Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Being Peace, Bearing Witness

I don't believe in World Peace. See? I said it. Mr. Buddhahappypeacelight said that he doesn't believe in world peace and I don't think you should either because really, it's a crock of bs. But don't mistake my words for my meaning. I do, with all of my being, believe peace is both possible and the most noble aspiration of humankind. Contradictory? I don't think so.

Today marks the day exactly one month before the 10th anniversary of September 11th. Details aside, what does this mean? It means we have been at war for 10 years in several different countries. It means thousands of men, women, and children have died as a result of a war they didn't start. It means that trillions of dollars have been wasted on destruction and control while thousands upon thousands still go to bed hungry and without proper education in this country. It means that the war of attrition started by our politicians has managed to survive until another birthday.

Make a wish, Congress and Mr. President. This one's a big one. Congrats.

I wonder what happened to the anti-war movement, the environmental movement, any movement really. No, I'm not talking about "Let's hold hands and sing while we sit in so-and-so's office". That doesn't work anymore. I'm talking about drive and creativity when it comes to standing up for what's right rather than what's easy. Swap out an light bulb for a CFC? Great! I'm happy. But don't call yourself an environmental freedom fighter. I don't even know what it means to be one, and I don't pretend to.

Yesterday I posted a short list of things I want to accomplish, but I left one out purposefully for today:

On September 11th, 2011 I will be holding a vigil for peace at James Madison University.

Time and place to be decided soon, but there you have it. I'm sick of watching idly as our elected in Washington continue a war I didn't start and vote for. I'm sick of hearing the stories of friends' children's funerals, my classmates in 5th grade now dead because they were sent to fight in a war they didn't vote for. I'm sick of the hate and fear that runs its course through our media and our minds of that small patch of land above Africa. I'm sick for the men, women, and children in those countries who never had the thought to blow up a building, yet their homes are bombed in the name of "Peace". I'm sick of it, yet I won't do anything. I won't hold a sign, I won't sing a song. I'll sit.

I'll sit and bear witness, a term crafted by Zen Master and Peace activist Bernie Glassman, to all of this. By sitting, we accept life as it is, allowing all of our anger and the anger of the world to be with us rather than running away. By being with ourselves, by being with the powerful feelings of others, we learn to listen, to understand, and we begin to heal. There can be no hate in this. Anger, sadness, despair, joy, all of these emotions are possible when sitting, observing, witnessing. We sit with all of them. I can't hate our politicians, our troops, the Afghani and Iraqi citizens, or even the "terrorists". When we get down to it, we all have the capacity to play each of those roles, our lives just haven't put us in that place. We can be thankful, and suddenly open ourselves up to the suffering of others. It's not easy, and it will never be easy. But it does get easier.

In lieu of continuing this for several pages, I invite you to keep a look out on Facebook for the event that will be created. Peace be with you.

Be Well.

A List of To Do's

Beware: Reckless-head-in-the-clouds-college-planning ahead. You've been warned.

Life plans. I can't count how many times I've heard people say, "Oh I wish I could do this and that, but *sigh*, work-family-othergeneralexcuse..." in reference to some long forgotten fantasy they had "in their younger years". And this may be my age talking, but why? Our society focuses so much on being "productive", actually producing a service, that I believe we may have forgotten how to live. If we as individuals don't provide a service or produce a tangible object, we're seen as failures, deadbeats, or, worst of all, hippies.

That's a problem, it creates a society that is devoid of introspection and self-reflection, at least to any measurable extent, because it doesn't produce anything tangible. Can it make us happier, more selfless, and conscious? Absolutely! But you can't factor it into GDP, so we tend to forget it. It's why the tradition of religious monastics (Buddhist, Catholic, or otherwise) has been slowly waning. But I digress...

The point of this post is the bring into general detail some nebulous, and not so nebulous, plans I've decided to accomplish by August 8th, 2013 (2 years after having originally set forth my intention). These goals aren't productive. Well, they might be, but that's not why I'm doing them. The following are being done because I want to, not because they might make me money someday, but because I think they're interesting and maybe I could share such interesting knowledge with others. The list goes as follows:

1. Become a certified yoga teacher (200 hr RYT)
2. Learn to sail a boat sans motor
3. Spend 2-4 weeks hiking through another country, speaking as much of the language and as little english as possible
4. Apprentice at a bakery

The first one is for my uncle who passed away 3 months ago today. Yoga was the vehicle that moved him away from the pain of drug addiction and allowed him to fully live and express the beauty of life, even one in what most would call "shambles", he had. I think about him almost daily as I move through life with feeling begrudged or generally pissed off. Really I have nothing but to be grateful for my life, even the seemingly dark parts. The first goal is as much for him and his memory, as it is for me and those whom I wish to give the opportunity to practice.

The last three require a bit less explanation. They're just things I want to do. I like the idea of sailing. I want to go to Japan and/or Wales. And I like making bread. They're what I want to share with the world (especially the bread, it makes everything better).

So there you have it. A formal public commitment. I expect those of you that read this to hold me to it. Because I, just like anyone else, can let "life" take hold and keep me from accomplishing these things. Life is life is life, and I plan to live this one to the fullest.

Be Well.