(Note: For those who prefer my posts that are more Zen than bite, you might want to give this one a pass. Then again, stay. We cannot keep walking away from one another, especially here in the United States. So, sit a spell. Have a beer or a coffee, and at the end of my say, I’ll hold your beer, your coffee—whatever—while you have your say.)
In her book, Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World, Pema Chodron writes that there is a group of resilient people who never give up on the world.
Hold my beer, Pema.
I doubt even Margaret Mead would think that a small group of thoughtful people can change what is coming to fruition in the United States. It’s well-thought out and the result of decades of planning, pretty much religion wrapped in a flag. I suspect the truly thoughtful (and no doubt resilient) have left the planet, having hijacked Elon Musk’s SpaceX for other worlds.
Not being among the most thoughtful, Musk is too busy enjoying “former guy” status as the soon-to-be—or not—war lord of Twitter. Of course, there are so many brilliant billion-dollar distractions for Musk that nothing is a loss or maybe it’s all a loss.
We have met the enemy and it is us. In an increasingly fascist world, democracy seems too hard. And anyway, how bad can a fascist regime be? That remains a legitimate question for far too many people in America, old and young. In our classrooms, the already whitewashed US history is being replaced by snow white fairytales. Will this bring back knights in tights and chastity belts?
Hold my beer.
The fencing is up around the building of the United States Supreme Court, in anticipation of the court’s archaic ruling regarding reproductive rights for women: they have none is the majority opinion of the court. In response, some state legislatures, eerily echoing one another, are enacting laws making any abortion for any reason a criminal act. In Louisiana, they wanted abortion to be considered a homicide but the bill died in withdrawal.
The leaked court opinion sets aside precedent, opening the way for aborting all civil rights—sexual orientation, interracial marriage, voting. What woman wouldn’t wear a chastity belt (modified for sex toys because girls gonna have fun). Minnie Mouse is leading the Disney charge.
And speaking of Florida, any sexual orientation or skin color other than white cisgender cannot be mentioned in elementary education, which also abstains of any meaningful sex education. Governor DeSantis calls special legislative sessions as often as the former guy twerked at his rallies. Yeah, those knights in tights.
Hold my beer.
As in a Dar Williams’ song, I am viewed “like my country in the eyes of the world.” Forever the ugly American, it seems. From sea to shining sea we are either privileged or poor, partisan or bi-partisan, and owners of the biggest arsenal of destruction on the planet to ensure the American way, which is a democracy dying, because we cannot be bothered to vote in Every. Single. Election.
Here’s to the Ukrainian people who know democracy is worth being fire-bombed Every. Single. Day.
It is coming to pass that authoritarians/oligarchs are owning all of America much like they once “owned the libs,” who have spent far too much time jousting at the outrage windmill. Witness the recent symbolic vote in the United States Senate to codify abortion. What do you get when you own the outrage? I’m old enough to remember when Don Quixote was required reading.
There is no majority of Americans, in any poll, that agrees with the soon to be rendered Supreme Court opinion regarding Roe v. Wade but will the American people storm the 2022 primary season demanding to know every single representative’s stand on women having the right to make their own decisions about their bodies? It’s a yes or no question, needing no muddled meandering. It’s not a Left or Right answer, just a yea or nay on a human right.
If people who can get pregnant do not have control over their bodies, there is no freedom in America for anyone. Every civil right is at risk with the striking down of the Roe v. Wade precedent. Every. Single. Civil Right. And every American owns this failure. Maybe we never deserved our republic for we are certainly doing everything we can to lose it.
If I am wrong, I will lead the cheer, loud and long, for I have loved my country, and I am old enough to remember those halcyon days, idyllic and ill-informed as they were.
Hold my beer.
So, now that the bite is out of the way, here’s the Zen I have left—to live in the eternal present. Of course, that is what we all do, aware of it or not, but it’s not what we believe so it’s not what we do. Like living in a democracy and keeping a country from going off the rails, maintaining a Zen practice is hard. What to do is basic but it won’t work without commitment and dies in complacency.
We must meet each moment as it arrives. It’s not ours to control but to stay open to what it reveals. The moment is all we ever have, and we are not guaranteed the next, and in that is incredible power, the energy to effect change rather than owning the outrage windmill in protest. Want peace of mind, enlightenment?
Hold my beer.
Here is a Zen hack: peace is not a location or a destination. Peace exists in every moment if we stay open to what is occurring, doing the best we can with the options we have, immersing ourselves in what must be done. Moments are met completely or not at all.
My emotions are all the tools I need so a Zen practice is cost free. Mostly it’s remembering to immerse myself in what I’m doing, that and only that, rather than going along with my mind’s suggestions, which are myriad. Life is a lot of facts with sharp edges but even on my worst days of staying present, it’s better than jousting at a windmill grinding.
Now, I’ll hold your beer.