IMPEACH GEORGE BUSH!! The Angry Buddhist: The Meaning of Life

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Meaning of Life

The Angry Buddhist has been preversely juiced by the results of last week's election and even more so by the deluge of analysis on how and why it all happened.

Why am I energized while so many others are at best demoralized and filled with dispair? Is it my furious zen nature?

No, I am amped because the persception is that the Democrats suffered such a stinging and sweeping defeat that everything is up for grabs now - which means it's suddenly within the grasp of The Angry Buddhist who is not afraid to reach for it.

With Moral Values scoring the headlines and holding the news cycle hostage since the electoral bitch slapping, the very souls of Democrats have been called into question along with our spiritual soundness - not to mention our chances in the afterlife - and The Angry Buddhist says it's about damn time we ennunciate our answers so even the most simple minded understand what we're saying.

But I submit to you that here, in the now, the real question is - What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What is our purpose? How should we be spending our time?

Gay Marriage? Abortion? Those are kid stuff. The Angry Buddhist says, let's get down to the real nitty gritty and talk about what we really stand for and why. Because without that discussion the rest is pretty damn trivial.

This is the golden opportunity - one I don't remember ever having before - and I welcome this wide open chance to help answer those questions or at the very least to ask the questions that haven't been part of the conversation before.

I've been searching for answers, reasons and direction and reading blogs, newspapers, magazines and commentaries from all around the globe. Most of what I hear on CNN, MSNBC and Fox-News is crap and just talking points propaganda with hardly anything resembling legitimate journalism or reporting from any source. But they do serve to dish up the convential wisdom from all the usual suspects.

In the blog world, Chris Bowers writes for the My DD website and he had a great post-election strategy memo about demonizing the religous right the same way the right has so successfuly demonized liberalism:
We destroy conservatism itself by defining it as being a member of the reactionary religious right. We tarnish the notion of being conservative to the entire nation. We trap all conservatism inside the reactionary right-wing ideology of the Christian Coalition with a permanent campaign that seeks to define that ideology as negative to the vast majority of the country that does not hold that ideology (it doesn't). Thus, our amalgamation of minorities will become the mainstream, while their homogenized national plurality becomes fringe.
Beyond his take on strategy Chris does a great job of laying out how much easier it is for the homogenous right to stay unified and connected than it is for the patchwork quilt left, or the "everyone else" as he refers to us.

To me the issue basically comes down to calling them on their own shit. You know where I stand - that the majority of so called conservative christians don't walk the walk and don't live the life they want to dictate for everyone else. Hypo-Christs as I like to think of them. They talk a good game of values but they can't back it up. They wear their self-appointed moral superiority like American flag lapel pins.

Of course that's not going to stop them from demanding the spoils that they believe go with their victory. The infamous Bob Jones III of Bob Jones University, wrote President Bush a letter dictating his demands and direction from the Lord:
In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.
But The Angry Buddhist thinks the God Squad is overplaying its hand and underestimating the power of the real god Bush and company worship - corporate money. Don't just take my word for it, check out what Frank Rich has to say in his New York Times Piece for next Sunday, On Moral Values It's Blue In A Landslide":
Mr. Murdoch and his fellow cultural barons - from Sumner Redstone, the Bush-endorsing C.E.O. of Viacom, to Richard Parsons, the Republican C.E.O. of Time Warner, to Jeffrey Immelt, the Bush-contributing C.E.O. of G.E. (NBC Universal) - are about to be rewarded not just with more tax breaks but also with deregulatory goodies increasing their power to market salacious entertainment. It's they, not Susan Sarandon and Bruce Springsteen, who actually set the cultural agenda Gary Bauer and company say they despise.
Rich also makes some great points about who the real liberals and conservatives are.

So no one is happier than me, The Angry Buddhist, that this debate is now scheduled for prime time, because the fact is I've been bemoaning the coarsening of our culture for the last 20 years. While others give lip service to real conservative values, The Angry Buddhist lives them every single day. And it's about time I got the credit and halo for it.

It's not the Angry Buddhist or his children who are playing ultra violent and depraved video games. I've said for decades that they are breeding generations of desensitized killers. X-Box, Playstation, Nintendo? All perfect for teaching conflict resolution through total destruction of your enemies. Tell me, how those games selling in the red states?

I also don't watch the horror films and slasher movies that make death, dismemberment and disgusting acts on human beings their biggest drawing cards. How well do those movies do in the South and the Midwest states?

Rap music and the videos that go with them? I'm too conservative for that. I think they promote a thug and pimp lifestyle. I think they're too loud and too profane. Eminem seems like a foul mouth punk to me.

I think Britney Speers and her ilk are sluts and role models for hookers only. Anyone know if her stuff sells any in the red states?

I think society is generally oversexed throughout the culture. It's so pervasive kids can't escape it from television to magazines to billboards to the Internet. Tits and ass seem just as popular in middle America as they do elsewhere.

I think gambling is a blight on society and a ethically empty way to find entertainment. I think it gives false hope to the poor and elderly while taking their money with ridiculously stacked odds.

I get no joy watching the pain, discomfort or embarrassment of others - the core attractions of TVs highest rated reality shows. I don't watch them - ever. Think they get any kind of ratings in the red states?

South Park? Too offensive and stupidly juvenile for my taste. I'm no fan of bathroom humor or the scatalogical. American Pie/Wedding? Not funny to me. Call me a prude. But do tell me how popular that brand of funny is in Texas or Oklahoma or Nebraska or Wyoming.

I find movies in general less and less entertaining or creative and today's movie going experience is too rude and discourtious for my taste. 2004 is the first year I did not see a movie in the theatre. I did not miss it. Sound conservative or liberal to you? How's the movie attendence in all those morale values states? All those tickets for the "Passion of the Christ" only?

I am not now, nor have I ever been a fan of comedians who use the word "fuck" as a substitute for being funny. How totally uncool of me.

I have been married once, for the last 23 years. But I hear the divorce and infidelity rates in the red states are nothing Jesus would be happy about.

If you ask me the religious right is morally bankrupt and totally vulnerable to the tough questions that they can never answer.

Chris Bower has an excellent take on that too, "Real Conservative Values":

To all of this I say hogwash. George Bush is a self-proclaimed conservative. In this election, 84% of those people who identify as conservatives voted for George Bush, thereby endorsing his policies. I say, and my Catholic upbringing says, that your actions are your beliefs, and there is no difference between the two. Considering this, it is time to face some facts:
Bower deals with the reality of what constitutes conservative values that include record deficits and unprovoked wars among other things. He may not be a Buddhist, but he is indeed angry.

There was a piece in yesterday's Los Angeles Times that asked some of those tough values questions, "Moderates, Liberals Hear Call to Morality Debate" and the most surprising part was that the questions came from so called moderate and liberal Christian religious leaders:
The Rev. Robert W. Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, said the election had opened a public dialogue on the meaning of values: "Do you mean private piety, or values locked into civil unions, abortion or homosexuality? Or do you mean public values, like eliminating poverty and healing the earth and seeking nonviolence and peaceful collaboration?"
But the person who made the most sense to me, and who I actually found inspirational was Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of the magazine Tikkun. In his Op Ed piece from Nov 7 he wrote:
Tens of millions of Americans feel betrayed by a society that seems to place materialism and selfishness above moral values. They know that looking out for No. 1 has become the accepted wisdom of our society, but they want a life that involves more -- a framework of meaning and purpose that would transcend the grasping and narcissism that surrounds them. Many of these voters have found this "politics of meaning" in the right. In the right-wing churches and synagogues, these voters are presented with a coherent world view that speaks to their needs.
I urge you to read the rest of the Rabbi's piece because he is the only one talking about the Meaning of Life and man, does he get it.

Imagine a Democratic Party that could talk of a New Bottom Line, so that American institutions are judged to be efficient and productive not only to the extent that they increase financial performance, but also to the extent that they increase people's capacities to be loving and caring, ethically and ecologically sensitive, and capable of responding to the universe with awe and wonder.
I submit that the whole Moral Values issue is a Trojan Horse, a red herring to cover up the immorality behind the tax cuts for the rich, destructive pork barrel breaks for the corporate kings, and the complete invisibility and deafness towards those living in poverty, and under reigns of terror from gangs and thugs.

The American way of life has become a greedy, poccession gathering treadmill of unfulfilling gestures, statements and poses. Living in fear does not give life meaning whether it be fear of terrorism or fear of hell. Living for the bling-bling gives no meaning to life either.

The Angry Buddhist knows what wise men and women before him have long understood. That the meaning of all of our lives is enhanced through the help, kindness and caring we extend to others. Knowing that I feel that assholes abound and surround us you can imagine how it pains me to admit this.

Millions of Americans live quiet lives of lonliness and desperation and yearn for something along the lines of Frank Capra's "Meet John Doe" and its John Doe clubs. They long for something that transcends all the pettiness, fear and hostility and brings people together in a sense of shared community and brotherhood. Something with the bonding power of 9-11 but without a tragedy to provoke it.

That's what The Angry Buddhist says the Democrats, liberals and progressives need to offer as the alternative to the right and the appeal their platform holds for those seeking the meaning that eludes them inside.

"Hypo-Christs" is the funniest thing I've read all week. Nice one!
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