This isn’t over. This wasn’t a protest. This wasn’t a riot. This was, and still is a bloody coup attempt.
Wednesday’s attack on the nation’s capital was designed to negate the presidential election results, and disabled the current and the incoming government. People were purposely killed. Many law enforcement agents helped to enable the breach. Democratically, and currently sitting members of the House and Senate supported it, and engaged in disinformation tactics to further it. The President who initiated it is still in power for 11 more days. His VP refuses to invoke the 25th Amendment. The leader of the Senate is hinting that he would not be calling the Senate back in session for any sort of second impeachment. The siege of the Capitol Building that was very likely meant to remove specific people in the line of succession. And 99% of the people who stormed the seat of democracy are still free to plan, and to act.
I just drove by a gun store near my house here in NH, and the normally sparsely populated parking lot was packed. There is a longer line to get into the gun shop than there is at the grocery store down the street.
But, news outlets keep telling me that it was just a protest. And politicians tell me that these people are just trying to protect their toilet paper supply. I’m sure it’s fine, right?
One of the exercises that I found particularly helpful when discussing the concept of ’emptiness’ in Buddhism, was trying to figure out at what point a car is a car.
For example: We have a car in front of us…
If I remove the engine, and the leave the rest of the body, frame, etc., is that still a car?
What if I then take off all of the doors, is it still a car now?
Or how about if I took out all the wiring and stuff, is that still a car then?
You can see how the exercise goes. At some point the realization began to set in that all things are all composite. We ourselves, are not singular. And we really are not separate from other beings. We are all made of of countless other components, and those things themselves are made up of even smaller elements. You can follow this logic as far down as you like, ultimately splashing around in the quantum foam like are in a 50’s surf movie.
But what if applied this logic to other things? Like what happened yesterday at the capital.
At what point does a protest become a riot?
At what point does riot become sedition?
At what point does a sedition become an insurrection?
At what point does insurrection become civil war?
What I have discovered is that rarely are there clear lines showing separation in nature. We tend only to be able to identify things after a new form has become apparent to us. In Buddhism, I have found this very humbling. When it comes to public safety, things get very messy and dangerous very quickly.
I published the following post on November 5, 2016. I thought I would republish it today.
It’s clear that I have been unsually quiet over the last couple of weeks leading up to this election. While everyone else is doubling down with only days to go, I’ve done the opposite.
I’m fried. Burnt out. Frazzled.
I tend to think through things to see their logical end. When it comes to this election there are really only two possible outcomes since no third party candidate is even within shouting distance of being able to pretend they have a chance. And so, as everyone in the world has noted, there is going to be a President Clinton or a President Trump. Except that’s not the two outcomes I have been thinking about…
If Donald Trump loses, his supporters have hinted, or just plain came out and stated, that they will revolt. And since many of these same people are also armed and more than willing to use their weapons on someone who isn’t American-looking enough for them (or just give them the beat down anyway, as has been happening more and more lately), there is no reason not to take this threat extremely seriously.
Of course, if Donald Trump wins the same people have also made it just as clear that they will take the results as a mandate to get to right to work cleaning up the country and ridding it of anyone who doesn’t look, act, or sound American enough for them.
In other words, the same crap is going to happen regardless of who wins or loses. We are virtually guaranteed of increased violence against certain people based on their looks, their faith, the way they talk, and even what they think.
And so, what I have been musing on is not the election so much as the results. The political pundits have been honing their ability to divide people over the last few decades. The idea has always been to identify the differences between “us and them” and amplify it until people feel that the choice is no longer just political, but existential as well. The resulting divide has already harmed families and friendships, and caused irrevocable damage at the cost of a swing vote or two. But because these political operatives live their lives in this cesspool of divisiveness, they’ve forgotten that everyday people don’t. As a result, voters don’t see things as “just politics” anymore. What was once a “get out the vote effort”, has now become a road map for lasting civil strife in America.
I started this blog with far more noble intentions than bashing on an orange fascist. I wanted to explore the similarities that we all have, deep down. I wanted to unify, not divide. Instead, I too followed the same tainted partisan schisms, in an effort to somehow keep hate at bay. Only, you can’t stop hate, you can really only increase understanding. Understanding leads to familiarity, and with familiarity comes caring and concern. Until we can finally recognize that we are all humans seeking the same basic needs (clean air and water, food, clothing and shelter, as well as safety and security), then we will listen to the political static. We will follow the hyperbolic narrations that are designed to turn our neighbors into enemies, and politicians into saviors.
Unless we are willing to cross the street and shake hands with our political opponents, we are most assuredly heading into a dark period of our history. It will really all hinge on how many kind acts we can perform for one another, regardless of politics. If we can’t do that, then the election itself is meaningless. Hate has already won.
Watching the news right now is like watching that scene in Rocky where they’ve both beaten the shit out of each other and they finally both fall down. Now they’re both struggling to climb up the ropes as the official is counting to 10 in slow motion…
So, the only organization that has called winners and losers in a U.S. Presidential elections on election night have been news organizations. They make predictions based on the percentage of counted votes that the States themselves make public. But suddenly this president is demanding that “we accept the call that’s made on TV the night of the election.”
Okay, so ignoring the fact that anyone who voted 20 years ago knows that’s not true. And ignoring the idea that most people prior to the mid-20th century must have just stared at the blank spot on the wall where their future TV would go, and waited for some answers from it. And ignoring the fact that the only reason he is president right now is because of the electoral college, which does not vote for at least a few more weeks (you’d think he’d want to wait around for that one, right? [*cough* *cough* 3 million votes *cough* *cough*])…
Putting all of that aside, you’ve got to wonder why the guy who has been doing his best to delegitimize “the fake news media”, suddenly wants to hang all of his hopes on what they have to say tomorrow night.
Editorial comment: Somehow a very important few words disappeared from the first sentence when I first published this. The first sentence has been changed to reflect that I meant ‘on election night’.
It seems that I tend to post this once in a while, and there’s usually good reason each time. Aside from the fact that this is one of my all-time favorite poems, for me it also calls up a reality check. I’m not alone in that fact, either. And, I have always loved the version that Joni Mitchell arranged, so today I am posting that with the text of the poem. Read deep.
We humans have enough of a history that shows how clearly we are capable of existential damage to each other, as well as our environment. I don’t believe there is anything particularly prophetic in this poem/song, but there are some huge reminders.
The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. The darkness drops again; but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Today I saw two fairly typical rural New Hampshirey kind of guys (white males, beards and baseball caps, obligatory work boots, and a variety of apparel from famed designers such as Mossie Oake and Coco Flanell) slogging hip deep through the roadside tick-grass dragging a massive sign that proclaimed: “Asians for Trump”. These guys were in the process of hammering it into the ground directly between myself and a bunch of very beautiful fall leaves. I absolutely hate political signs.
I suspect if I had actually pulled over and pointed out to these guys just how dense their political irony was, it would be as welcome from me as breaking the news about where fortune cookies actually come from.
The problem is that publicly voicing any sort of political speech these days is just as likely to get you shot, as get you are to get run over by a muscle car or big-ass truck with giant tires and a Punisher sticker on the back window. All while sustaining a barrage of colorful potty words, and various observations about your appearance and pedigree.
I am afraid that no matter who wins this presidential election, there will be violent reactions across the country, leading to far more deaths than there should ever be in a country with free and fair elections. And if you’re wondering just how many deaths should happen as a result of free and fair elections, the answer is zero.
I was listening to a music stream and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down came on. Rather than just enjoy a wonderful song on a nice sunny day, instead I thought, “I wonder when we’re going to start writing these types of songs for what’s going on in America right now?” I suppose one possible title would be something like, The Day They Gassed Lafayette Square.”