Friday, January 21, 2005
Seems that once again I've fallen a day behind on the blog: Wednesday, I was writing about Monday and Tuesday's meals; Thursday, I was writing about Dogen's Wednesday birthday; and now it's Friday, and I'm writing about Thursday's inauguration.
Of course, I'm writing about trivial things on the fringes of my real life. Since I've violated Tony Pierce's rule of not telling friends about my blog, it's once again become difficult to discuss what's really been on my mind. Not that I don't think about what I eat or Dogen's birthday or W.'s inauguration, but other things have also been on my mind lately. But to discuss those things here would only hurt those involved and make matters worse, and it is not the aim of this blog to inflict more pain and suffering on the world.
So let's talk instead about yesterday's inauguration and Bush's rather evangelical speech. None other than Peggy Noonan, former Nixon speechwriter and former campaign worker for W., found the inaugural speech startling. "It left me with a bad feeling, and reluctant dislike," she stated.
"This world is not heaven," she wrote. "The president's speech seemed rather heavenish. It was a God-drenched speech. This president, who has been accused of giving too much attention to religious imagery and religious thought, has not let the criticism enter him. God was invoked relentlessly."
During his speech, Mr. Bush said, "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in the world."
Ms. Noonan: "Ending tyranny in the world? Well that's an ambition, and if you're going to have an ambition it might as well be a big one. But this declaration, which is not wrong by any means, seemed to me to land somewhere between dreamy and disturbing. Tyranny is a very bad thing and quite wicked, but one doesn't expect we're going to eradicate it any time soon. Again, this is not heaven, it's earth."
Toward the end of his speech, Mr. Bush included the following rather remarkable statement: "Renewed in our strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom."
That statement is - how else to put it? - over the top. According to Ms. Noonan, "It is the kind of sentence that makes you wonder if this White House did not, in the preparation period, have a case of what I have called in the past 'mission inebriation.' A sense that there are few legitimate boundaries to the desires born in the goodness of their good hearts. One wonders if they shouldn't ease up, calm down, breathe deep, get more securely grounded. The most moving speeches summon us to the cause of what is actually possible. Perfection in the life of man on earth is not."
From a Zen perspective, of course, "perfection" and "heaven" are merely human concepts, and the world is neither "perfect" nor "imperfect," neither "heaven" nor "hell." The world is simply thus, impermanent and beyond any of our labels, and suffering derives from our attempts to make it conform to our expectations. The world includes both tyranny and our desire to eradicate the world of tyranny. Peace is found in tolerance and acceptance.
Posted by Shokai at 1:14 PM