Tag Archives: extremism

Take it down a notch

Finally.

While I tend to lead to the liberal side on most issues (I could make Marx blush if I wanted), I simply have very little tolerance for the Democrats in office now. And I can’t seem to find much of anything that most current Republicans are pushing that I want to buy. But I also don’t think Obama is a secret Muslim, nor do I believe that comparing anyone to Hitler (really, why always Hitler?) is getting us anywhere in this country. The 24 hour news networks fail to actually report any news and instead stick to commentary (yes, I believe they all suck) and flashiness. I’m so glad I don’t have TV service (especially now that the political ads are starting).

Of course, when I check out the internet, it’s the same thing. There are very few (if any?) balanced news sources that actually promote journalistic integrity and serve up hard journalism. It’s either liberal or conservative. What happened to just getting the fucking news? The death of the print newspaper is something that we must watch more closely. For when the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune fall, so to will the funding for the real journalists of the world. The ones that are embedded with the troops. The ones that spend a month in the Rwanda snapping photos that open the world’s eyes to the atrocities there. Then we’ll be left with hot-dog eating contests and sound bites from the red carpet. Idiocracy anyone?

We have abandoned the notion that a well-informed public is a right and a necessity to democracy. Instead we’d rather get our news from people who would tell us how to feel about it. We’d rather be entertained than take the time to learn and be informed. I love NPR, but let’s be honest. It’s fucking boring. “…and in 8 minutes we’ll have Elenor Wigsby from Muncie, Indiana with some tips on how to get the dust off your ceiling fan…” They can’t compare to Fox News or MSNBC’s sound bites, flashy images, and 17 tickers running across the screen. So they win. Olberman and Maddow and Beck and O’Reilly. Have any one of them broken a story lately? Yet they continue to get the most viewers. And we’re led to believe that most Americans feel the same way. We’re led to believe that Americans are either marching with Tea-Partiers or they’re chaining themselves to trees in the Redwoods. No middle ground.

 In the land of the dulled masses, the man with the loudest megaphone is king.

Enter Jon Stewart.

If I lived within reasonable driving distance, I’d be heading to the rally. Despite what people might say, this rally is important. It’s important to show the world that we aren’t all on the fringe of either side of the political spectrum. It’s important that we show those on the fringe that they don’t speak for us, and shouldn’t pretend to. It’s important to show the world that “real” Americans aren’t always as bat-shit insane as E! and Fox News make us out to be. And it’s important to show the world that we’re sick of the dickwads on both sides of the crazy isle taking over the conversation.

 

Cheers.

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Filed under Political

The Brit Hume fallout: Victory for The Extremists

I was going to respond to some really stupid comments and posts I saw being made by Christians/Conservatives on some of the links that Kyle provided, along with some others I found.  I had an agenda, and I was going to set them straight and put them in their places. I started to type in some comments, and then just closed down my browser. I realized what the problem was. It wasn’t them. It was the system that we’ve all been caught up in (myself included).

At first I admit I had to agree with some of my fellow bloggers and Buddhists about how this whole Brit Hume thing actually was a great opportunity for us Buddhists to speak about our faith/tradition/religion. If nothing else, there would be tons of people who would at the very least wiki Buddhism and find out just a little bit about it. So overall, this was a good thing, right? No. You see, in Buddhism, we assess situations and take action based on how skillful (less suffering) or unskillful (more suffering) we deem those actions to be (in a nut shell). Overall, I’d have to say that this entire situation has been quite unskillful.

Allow me to digress for a moment. I like people of all faiths (except Scientology. “Fuck L. Ron Hubbard and fuck all his clones”) because I try not to see people as what faith they belong to. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Pagans, I’ve known many people of many faiths in my life, and gotten along with them all splendidly. However, there is one group of people who I really can’t stand: Extremists. Extreme atheists, Christians, Buddhists, liberals, whatever. They always speak the loudest, they get in people’s faces, they cause violence and instill fear. Rather than use reason, compassion and logic, they just shout long enough and loud enough to drown out their opposition. And the internet is the best thing that has happened to extremism since Vietnam. It gives it fuel, life, recruitment, new means of manipulation, and limitless open forums with which to spew it’s filth.

Now, I do stand by what I said before. I think one of the biggest problems with what Brit Hume said is that millions of people are now going to have a skewed perception of what Buddhism is. Unfortunately, a larger problem has arisen. While in an ideal world, we would have had an open discussion between Buddhists and Christians (and maybe even Brit Hume), what we instead found was that The Extremists™ took up the cause instead. It was the crazy Christians, Atheists, Anti-Theists and everyone in between that took up this issue. It was blown out of proportion and skewed into a political, racial, 1st amendment, and religious argument rather than any kind of discovery or debate. Now all that is left are angry words, inflated egos, and the now (possibly) more negative vision of Buddhists and Buddhism.

So now we have to deal with the fallout. This really turned into a much bigger mess than it ever needed to. I still agree that something needed to be said in rebuttal, and I think Mr. Hume’s comment was reckless. But I think how the rebuttal and discourse that followed were handled was even more reckless. What we’ve done now is only further polarize the country over yet another insignificant (in the grand scheme of things) event. Much like Janet Jackson’s boob, Bill Clinton’s…. cigar,  or Mark Sanford’s indiscretion, we’ve blown things way out of proportion. I don’t want to get into the “why” of that now, I just want to acknowledge it. We simply love to sensationalize the mistakes of anyone of any type of celebrity status. A little off topic, but something someone said in my sangha the other day kind of relates here. It was regarding the way we treat our Presidents and elected officials. He said “Every four years we elect a messiah, and at the end of those four years, when we find out he’s human, we crucify him.”

This could have been a moment for pause and reflection. It could have been a moment of great understanding and compassion. But we let it turn into the monster that it became because we allow the extremists to control public “discussion” and represent their respective “sides”. We always hear and see the Christians protesting over this and that, going crazy when evolution is taught in our schools, but that isn’t representative of Christianity. Those crazies just happen to have the microphone. Not everyone that is against animal cruelty throws fake blood on people who buy fur coats. They just happen to make the 5 o’clock news. And so we allow those extremists (who are in the minority) to control not only the debate, but also our view of the entirety of whatever side/religion/organization/movement they belong to.

And not only do we allow this to happen, we actually feed it sometimes! We respond to the crazies on those message boards! This is the fuel that they need to burn their fires of hate.  We try to argue with them, to make them see our point. But they won’t. They’re completely stuck in a state of “I’m fucking right and you’re fucking wrong” and no amount of replies in an internet forum or shouting through a megaphone at a Tea Party is going to change their minds. If their minds are to change, it will have to be of their own doing. So now we’re left with all of those extremists shouting, yelling, posting which only further deepens the divisions that we’ve created for ourselves.

Before I get to a solution, I just want to reiterate that I do believe something needed to be said about this. If I had a moment of face time with Brit Hume, I’d simply say “Brit, what you said offended quite a few people. Not because of you being a Christian or saying Jesus on the air, but because you put one religion down while trumpeting your own. We hear enough of this, and this us vs. them stuff has to stop. Wouldn’t it have been a wiser choice to say something like: ‘I don’t know much about Buddhism, but I think right now you need to use what tools your faith has to offer to help yourself and your family heal. I know that when I turned to Christianity, I found great comfort and forgiveness and it helped me through a very difficult time’. See the difference there?”

I think one of the best solutions for us Buddhists to cultivate is something the Dalai Llama has offered:

“The purpose of Buddhism is to serve and benefit all sentient beings, including human beings. And therefore it is more important to think of what contribution we Buddhists can make to human society according to our own ideas rather than trying to convert other people to Buddhism. The Buddha gave us an example of contentment and tolerance, through serving others unselfishly.”

It is in the example that we set for others when we live according to the dharma in which we can overcome the extremists. This is the best and most skillful course of action.

That’s all on this. Cheers.

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Filed under Buddhism, Political