Category Archives: Violence

Been gone, been down, still am

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It has been a while since I last posted on this blog. I have not been active on my Facebook page either. Why? I think because I am having trouble making sense of the world right now. I simply do not understand the hate and violence that are so pervasive at this moment.

I used to think I understood people who express their anger demonstrably, because I used to manage my own anger so poorly. I thought I had some insight, based on my own struggles as a young man, when it was so easy for rage to rise up inside of me and spill forth. Maybe I did, but I don’t feel like I do anymore.

I don’t understand most of the anger I witness on social media and on TV. On my worst days, when anger overwhelmed me completely, when I literally shook from the negative energy boiling up from deep inside, I never displayed such naked aggression, never verbally savaged another being, never even considered doing either. So I try to imagine what torment these angry people must be suffering, I try to put myself in their place, to contemplate their plight, to fathom what could possibly propel them to these states of frothing, thrashing, tearing, unbridled fury. But I fail repeatedly, fully unenlightened.

I am left distraught by my confusion, by my utter inability to grasp what is happening in the world, in this country, in my own backyard. I cannot comprehend the acts of violence that take place every day, many times a day. I am even more confounded by the eagerness of so many people to act on their violent impulses, by their hair-trigger readiness to lash out with deadly force.

I fear that I am despairing, losing sight of humanity’s inherent goodness, losing touch with creation’s core of love. I do not love my fellow beings any less, but I admit I sometimes wonder what good it does. Am I helping at all? Am I contributing, in any way, to stemming the angry tide? Could it possibly be any worse if I weren’t here at all?

The sadness I feel is nearly unbearable. My heart aches for the beloved of the brutally murdered. Compassion continues to swell up even for the perpetrators, even though I don’t understand them, even though I believed that well had run dry, even though their acts are so repugnant and inexplicable that I begin to fear that my own loved ones are no longer safe.

Today and yesterday and the day before, each brought more unwelcome news, more tragedy, more devastation. Unremitting, incessant, unflagging, unstoppable. At least it seems that way. Though I hope, I do, I really hope. And I do what for a Buddhist passes for prayer, and I cling to the possibility that the storm will be a little less fierce at dawn, and I focus on the inevitability of the sun rising, and I remind myself that the powerful, unquenchable power that fuels creation is still there. Love remains and, if we can manage to get out of its way, will prevail.

I believe that, I honestly do, even now, even when it is so terribly difficult to make sense from any of it.

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Thinking about Syria

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What am I to think about the developments in the U.S. regarding Syria? We appear to be slouching closer to some type of military action and I am personally distraught at the thought.

I abhor violence, plain and simple. I cannot condone any action that the U.S. may take in regard to Syria that involves violence. But…

How can I turn a blind eye to the plight of the Syrian people? More than 100,000 Syrians have died in this civil war. If a similar proportion of Americans died, we’d be talking about almost 1.5 million deaths. Think of the effect that losing 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, has had on this country: What would happen to America if 500 times that many people died? That is what is happening in Syria.

Over 2 million Syrians have fled their homeland and are living as refugees in neighboring countries. That’s 9 percent of Syria’s total population, the proportional equivalent of nearly 30 million Americans. How can I stay deaf to the cries of these victims? My heart is troubled to the point of breaking for the Syrian people and compassion is pouring forth from my heart in torrents. It is a tragedy of epic scale and – even if peace broke out today – a calamity that the country will have a very difficult time recovering from.

I believe that the U.S. and other countries should do something, but is violence the best answer? The Dalai Lama has said that there is such a thing as a justifiable war, but that one cannot know if it was justified until afterwards. “War is violence and violence is unpredictable. Therefore, it is better to avoid it if possible, and never to presume that we know beforehand whether the outcome of a particular war will be beneficial or not.” He has also said, “Now the concept of violence, the concept of war, is outdated…Violence never seems now to produce positive results.”

That is where my heart lies, with the path of peace. But peace does not appear to be making sufficient headway to end the crisis in Syria. Is it possible to be more “forcibly peacful” without crossing a boundary into a realm of non-peace? I fear it is not. A violent reaction from the U.S. appears more and more likely, and I am heartbroken at the prospect.

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