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!