Thursday, January 10, 2008


" Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. " Dwight D. Eisenhower

In doing some light research on Mahayana Buddhism (the sect of Buddhism with which I fall most in alignment) I found the following summary of the fifth "pledge" a Buddhist takes as translated (or rather, somewhat disambiguated) by Thich Nath Hanh:
[I am] Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practising mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I am committed to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society [sangha]. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practising a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.
I like what he says here about "other items" that contain toxins such as " certain TV programs, magazines, books, films and conversations." I have been a long-time advocate of dismantling the television from my daily life, but I hadn't much considered magazines, books, films and conversations as possible pollutants. Well, maybe the conversations. And maybe the other stuff, too... just maybe not in this way.

I think it's important to recognize that it's not only food that we consume.

Still, I choose not to purchase magazines that capitalize on other peoples "indecency" or privacy; I don't buy books written by people that I am certain to find moral disagreement and I really can't stand mindless pulp cum "box office hit of the summer." I would rather stare at the sky on a cloudy day.

What I really love most about the above translation is this line: "I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations." Just beautiful.

And I sometimes worry that maybe by abstaining I put myself in some sort of false reality, until I realize that reality is just what we make it anyway. I'm aware of social injustices in the world. I'm also aware that I can do better to dismantle it by not supporting those that support injustice. Rather than give these injustices my attention and speech, I choose to support their opposites. Ultimately, activities in talking about it serve no purpose. There's no such thing as bad press, but there is such a thing as having no support.

A proponent for peace will do his best to put his dollar where it really counts: in the hands of people who support his ideals.


Blogger Journeyfree said...

"A proponent for peace will do his best to put his dollar where it really counts: in the hands of people who support his ideals."

That's a great way to phrase this thought. One thing that pops in my mind though--would you think it'd then be necessary for one to do background research on every place shopped, to see what the company supports?

And another thought, speaking of toxic media, one has to wonder (and speaking as someone who is a fan of the show I'm about to mention) if watching shows like Deadwood are toxic considering the amount of violence and bad language--even though this is a fair depiction of what life was like in those days, in that area.

January 11, 2008 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger keri marion said...

I think these are really excellent questions, some of which we've discussed lightly already, but I am willing to think about more deeply. I probably have not thought about it very deeply yet, but I'll attempt to answer anyway.

1) I don't know if it's necessary to background research on every place shopped. It should mostly be enough to ask yourself the following questions:

A) Is this a store owned and operated by people in my community?

B) Have I seen this store involved in community events, either by financially sponsoring or physically participating to better the area where we all live?

C) Am I outwardly aware that this company supports a political system with which I morally disagree?

I mean, we don't have to go into a big long thing about it; that doesn't make any sense either. No company is going to agree with us 100%. What we're looking for is changing our world by supporting things we agree with for our community. If we all support our community, then we will develop communities that are self-sufficient in which our legislative representative will be held accountable for their decisions. It's the trickle-up theory.

2) Toxic media. I know we spoke briefly about this, but I think my stance will start to solidify around the idea that only we, each, individually, can make the decision of what is toxic for us.

I can only speak for myself, so I choose to support media I think is important for whatever reason. There will be people who disagree with me, and for It's a different thing than saying "I'm banning Media X," instead "I support Media Y."

I suppose this isn't too far off from what movies like "The Secret" propose - instead of being Anti-War, we are Pro-Peace. It's a content doppleganger - we mean Y when we say X, so why not just say Y in the first place.

These are really excellent questions and I'm gonna think more about them as I drift to lala land in not very many minutes from now. :)

January 12, 2008 at 9:53 PM  

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