John Colson; Hit and Run | AspenTimes.com
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John Colson; Hit and Run

John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado

I don’t know how the Buddhists do it.

In the midst of the tumult and swirl of politics high and low, intrigues great and small, they sit in serenity and think their deep thoughts and scarcely let anything bother them.

I actually was a Buddhist once in my misbegotten youth, having joined the Nichren Shoshu sect in Washington, D.C. in order to get close to two girls who had waylaid me at DuPont Circle one summer’s day.

They were devotees, I was their mark, and they flirted and teased me into visiting their “temple” (a cinderblock bunker in a remote part of town) and joining the throng. This was, probably still is, a sect that chants “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” endlessly while hunched over in front of a Gongyo or shrine, as well as a longer chant that I never did master.

That foray into the mysteries of the universe didn’t last long, as the girls obviously weren’t interested in me and the sect seemed a little too grasping and militaristic for my tastes.

Still, I was impressed by the determined equanimity that emanated from those chanting figures, and wished I could be the same, instead of the frustrated witness to the outrages and inequities of the world, fuming and writing angry, infantile poetry to vent my spleen.

As I survey the current political terrain of our little world, my mind’s eye frequently conjures visions of small men in caves, whiling away the hours in pursuit of an esoteric inner perfection while the maelstrom rages around them. Our present multitude of predicaments seems an ideal time to dive back into the Buddhists’ way, I must say.

How else to deal with the fact that a hard-faced cadre of right-wing zealots seem to be gaining ground as they try to dismantle all of humanity’s efforts to make a just and peaceful world?

The Republican Party and their insensitive brethren of irate teabaggers have figured out that public sector unions are chief among the impediments to their drive to give the country entirely over to wealthy corporate interests.

Self-styled morality-brokers in Colorado, using fake science and ragged prejudice among the masses, are slowly whittling away at the medical marijuana rights of the populace, approved by the voters in 2000. They clearly are doing the bidding of a medico-pharmaceutical industry that most emphatically does not want people to be in charge of any aspect of their own treatment for various ills. They just want us to keep popping their poisonous pills, with no regard for the beneficial effects of an herb that has been a balm to humanity for millennia.

The rabid Republican right wing is out to defang public broadcasting news organizations, for the simple reason that National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System are not Fox News. As we all know, NPR and PBS newscasts are a far cry from any kind of radical threat to the status quo, but they at least are able to put out relatively unbiased reports about happenings and trends in the U.S. and the rest of the world, while Fox News hews to an unabashedly right-wing line that is both insulting and frightful.

These are but a few of the current affairs that have me tied up in knots, wondering how we can survive the next couple of decades, let alone the coming centuries.

And such thoughts keep me returning, time and time again, to the image of small men in caves, thinking deep thoughts, seemingly without a care in the world.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, indeed.

jcolson@aspentimes.com


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