Sunday, August 12, 2007

Buddhism has its revenge on the U.S.

Of course Buddhism doesn't teach revenge. In fact it teaches the complete opposite, but....


Something that a lot of people including myself have been trying to figure out is why exactly a big component of the United States totally lost it after 9/11, and still isn't in touch with reality. I'm not talking about people honestly supporting conservative reactions to 9/11 but about people who've had a fundamental disconnect from the facts so that they support conservative responses because they believe that things that have proven to be absolutely false are right. It feels like the U.S. population split between people who took 9/11 as a very bad occurrence and got on with their lives and people who couldn't take the reality of a terrorist incident of that scale happening to the United States and who had some sort of deep crisis of identity and belief about the United States itself and its place in the world. That might have been good if the crisis had lead to a more critical sense of what the U.S. has been doing in its foreign policy, which rarely gets reported in the U.S. press itself, but the reevaluation was based on a kind of gut reaction that lead people to become ultra-patriotic and ultra-critical of people who questioned the belief that America is the greatest country in the world.

These people, who outnumber the people who were able to integrate the events of 9/11 into their lives without a real crisis, seem to have fallen into their own little worlds, where things that have been proven time and time again, like the absence of any connection between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein or the lack of WMDs in Iraq, are real. 9/11 has brought to the surface a real fracture in American society that was invisible: the lack of even a basic education in a lot of people in U.S. and world history and politics in an awful lot of people that causes irrational responses when the chips are down and that knowledge is needed.

Which is how Buddhism fits into this. In Buddhism people are said to create their own illusions, which become part of their psychology and structure their every day lives. They live by these illusions and fight against them at times but it's like fighting your own shadow. They're trapped. They're trapped in their own world by their own misperception of reality, that is in turn caused by some error in their lives.

I feel like this is a good description of the situation of a large portion of people in the U.S.: they've become trapped in the illusions that they formulated after 9/11 and instead of questioning the illusion itself, the basis for their new political beliefs, they respond according to the rules of the illusion.

That's how the principles of Buddhism but not Buddhism itself has had its revenge on the United States. The lack of awareness and the concentration of people on things in their lives that aren't as important as what's going on in the world has now lead to a harvest of self delusion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And these are the people who are going to have an equal voice in your egalitarian socialistic revolution ?

I must commend you for a well constructed site. It is well written as much as I disagree with this kind of thinking.

I used to take the gore vidals, the noam chomskys, the susan sontags, the chalmers johnstons, the NPR and PBS parade of depressives, troubled intellectuals, neo socialists, rabid anti westerners, and identitity politicians, somewhat seriously.

But now I find them deadly dull more than anything else. I don't think many of their ideas or their politics would give the world what it needs or make life better for westerners, or for anyone else.

Either I have become stupid or smart ... but in any case I am no longer lured by their siren's song or entangled in their barbed wire.

Free at last, free at last, God almighty free at last ???