Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Flakes of Wrath

Contrary to what your more irritatingly blissed out yoga practitioners in their designer label “Live Simply and Let Others Simply Live” t-shirts say in between expensive spa treatments, there’s a lot to be pissed off about.

Sure, forgiveness is a good thing, one might even say divine. And, apparently, it’s good for one’s mental health:
Forgiveness is an act of letting go. It is not something we do for others; it is a gift to ourselves....We do not release them from accountability by forgiving; we free ourselves from the burden of bitterness. Gordon Livingston, M.D.
Things get more complicated when you away from the personal, though. A long time ago, when I was an angry self-righteous young political activist, my Dad gave me a book by Eric Hoffer called The True Believer. Hoffer said that people who want to change the world are simply trying to avoid changing themselves. I thought: if King, Gandhi, and Mandela did what they did to avoid working on themselves, we should all be grateful for that.

Disillusioned words like bullets bark as human gods aim for their mark to make everything from toy guns that spark to flesh colored Christs that glow in the dark; it’s easy to see without looking too far that not much is really sacred.
Bob Dylan

Here’s what’s pissing me off at the moment (as opposed to ten minutes from now, or ten minutes ago): Republicans. Cindy McCain said “In Arizona the only way to get around the state is by small private plane.” Phil Gramm says people should stop whining about the economy, since, presumably, nobody he knows is so strapped that the private plane is on the block. Karl Rove says Obama is just like that snooty guy “everybody” knows from the country club that, presumably, “everybody” is a member of. And yet, find a picture of a Democratic candidate wind surfing or admitting that he reads a book now and then, and an Andover graduate son of a president who used family connections to keep out of Vietnam only needs to clear some brush in front of a Fox News camera and mispronounce big words to be a man of the people. Of course, these are also the people who’ve taken on the mantle of “morality” to the point that when the word “values” appears in the mainstream media, we can assume it means “right wing fundamentalist Republican values” even as they’ve fucked the world with their ideology of avarice, bigotry, paranoia, and unbelievable greed (though, admittedly, what pisses me off almost as much is that democrats/progressives/liberals let them do it...since, y’know, we’re too postmodern to use that kind of terminology).

Keep you doped with religion, and sex and TV, and you think you’re so clever and classless and free, but you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see.
John Lennon, “Working Class Hero”

On the other hand, King et al didn’t, as far as I know, spend a lot of time sitting around stewing in their own rage. I have friends who can barely sit still over a beer thanks to their visceral hatred of George W. Bush. I’ve also met incredibly privileged people who spend hours every day gritting their teeth with rage as Rush Limbaugh rants about the possibility that a few of their tax dollars might go to healthcare for people with nothing. I spend a ludicrous amount of time and energy coming up with angry political rants (see above), ending up emotionally drained and, thus, actually less likely to take any significant action about anything.

There’s a scene in the movie Gandhi, where Gandhi’s on a hunger strike to get the Hindus and Muslims to stop killing each other. A distraught man enters the room, throwing a hunk of food onto his blanket. “I’m already going to Hell,” he says (all dialogue is from memory), “I won’t have your death on my conscience, too.” When Gandhi asks why he’s going to Hell, the man recounts that, after the Muslims killed his family, he bashed a Muslim child’s head in. Gandhi says “there is a way that you can escape from hell. Find a child who’s lost his parents in the fighting. Take him with you and raise him as your own.” Then, after a pause: “One more thing: he must be a Muslim, and you must raise him as one.” The point of this is not that the guy needs to make some bizarre and, most likely, impossible penance to keep from going to Hell after death; it’s that he’s already in Hell because of his hatred for the Muslims for what they did and for himself for what he did because of that hatred. The only way out is to break the cycle.


Jet Fisher said...

there is no way i am taking in one of the bush children and raising them as my own except republican, for one thing that would mean i couldn't put her on birth control.

Anonymous said...

Dr Jay, I'm slowly making my way through your archives and having a jolly good time while I'm at it! I promise I'm not posting comments on each and every post, just the ones that strike a nerve. ;)

An upcoming topic for my blog is covering the part of my recovery that took (most of) the anger from being assaulted and turned it into forgiveness and love. Yes, love for the individual that decided to use my face as target practice. Whoah. It was something I hardly expected.
But I do know this - you can't force forgiveness. And you won't be done with being pissed at everything until you're done. Partly, being 'done' requires some effort on your own part. So you most likely won't be done unless you at least try to.

I know you're not a fan of Guru's, but here's another reason I really love mine. He sat us all down for a teaching one time, only to start talking to us about getting to the grit at the bottom of the glass. (The following is paraphrased)
"Mix up some water and some mud in a glass. Eventually as it settles, the water at the top of the glass looks pretty clear. There's a middle murky section which most of us take for the bottom. And we never go to the bottom of the glass. What I want you all to go is go get the mud. Eventually, we want to clear all the mud from the glass. Actually, we don't even want the glass."

Okay, so, anyone floating around pretending to be all serene is basically putting on an act. Let's see how they act/react under pressure. Mostly, they're gonna get angry or scared or pissed off or... yeah. Its just an act.

My Guru says enlightenment doesn't look like serene expressions and floating around an inch above the ground blessing everyone with your benevolent gaze. And anyone with that view is living in fantasy land - but that might just be the best place for them unless they decide to wake up. And part of the enlightened view is that where everyone is at is perfectly fine. So you see, there's no need to be pissed after all. :)