject to shifting tides…

Well, I don’t know about you, but I do want them. Anyone who’s open to the Dharma is welcome in my temple. Like I say: I know many of these people personally, and not only are they not bad people, but many of them are quite intelligent, and with high IQ’s, yes. People have their own reasons for supporting the candidate of their choice, and that is their own business, not mine. I suggest you try to understand, and then suspend disbelief…

Because not all Trump supporters are racists, or worse, though some may indeed be. That’s a tough sin to overcome. And may I ask, who is guiltless? I dropped out of the past election’s discussion, not because of the Trump people, but because of Bernie’s people, many of whom felt as though not only were they inherently superior, but that bullying behavior was appropriate to the occasion. I disagree. There is no excuse for bullying behavior, ever…

Then there is the time-honored American tradition separating church and state. The sooner that religions choose to intervene in affairs of state, the sooner that the state will choose to return the favor. No, I’m not advocating ignorance before egregious violations of human rights and social conditions, but that’s not what is going on here. There is too much vitriol from all sides for either to take the moral high ground with any reasonable certainty, and that should be the sacred turf of any religion, moral high ground…

And yes, I’m aware of the concept of ‘engaged Buddhism’, but that specifically prohibits entering into partisan politics. Rather, it demands attention to social needs and non-partisan political needs, such as statelessness, refuge, homelessness and foodlessness. Instead what we have are well-meaning but misguided Buddhists playing out their disgust with the 45th President on the streets, “singing songs and carrying signs, mostly say, ‘Hooray for our side’.” I get it, but I don’t like it…

Of course the main reason for the separation of religion, including Buddhism, from politics, is that it goes both ways, like a double-edged sword. We all know well that Mr. T was aided and abetted by fundamentalist Christians, usually referred to as ‘evangelicals’ now, to avoid any comparisons with their Abrahamic counterparts in the Middle East…

But if you think that could never happen with Buddhism, then look no further than Burma, where Aung San’s new government has done hardly anything to curb abuses against minority Rohingyas, Kachins, Karens, Shans, and—who else you got? And the Buddhist sangha has been at the forefront of that nationalistic uproar. Racism is a tough sin to rise above, and its brother nationalism is no better, whether in the USA or elsewhere…

And this is from the Theravada Buddhism usually considered the strictest, most traditional, most devout and most devoted, the Burmese. Their cousin Tibetan Buddhists, with similar bloodlines but different school, engage in self-immolation rather than submit to Chinese rule. But what does this accomplish? I’m more impressed by Tibetans who give the Chinese a taste of their own trans-migration medicine and who themselves go to other Chinese provinces, while loudly proclaiming their roots, life roots not death…

So this issue is not really about Mr. T at all. This is about the role of religion, specifically Buddhism, in rising above the fray of partisan politics. To quote a literary hack—myself—“politics sucks.” Let’s not get dragged down to that level. Once we do that, we are in no position to help our own enlightenment or that of others. By getting involved in partisan politics, we are only admitting our failure as a religion…

Of course any individual should do whatever they feel strongly about, but they don’t have to do it in the name of Buddhism. Up until very recently Buddhism was the ONLY religion to never go to war to promote itself, and I think it should stay that way. If you can’t make your peace without taking to the streets, then you’re probably doing something wrong, maybe time to change your meditation posture…

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