Happy Chinese New Year, everyone. Welcome to the Year of the Pig.
This morning, I gave my Zen Buddhism talk at the Covenant Presbyterian Church. They were a very polite and attentive audience, and listened quietly while I talked about lineage and practice from my personal perspective. We even did a two-minute exercise in breathing meditation. It was far from the traditional "Buddhism 101" lecture that I normally give, but the Rev. Jill asked for just that kind of personal insight.
Next week, they're coming to our center for a taste of the actual experience.
Yesterday, Greensmile, commenting on my post about the Georgia anti-evolution, anti-Semitic, anti-heliocentric universe memo, asked, "Aren't Georgians embarrassed? The Onion wouldn't make up a story that far fetched." Steve from Clayton, Georgia said, "At least you get to live in Atlanta. You should try having these weirdos for neighbors," and answers Greensmile's question with his dead-on post, "Nutty Creationist Lawmaker Ben Bridges Embarrasses Georgia."
Actually though, I'm not embarrassed to be living in Georgia, I'm just embarrassed over some of my nutty creationist, weirdo neighbors. Steve from Clayton is right, Atlanta is something of an urban (well, okay, suburban) island in the middle of the state, both demographically, politically and culturally. Sort of like Austin.
But embarrassment is one thing, and alarm another. Rep. Bridges can write his memos (or not, as he claims) all he wants to no great harm, but we have mad dogs like nutty political wack-job Zell Miller to watch, not to mention Arizona's presidential aspirant John McCain ("hey, let's repeal Roe v. Wade").
But what's even more alarming is that we have another creationist nut-job, this one from Texas, in the White House right now, whose proposed solution to America's growing dissatisfaction with the war (and by the way, what took you so long, America?) is, more war. More troops for Iraq, and let's talk about invading Iran as long as we're at it.
There's a great line in the Iraq Study Group Report (yes, I've read it) that says, "America's other security needs and the future of our military cannot be made hostage to the actions or inactions of the Iraqi government") (Recommendation 41, page 75). Here's a President who champions the go-it-alone approach to world diplomacy, who rejected the world's consensus for more negotiation before invading Iraq on the grounds that only America can look out for our own interests, who sends nutty isolationist John Bolton to the U.N., and then turns around and commits the vast majority of our strategic forces and defense to wet-nurse a civil war and a basket-case government until, well, until when?
How will we know when this thing is over? When there's democracy in the Middle East? They've had three elections already. When they have their own government? For better or worse, they've got what they elected, just like us. When there's finally a lasting peace? That simply ain't going to happen.
Make no mistake about it - al Qaeda and the like love having us there. As long as American troops are in Iraq, our presence there is galvanizing Islamic opinion against us and dividing America against itself. They're winning the propaganda war by far, and they'd like nothing more than our troops to be there indefinitely. They've proved that they are masters at agitating the area and preventing any kind of peace, keeping us committed there for as long as they want, while we're more-or-less powerless to do much of anything else anywhere else in the world. You can say our troops and our policies are both already hostages to the terrorists, and the war is just "emboldening the enemy."
My point here is that there's not that great a distance between nutty creationist lawmaker Ben Bridges and nutty political mad dog Zell Miller, and then the distance from nutty political mad dog Zell Miller is not so great to strategic blunderbuss George W. Bush. And since they all claim to be informed and motivated by religion, they're not all that different, at least in principal, from the Islamic extremists they're engaging "over there."
And the Year of the Pig is just beginning.