For some people, the alternative to hope is to surrender to the horrible things that menace them. The alternative to hope for the upper-middle class is to stay home and watch television or whatever. These alternatives don’t involve death, torture, annihilation, starvation, exploitation, or slavery. So despair is easy, or at least low cost.
There’s also bitter American optimism—nothing bad is supposed to happen to you and, therefore, when something bad does happen, there’s a sense of betrayal and shock. On the other hand, there’s a Buddhist paradigm I find much more useful, which is that suffering is inherent. A certain amount of suffering is a given in this world: old age, sickness, and death are built into it. So the question is not how you avoid it, which is what Americans are always trying to do, but how you are going to respond to it. Paradise lies in forming a meaningful and even a beautiful response.
I love being an American because it’s this great, messy experiment. It’s tedious and failing in a lot of ways, but it’s also full of enormous possibility that calls for participation in shaping the future.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Posted by The Urban Mermaid on Wednesday, March 21, 2012