Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"I don't know."

Well, it was a powerful question actually. How does one go about changing the mindset of the political base of America, particularly the right wingers, to embrace non-violence and disarmament?

"I don't know," was the reply to what we can do for the current politicos that some would say are ruining this country. But the Dalai Lama went on to say that the answer lies in the next couple of generations, with the teens of the day. And considering that there were thousands there listening to him as I was, I had to agree.

And still it is a vexing question. One that could easily be put to the three candidates for president running as I write. McCain has all but promised war. Actually, he uses the apology form of a promise. Hillary Clinton was for the war in Iraq, and just about the time she made the choice to run she stated that she would leave troops in Iraq, and recently she claims she favors a pullout, but seems to do so in vague terms. Barack Obama claims to favor a phased withdrawal. One designed to let the Iraqis know that they need to take their own country seriously. Which does seem the conundrum the war mongers were after to begin with. Just how can we extricate ourselves from a mess we made, with an inept government we installed, in charge? What can we expect of our own leaders that will respond to this need and still embrace non-violence as a way of life?

Essentially politics is a clashing of egos. That even includes who will take the moral high ground, and then using that as leverage to garner political points. McCain doesn't have a foothold here, because he's all for war. He makes a joke about bombing Iran, doesn't know the difference between a Sunni and Shiia, has stated that 100 years in Iraq isn't out of the question, and wants to build up the armed forces. His appeal is to those who think might is right, which is a shrinking group these days. And the clash of the two Democrats has been all but obvious. And over what, and/or why?

What is needed are candidates that have checked their ego at the doors. That won't happen today, and I am beginning to sense that for the immediate future the political choices are going to be the lesser of two evils. Which ego will wreak the least havoc on the lives of the citizens of the United States. Considering approval ratings and polls about the war and economy, I don't see any conservative winning that election. Not without election tampering anyway. And between the two Democrats, I'd say the one leveling the charge of elitist, the same one who made over $100 million in the last decade, the one who caters to rural lobbyists and calls them farmers, the one who depends heavily on corporate donations while her rhetoric slams them, isn't our best choice. That makes the last man standing a crap shoot at best, but may turn out to be a winner. It all depends on how much ego gets in the way.

What do I mean by ego? Well, a lot more than just a sense of vanity. Ego is identification with the mental constructs that we call ourselves, our life, our story, our identity, but are still nothing more than mental constructs. Those constructs also include religious beliefs and political labels. From this identification arises the dualism that is at the heart of all violence and war, because it asserts that one is correct, and hence one is wrong. It asserts one is better, worthy, smarter, while the other is not. You can argue all you want about how liberal viewpoints are more American than conservative viewpoints, and how our current mess in America is the logical outcome of conservative politics, and still you will end up with no more than one side opposing the other, with harsh speech and mockery flowing in both directions. What do we gain by this? Nothing for the common man. Like the Housing Bill before the current "Democratically" controlled Senate, is does precious little for the homeowners, and has billions of tax breaks for those who don't own homes, and within that group the ones who are overpaid so ridiculously that the foreclosure issue doesn't matter to them anyway.

That's a slight glimpse at ego. A better view can be found in Eckhart Tolle's new book, A New Earth. The results of ego will be the same no matter which political party controls the government. And so for the time being, we are left with the challenge of fielding better candidates for the future. In part that requires that we ourselves need to do something about our own egos. Otherwise the cycle of violence and hypocrisy and corruption will continue.

We as humans are more capable than that.