First comes the rant. I must get this out of my system… then I’ll see if I can turn this into a dharma lesson, because I need one after getting embroiled in a twitter storm over Kaine vs. Pence! The “Bernie Bros” may only read this first para, so let me say while I certainly admire your idealism, reality is this: a vote for Jill Stein or even #TeamGov (with my own former Governor Gary Johnson) will help elect the megalomaniac, pathological egotist, Trump. Sadly it’s fact. We can prove that votes for Ralph Nader in 2000 divided Democrats and handed the election to Bush, who truly wrecked the economy and started the current wars. So, as I said with my “mic drop” tweet, even our beloved Bernie will tell you this! (UPDATE: and he did at the Convention.)

Words truly do have meaning. When we say “fascist” (lower case “f”) it stands for an autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader. Trump claims “only I can fix this.” He’s a fascist who fosters Xenophobia.  If you think he’ll change, that’s delusion.

The word xenophobia is pronounced zeen-ah phobia. When Hillary said “Zen-a-phobia” I laughed out loud because, after all, I am ZenWoman. It’s a moniker I’ve carried since 1980 when I first needed a “user” name for the original online CompuServe. Back then I was dabbling in Zen, more the philosophy than religion. When I had to come up with an online ID for the computer system, I wanted to convey something about my views and that I was female. Back then computers, like poker, were a man’s domain. If you were playing poker or getting geeky you were either considered a “sassy gal” or a dyke. I fell into the sassy category. Anyway, this is why I chuckled at Hillary saying “zen a phobic” which actually is part of Xenophobia.

Recently when I posted about my new dharma name on FaceBook, friends congratulated me, but I wondered how many reading my post were fearful or bigoted about my involvement with foreign religions and philosophy. That is the meaning of Xenophobia. It’s a fear of foreign ideas, concepts or religions.

The purpose of a dharma name for a Buddhist is kind of like baptism or taking an oath, but not exactly. While it is part of an initiation ceremony and confirms that one is “officially” a Buddhist, it can also reflect what we need to focus on as part of our Practice (that being our meditation and contemplation practice, as well as carrying out our precepts.) I’m taking time to define each term to avoid the kind of confusion I’ve seen on Twitter where Muslim names are being associated with terrorist pledges. People are confusing social media IDs (like my ZenWoman) or made-up names, like cop-killer Gavin Long’s Cosmo Setepenra, as a Muslim name. This is how conspiracy theories begin. “That’s his Muslim name.” (I saw posted more than once online!) NO! Long gave himself that name and promoted himself online as a “lifestyle guru” who praised polygamy. That has NOTHING to do with Islam or Buddhism.

A primary Buddhist precept is non-violence and no killing. And, we mean NO killing. That applies to animals, birds, reptiles and insects, as well as humans.  All are considered sentient beings. Sentience is defined as awareness or consciousness. Now we can have some pretty rousing dharma debates about who and what is sentient. I’m not sure #theDonald is sentient (just kidding) but I know my yard lizards are. They are certainly aware of me. Bugs are also aware. Ants and beetles scurry away to avoid being hurt. Part of the definition of sentience is avoiding pain. No one wants to suffer, and in my opinion that applies to plants and microscopic life forms, too.

I know this is getting into the “weeds” (which are also aware in a Quantum way), but let’s end with the most important point: why not embrace diversity rather than reject it? Why is “knowing stuff” considered elitist or bad? Why hate people based on their religion or skin color? I’m not thrilled that we have only “white people” running for President, but at least Tim Kaine lived in Honduras, learned to love Caribbean culture and speaks Spanish (in addition to his “amazing” work resume.) I trust him to be a more tolerant leader, as one who has witnessed dictators close up, and knows how dangerous Xenophobia can be!

Let’s keep our diverse Democracy and not hand it over to a fear mongering “strong man” who prefers to sit on a golden throne. After all, that’s why we broke away from England in the first place!

On #ForeverForward

BernieUSmovementSenator Bernie Sanders conceded the Democratic nomination on Tuesday (July 12.)  I’ve been through ALL of the various stages of grief, including denial (crying), anger (vomiting, well almost) and now acceptance. I don’t want to accept that it’s over. Until now we #StillSanders supporters had a glimmer of hope.

Before stepping on stage with Hillary to proclaim they are now #StrongerTogether, Bernie sent us a very thoughtful email. He also posted it on Medium. Here is Bernie’s  Forever Forward message and  my response (the last link goes directly to my response, or just read it below.)

Of course I will continue to stand with you, Senator Sanders, to defeat Trump and his ridiculous, unfocused “campaign” of insults and ignorance. I was a Bernie fan before you ran for President and will always appreciate and support your life-long crusade for equality, “liberty and justice for ALL.”

Most of your HUGE following has come from Independent (or previously non-declared) voters. YOU have been our only Independent U.S. Senator and that’s why I could always trust your votes and comments. While you almost always voted with other Democrats, you retained the right to dissent and often spoke out on controversial issues like climate change, oil pipelines and fracking. While we are proud and grateful that you have moved the Dems to the left, we are sad and yes disillusioned to see you “swallowed up” by the Democratic Machine.

I am no kid — FAR from it. I am closer to social security than college concerns. Yet I cried on and off all day Tuesday like a baby wishing you could have waited for the convention to make that speech. We wanted our moment (actually many minutes) of chanting, clapping and showing the world our commitment to a peaceful political revolution. I’m sure there were compelling reasons and compromises that required this early concession, but all I can say is it was sad and it SUCKED watching our dreams consumed by the Borg assimilation process. If you can’t stand up to the pressure, who can? (I could make an Obi Wan analogy, but that’s too much SF in one paragraph.)

I was young, but I vividly recall when Bobby Kennedy was gunned down ending our hope of another Kennedy administration. I watched in horror when my country chose Nixon and his “dirty tricks” over McGovern and of course it ended VERY badly! Same with Reagan and his “dark arts” and VooDoo economics (none worked), and the most painful for me was the ballot thievery that stole the 2000 election from Al Gore. I haven’t even mentioned how third party Green or Indie candidates may have inadvertently contributed to some of those tragic turn outs.

NO, I don’t want a lunatic like Trump as President, so if it means supporting HRC and playing the woman card, then yes, deal me in. We must protect our liberties, First Amendment rights, and HUMAN rights in the Supreme Court. That alone is why we can’t run the risk of splitting votes and losing the election with Green or Libertarian voting. Sad but true, and why you have worked within the system, rather than against it, this year.

So, thank you for your tireless work on the platform, and all you’ve done to inspire a new generation of voters. Who knows, maybe you will be asked and agree to be the HRC VP. Doubtful and honestly I’m sure you can do more to benefit Congress and our country returning to your Indie status, where you are now the rock star of DC — deservedly so. Thank YOU, Senator Sanders!