I got very worked up yesterday about this new war, very angry and hurt. This blog post by Noam Chomsky, maybe surprisingly, maybe not, made me feel much better, sort of forcing my vantage point back to a reassuring philosophical distance. Noam Chomsky is one of really few public intellectuals I always trust, ever since reading the mind-blowing and undeniable Manufacturing Consent in my late 20s, and, though I know there are some who see his name and roll their eyes, I'm too old to care. A prophet who isn't widely considered a crank is likely not a true prophet.
C. took me to task yesterday for writing somewhere on Facebook that I was angrier at Obama than I'd been at Bush. What I meant to express is that I was more deeply hurt because this new war is the last thing I expected from Obama whereas with Bush it was no surprise and I never liked him anyway so he couldn't hurt me. I guess I thought it was self-evident that Bush is the greater evil. I was just talking about my feelings.
And that's the problem. Why am I taking all this stuff so personally? I've been thinking about my blog post from yesterday, about how I reacted somewhat blandly to the events of 9/11. Because I was off the grid. Because I was in a beautiful forest. Because my own life was distracting me from world politics. The lesson that I seem to be trying to teach myself -- again -- is that it's not about me.
I will try to watch these world events unfold and not experience it all as a personal insult. You all know how I feel about this war and other wars, and now I will try to keep in check my moment to moment outrage.
As always in moments of anxiety about the world around me, it helps to return to my Lo Jong slogans. The operative one here is "Regard all dharmas as dreams." Pema Chodron, with Chomsky in my pantheon of reliable and always pertinent teachers, says:
Whatever you experience in your life—pain, pleasure, heat, cold or anything else—is like something happening in a dream. Although you might think things are very solid, they are like passing memory. You can experience this open, unfixated quality in sitting meditation; all that arises in your mind—hate love and all the rest—is not solid. Although the experience can get extremely vivid, it is just a product of your mind. Nothing solid is really happening.Words to live by as we glide together to the end of the Holocene.