retirement, I am worried. Social Security ran into the red last year.
Medicare has been in the red for several years. The "trust fund" was
a scam, fostered by Republicans and Democrats alike. They piddled
away the money.
The chickens are coming home. They are angry chickens, mean
spirited with sharp beaks. They frighten me. Our country needs some
self renewal before we go the way of Greece, rioting and chanting "let
the oligarches pay." This is not going to end well. Oligarchs don't pay
because they have the dough to avoid it. The money is gone.
If we Boomers have any hope at all of national self renewal, we
have only one option. We have to work together. We have to get along.
You see, a good deal of research on decision making suggests that diversity
is a key to great decisions. If you have a very diverse group, the quality of
the decisions will be much better than a group where all are the same.
Homogeneity means mediocrity. We must have a diverse group. But we
cannot attack each other in that group. Dialog, not diatribe.
Today, June 20, in HuffPo I read Depak Chopra's snarky rant on
Sarah Palin. It disheartened me. I don't know Chopra as well as I ought, but
I had seen him as a spiritual man. What I read today is not spiritual. It is
small and mean spirited. National self renewal fades like a mirage in the desert.
Don't people on the right do the same thing? Yes, no question. It is
part of our human nature. Right or left. We like to dehumanize the Other. They
are gooks, japs, huns. We can kill them because they are not us. They are not
Real People. I take this to be a disastrous error. Right or left, the error is built
into us. Thirty thousand years ago, loyalty to tribe was everything. A lone wolf
will perish, a wolf in a robust pack will eat well. It is no accident that wolves
were perhaps our first domesticated animal. It is even possible they domesticated
us. We lived in the pack, and we were loyal to the pack.
But we no longer live in packs, tribes, we live in a world community. In
her book, A Distant Mirror, Barbara Tuchman suggested that in the 13th century,
killing another person wasn't a terribly serious crime. Today it is. Our instincts
no longer work. They are still there. They are dysfunctional.
We have to rise above our instincts. Chopra has failed by painting Palin
as the Other, by name calling, by exaggeration and outright falsehoods. We deserve
better of a man who aspires to be a guru, a spiritual leader.
I have a dream today. When I first heard those words, I was thrilled. I wanted
to be part of that dream. Didn't you?
Can we form a dream in which we refuse to say that person is the
Other, the inhuman enemy. Can we not see everyone as brothers and sisters?
You see, diversity is necessary for good decision making. But only in
an environment of respect and civility. We have never had that in politics,
you may say, and you would be right. But it is worthy of consideration.
Compassion -- what Buddhists call Metta, lovingkindness, is one of the most
reliable pathways to happiness. It makes us more creative, more intelligent. But
we must pay a price for that intelligence. We must master our instincts to attack
the Other. I must, as Jesus said, love my neighbors and forgive them even before
they ask it of me. Buddha is right. Jesus is right. We know that now.
Let us turn from ad hominem attacks, let us turn from mocking and
ridiculing. Let us listen closely. The left is correct. We must try to take care of
each other. The right is correct. The money is running out, and Greece looms.
Let us cultivate love, compassion, charity toward all, and especially toward
those with whom we strongly disagree. What can we learn from them? How
dare we suppose we alone are right? What can we learn from our enemies,
especially if we love our enemies? I believe, a very great deal.
Chopra is a fool. I know that because I myself am often a fool,
and I know how it feels. As a brother fool, my heart goes out to him.
I love him. I grieve for him.
Can't we just all get along?
Dr Lynn Johnson is a brother, not a sister to Chopra and all humans. His
mother saddled him with a gender-ambiguous name, so he has compassion
for the outsider. He has worked as a psychologist for over thirty years and
is happy, but pessimistic about the survival of Social Security and Medicare.
He hopes that the left and right can come together and create a solution that
works. He writes on human self renewal at http://enjoylifebook.com.
Check out his blog.