Monday, August 01, 2005

The Hornets' Nest

Well, Bush, it's my birthday. Without being too coy about it, let's just say I'm beginning a new decade--starting with the 9, of course, not with the zero: I had already lived a year when I was one year old, so I calculate that way. And while I can't help but notice certain changes in my body, it's amazing how young I continue to feel in heart and spirit. I think I've gained an ounce or two of wisdom, too, along with the inevitable body bulge--though I realize we might be in disagreement on this point. I do see things from a broader perspective than I used to, and I find myself more forgiving of myself and others, more tolerant of opinions and attitudes other than my own.

I guess you'd be the prime beneficiary of that, Bush. Some readers of these journals complain that I'm too kind to you. They want more Bush-bashing. As recently as yesterday--if you read the comments, Bush--a reader wrote to let me know that it was okay to be angry. And you should have heard Bill Maher last night, in a performance broadcast from Portland, Oregon! Talk about pitiless! It's not that I disagree with those who are angry at you, Bush. It's just that I know my own voice these days. I've learned a lot of things from ten years of meditation practice, and one of them is to have compassion for my enemies. The Christian religion teaches much the same, Bush, as I recall: wasn't it Jesus Himself who said we should love our enemies? If there's one thing I could wish for you on my birthday, it would be that you learn to heed this most basic of Christian lessons.

Anyway, listen, if you want to scare your own pants off, Bush, there are two pieces in the "Week in Review" section of Sunday's New York Times that will do it for you. The first, "Iraq Dances With Iran, While America Seethes," describes the increasingly cozy relationship between Shiite leaders in these two countries, and "the shadow of theocracy " that is threatening the constitutional process in Iraq. Your Rumsfeld's surprise visit there earlier in the week, it seems, was calculated to deliver "a blunt message" to Iraqi leaders, to be "more aggressive in opposing the 'harmful' meddling of Iran."

Good luck with that, I say. The second piece, "Switched Off in Basra," describes how "Basra politics (and everyday life) is increasingly coming under the control of religious groups, from the relatively mainstream Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq to the bellicose followers of the rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr." It seems that a majority of the police in Basra are now aligned with religious parties, and their loyalties are more with the latter than with the secular government. Meanwhile, the British occupation forces there take a hands-off approach, leaving in serious doubt the security of the Sunni minority--and the possibility of anything approaching the kind of secular democracy you had so naively envisioned. Watch out for the erosion of womens' rights, minority rights, and the enshrinement of sharia law. And don't hold your breath, waiting to be thanked for your "liberation."

You have to be aware by now that the big stick you thought you could carry with impunity in the (oil-rich!) Middle East has done nothing but stir up an angry hornets' nest. And it looks to be too late--and you, Bush, look to be too stubborn--to get us out of there before we all get seriously stung.

1 comment:

dennis said...

Peter: There is the ancient Chinese wisdom, that knowing how to pardon is great. But there is a distinction, don't you think, between Buddist ideas about conflict and Taoist ideas. My leanings are with the Taoists. To pardon, it is taught, sets up a powerful respect, and therefore is useful. and creative. But, there is also a natural time for fighting and anger. Knowing when, how, and to remain free of blame is key, however.
Also, anger is an important part of being human and suppressing it may even be harmful. We don't really know.
Hate is another matter. To hate, is to tie oneself to the hated object. That we do not want to do.
I think Bill Maher would have pity for any man who could see his own mistakes. But some incorrigible people entangled in their own folly should not be pitied, openly, for it is the best teaching that they learn the hard way. In that regard, our brother, Bill, is a sage.
I just saw the terrific film, "Downfall", newly out on DVD, about Hitler. One could perhaps pity this delusional character, But, just as there is much in the Bible that is unswallowable, I couldn't love him. The question for me is always, how many lives has his deliberate actions ruined or destroyed. At over 1700 GI lives and counting, and countless others, I am meditating more on the very eastern ideas of punishment.
Your brother in discussion, dennis.