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The Meaning of "Personal Responsibility" - A Buddhist Response to Mitt Romney

Yesterday, former Governor Mitt Romney was heard on tape at a fundraiser saying that most people who voted for Barack Obama, 47% of the country, are "dependent" and he would "never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Actually, about 53% of the country voted for Obama in 2008, so Romney's comments were really directed to the majority of the public he wishes to serve.

 

 

First off, I'd like to say I have tremendous empathy for Mr. Romney. The path of public speaking is a treacherous one, and I also dread people with strong agendas taking things I say out of context and publicizing them. On the very minor level of public persona in which I operate, things I say are often taken out of context, and it A) sucks and B) makes me try very hard to qualify any statements I make and contextualize them properly. Running for president has to be an awful awful endeavor of foot-in-mouth anxieties, so let's have some compassion for anyone willing to step out on this brutal stage of public life.

At the same time, on reflection, as someone who voted for Obama in 2008 and after careful consideration plans to vote for Obama again, I also feel deeply personally insulted by Romney's statement that I am some kind of freeloader because I don't support his candidacy. Given that I have spent my entire life working, and working hard, in nonprofit and mind/body service, and educational professions, and also given that I clearly pay a higher rate of federal income tax than Romney himself, the comments especially sting. In fact, if I am fully and totally mindful, they bring up an internal "f--- you, you entitled bastard," knee-jerk reaction. But that's just an initial reaction, natural to the human mind, which can easily be labeled as thinking as I bring myself back to the real issues at hand, which are the world-views and views of self-empowerment and independence underlying the comments Romney made. And in that light, this seems the perfect opportunity to begin and discussion of what it means, from a Buddhist perspective, to really take personal responsibility.

The first relevant premise of Buddhism seems quite conservative on its face: the basic premise is that nobody, and we mean nobody, is going to save you from your own mind. Nobody can get into your experience and fix anything for you. If you want to make your own internal experience more hospitable, only you can do the work. Others can always help support and guide you, and everyone needs a supportive environment, but at the end of the day, you are your own boss and your own agent of understanding your mind and opening your heart. No one else can work with your karma for you. Nothing has been more profound for me than taking this teaching to heart, especially when I fall on difficult emotional times.

The second premise of Buddhism seems to totally contradict the first. Everything, and we mean everything, is interdependent. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Guess what: whatever is built, you really didn't build it alone. Co-creation is  just the very way our universe is structured, the way EVERYTHING happens, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and countless others have noted. It is telling that in critiquing Obama, at the Republican National Convention, conservatives had to use the phrase "WE did build that." Note the WE. Nothing ever, ever gets built alone. Not wealth and not poverty. Even conservatives have to cede that point, whether or not it's admitted.

How do we then reconcile the above two premises, which seem to directly contradict each other? Here's what I believe. The second premise, interdependence, provides the proper and appropriate context for understanding the first premise, personal responsibility. In other words, it is when we begin to understand interdependence that we see the true importance of personal responsibility. Once we see that nothing happens in a vacuum, that all beings are really in this together, that's the exact moment that we are properly inspired to become responsible for our own mind. To preach personal responsibility without preaching interdependence seems to isolate our view of life outside of its true context. Thus, the version of personal responsibility that Romney espouses in these comments is one that is isolated, fearful, and lacking in empathy. The version of personal responsibility that come from seeing interdependence is inclusive, courageous, and deeply empathetic.

That's the difference between Romney's version of personal responsibility and a dharmic version of personal responsibility understood in the context of interdependence.

It should be obvious, but all views expressed here are mine and mine alone. Please keep any comments respectful. We are all still learning how to live together on this planet.

(Follow Ethan on Facebook or Twitter, Check out his books, or upcoming online courses he is teaching at IDP)

 

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Comments

Agreed

I accept this as a more responsible citizen. One can make a better impact in the society by performing his responsibilities. http://www.mobilebazaar.pk/qmobile-prices

Heya i’m for the primary time here

I like reading a post that will http://eireporter.com/ make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

Interesting article topic but...

Hi Ethan,

This is a very interest and unique article, I was quite pleased when I found it. Though, I am not so clear, on how interdependence is not a part of Romney's version of personal responsibility. When he says that people should be more independent of government this is not saying that there is no interdependence. He is simply making the point that people should have to RELY less on government and take more responsibility for their own life. Certainly there is still interdependence, maybe less so with the government, but more so with the people that make up this country.

In my opinion the only difference, in terms of interdependence, between a centralized government that distributes wealth and a limited government with free market economic principles is that the former is artificual and the latter more natural.

Also, I do respect how you empathize with Romney on public speaking and having your words misinterpreted. However to infer that Romney does not empathize with the public is quite a big misunderstanding. Just because his views on 'what is best' for the people of this country are not the same as yours does not mean he does not empathize with them. I am sure he does. In fact his comments are even an expression of that. In his view he does not want people to depend on the government but to suceed from their own efforts.

Ok, I will stop there because now it sounds like I am in support of Romney. I am not. I have not decided who I will vote for but it will not be Romney.

I am just on the first comment

Buddhist will alway be "relevant" in this time, in any time, on any subject including politics. And yes they lean left bc no Buddhist will ever think for themselves like republicans do. You can be liberal in mind body and spirit and you can also be liberal in the way you vote. Now maybe I'll read some of the other comments

just fine with first comment

congratulations you thing like everyone else ( Hitler would love you as he said " a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth)...very comfortable like the frog in the water experiment.. temp of water raised every so slightly and gradually.... so the frog's immune system was fooled or bypassed.... result he was burned to death,,, instead of jumping out when it got too warm.  It is sad to see such 1984ish minds that are so programmed the same way... its all good.... but you guys are so intoxicated with new age verbiage your immune system is also not working..... and I wouldnt care so much but your irresponsibility and blindness is going to take US all down,,, it's not like you are smiking or eating junk foods or not fastening your seatbelt.. things like that you will reap what you sow but there are relatively few waves affecting others..... but NOW we are on the brink of global suicidal... oh boy bet you will let that go as a scare tactic... but what can I say??..you are gonna take us all down with this mentality that " all is good". I have yet to see one person even criticize or even critique Obama, Hell I spend a good deal of day critiquing myself so what.s the problem??. I  fear one day I am gonna wake up see that there is no fantasy baseball anymore but fantasy buddhism....to see if you can win your league...world champion budhha.   Gurdjieff said a long time ago that if the peace movement of his era were in charge of world peace the peaceniks would first start killing each as to whose "peace" plane would be implemented.

Freedom without responsibility is licentiousness... we have a licentious world,,, meditate over how you are adding to this epidemic........this world can be a buddhafield but we have a long way to go and its get longer by the minute

Buddhism is nonviolence, not pacifism

I believe that you missed the entire point of what was being conveyed, Ghandi also believed in nonviolence but was known to have said that had Hitler attacked India directly then violence would be necessary. But that's OK persist in your beliefs as you stated there is a lot of time, in this life or the next.

romney/obama

amazing how "spiritual" people are leftists,,,,,the buddha I know is the one who took the middle road... and surely didnt care about politics ... If you guys really want to be politicians/political,,,, I would appreciate you wouldnt drag down Buddha by association,,,,,,.... heck we have christians desecrating Christ, Muslims denigrating the message of Mohammed,,,,, now we have buddhists who want to be relevant in this age.....relevant fools who would kill others (even by thought) even though they are "non-violent"
If we could make spirituality alive there would be no politics,, lets put things in proper order,,,,life isnt so difficult.. we have just made it that way.
P.S. when I walk I use both the left and right legs.... I dont get identified with one or the other....buddhism in Asia was fine but now it has been so corrupted by its importation over to the west,,,,, it is now a big money making machine....wake up and find the buddha within while thre is still a chance

Inequality : We built that.

http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/david-korten/growth-or-equality-two-com...

Great post Ethan.

The link I posted is a little more fuel for the fire of how the diff wealth classes have or have not benefitted from the policies of the last 20+ years on both sides of the aisle.

RE: interdependence - when some form of revolution comes...soft, hard, whatever...the Romney's of the world will certainly find out how dependent they are on all those folks they think are free-loaders...nevermind how many Red-Staters are on Medicaid or how many subsidies flow to BigAg, BigOil, etc.

Ho hum.

Same samsara, different day :)

-- Dan

http://myselfthemuse.wordpress.com

Excellent essay.

Just echoing others here in feeling you've done a very nice job of describing the two initially contradictory-looking aspects of responsibility. Very nice job! I only wish I were able to access a bit more compassion for Romney. It's a good exercise, and I'm afraid so far I'm flunking that one. I'm going to try to remember what Heinlein said so long ago: "Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes." Thanks!

Insightful

I am glad I caught this blog post. It reminds me to be compassionate to Romney, which is really hard in this political climate, because everyone is demonizing each other. I actually do feel bad for him, since I could see how it would be hard to say something that sounds a bit dumb and have it be mocked by everyone. I feel like it's also very sad that he doesn't seem to understand how difficult it can be for others to try to make it financially in the world.... it's really not the right approach and must make it really frustrating for him.

I was also thinking that it's very safe to demonize people that are in positions of power, because it almost seems as if they aren't connected to us, that they come from a different world. But if I kind of think again, think of them actually being human and having to make decisions, it does seem tough. They have a lot of responsibility and power, and at the end of the day, it really is just their job---- as a person that is still finding my way in my job path, I can sympathize in trying to do a good job, but not necessarily doing one. :) If I think of it that way, it makes it that much easier to be compassionate. Just because he's a politician doesn't make him any more special, he still has to go through his life path, he still is ignorant like all of us.

Fiscal Response Ability

All fine and good but what I understood from Mittigating Romboid was comments chiefly and foremost regarding money. There was not, seemingly, any intention to refer to anything other than that when he mentioned personal responsibility. What he is really saying here is that what's mine is mine and what's yours is also mine because you don't take responsibility for maintaining what might be yours if you weren't such a duffis. He is attempting to convince people who made lots of mullah ($50,000/a plate) that their money is being used to foster the existence of people who aren't fending for themselves. We might be interdependent in the broader sense but not in Romney's world version.

Thus, you might be enlightened but you could also be broke. Also, we are interdependent whether we recognize it or not. But giving and getting money has been chugged into an entirely different non-philosophical category.

Therefore, the price for Buddhist teachings has gone up and up along with everything else. The teachings exist within the economic sphere.

It would be most interesting to know what generosity actually means to Romney. As I understand it, the tenets of Mormonism require that its followers contribute heartily to the church and it is an important part of their practice to make money. I wonder how they treat those having less than stellar financial acumen.

The Mormon Church requires

The Mormon Church requires (strongly suggests, more like) that you contribute 10% of your income to the church. Unless this has changed since I grew up with a whole lot of Mormons in my hometown (I am Vajrayana Buddhist, myself). I am most certainly no Mitt fan. But I will tell you this, as it manifest in my hometown community, the Mormon value of earning money was not materialist as many tend to view it. It was community oriented, taught hard work and self reliance. None of the Mormons I knew cared if that 10% came out of a small salary or a large salary. Of course, if you start working your way up into higher ranks of Mormon burocracy, then you better be contributing your fair share (or more) and conducting yourself in other ways that show that you are worthy of the community's respect. But, that is no different in Shambhala, according to Shamhala's particular values. Or any other lineage of Buddhism.

Responsibility

I wasn't personally insulted by Mitt's remarks. They weren't out-of-context. What they show is his character and how he feels towards people. Hopefully, people will see this and not vote for someone who shows so little compassion for his fellow Americans, particularly the poor, elderly, sick, disabled, and unemployed.

I think the interesting question to ask oneself is "Where does my responsibility end?"
Seems like Mitt feels his responsibility ends with wealthy people like him.

Excellent article

From the view point of a young practicioner, you have done an excellent job of taking something clearly intended to elicit negative diatribes and transformed it into an opportunity to teach. Reading the comments that have been posted, there are many that agree, some that disagree, and others that just don't seem to understand the importance of interdependance in practice and the world we live and how they influence each other.

Personal Resposibility

Personal Responsibility is taking responsibility for your actions, accepting the consequences that come from those actions and understanding that what you do impacts those around you.

I have heard that Mitt Romney has helped many people in his life in the background not showing to all the world to see. Doesn't ones behavior portray more than words? Isn't giving of oneself without recognition a selfless path?

According to the definition of personal responsibility above the primary ingredient requires some introspection. Helping people does not mean enabling them to continue in behavior that is not helping them or society, in fact it is very detrimental to all involved. "You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness.” Eckhart Tolle

There seems to be many who just want to believe the rhetoric, feel offended, and look no further. I have listened to all the rants against conservatives many of which are unfounded. “Anything that you resent and strongly react to in another is also in you.” Eckhart Tolle

People make up government and corporations, and until we as individuals change ourselves there will be no change in a larger scale in the world. " If the structures of the human mind remain unchanged, we will always end up re-creating the same world, the same evils, the same dysfunction.” Eckhart Tolle

Helped people?

If you look into Romney's role as a businessman, his job basically was to convince struggling and failing companies that his business would help them out, by helping them take out a huge loan and restructuring. That huge loan would break the backs of the business while Romney and his ilk lined their pockets, and moved on to their next flopping business victim. It's like a mini version of what the IMF, World Bank and the greater "Imperial West" do to countries all around the world: promise them great growth and infrastructure via huge loans, which really just end up funneling that loaned money back into huge multinational engineering firms, leaving the few rich, controlling families/businesses of the country RICHER, but leaving the poor even poorer and in the dust, rubble and pollution of bulldozers and dammed rivers. Romney's whole line as some sort of empathetic helper is a total lie. Do the research.

All good points

Thank you!

Universal Responsibility

When I read Romney's comments, this passage about universal responsibility from The Dalai Lama came to mind: "To develop a sense of universal responsibility--of the universal dimension of our every act and of the equal right of all others to happiness and not to suffer--is to develop an attitude of mind whereby, when we see an opportunity to benefit others, we will take it in preference to merely looking after our own narrow interests."
-The Dalai Lama, "Ethics for the New Millennium"

NellaLou

The comments by candidate Romney were not taken out of context. They expressed the context, a $50,000 per plate dinner, exactly.

However your point is well taken. There is an ever increasing horizon of context if one will both lift up their head from their own endeavors and allow themselves to perceive it.

The subject isn't me.

Sorry. Thought I was logged in. Used to seeing the name first.

Just askin'

"I also feel deeply personally insulted by Romney's statement that I am some kind of freeloader because I don't support his candidacy . . . "

Huh?

Buddhist? Personally insulted?

How does that work?

Don't understand the question

Is the question: "how can Buddhist people feel personally insulted?" The answer to that is Buddhist people are people. So all people at times feel personally insulted.

Just sayin'. :)

just sayin' redux

 

Your answer implies an acceptance . . . personal insult is the source of anger, which we as Buddhist practitioners try to recognize and apply antidotes to temper and release.  It (personal insult) is based on that sense of self which we are working to identify, understand and disarm.  

I do not agree that all people at times feel personally insulted, and certainly not deeply.

To feel "deeply personally insulted" (especially at remarks not directed personally at you) spotlights where work is required.

    All the violence, fear and suffering that exists in this world comes from grasping at "self".
    What use is this great monster to you?
    if you do not let go of the "self", there will never be an end to your suffering.

    -- Shantideva

(he was "just sayin' also")  :-)

Empathy is not always empathetic

Regarding your comments on empathy in paragraph two - I quite honestly and vehemently disagree, and feel that this is a place where we, as Buddhists, get tied up in being "too Buddhist". Truthfully, if you are running for a leadership position of any kind - and for the President of the United States *especially* - THAT is your path. You simply must be willing to take all of that on, and understand that at the start, and take full responsibility for everything that you say and do, and understand that of course it will be taken out of context. Doing that with strength, courage, humor, and lots of other things is what makes a truly great leader. So no, I think your call for empathy is misplaced. Holding him responsible feels much more empathetic to me.

Cheers.

NIce..but...

Once you claim personal responsibility, slow down the clock, and SEE the undercurrent of life... accountability to the whole or interdependence is a natural occurring effect... The work to be there, is an undoing of learned effects from a distant cause....Nice essay Ethan

this.

thank you, so beautifully said.

Awesome, Ethan. Really!

Awesome, Ethan. Really!

interdependence

consumptive taxes are fixed and not dependent on the taxpayer's income - such as sales tax, toll road fees, user fees, travel fees, and licensing fees. that is income for the government. low and middle income wage earners cannot take advantage of most tax loopholes. suggesting that those who legally owe no *income tax* (but still subject to consumptive, payroll, and property taxes) are unpatriotic and not responsible, and those with high incomes who are able to take advantage of many tax loopholes and pay virtually no tax are patriotic and responsible - is just a tired and despicable argument. seriously - who is taking care of whom?

there are just too many of us to not work together - because whether we like it or not - it is all interdependent. if one of us gets sick, it affects all of us. likewise when people get educated, or lose their jobs, when they buy a home, or lose a home ... that affects all of us. people don't want to fall behind, but this is a real world, most of us were not born with wealth, and so it happens. and even so, we continue to pay taxes, and we work very hard to climb back up the ladder. that sounds like personal responsibility to me.

'Consumptive' taxes....etc....

Thank you for pointing this out. Most people are being much more 'personally responsible' than they get credit for. In today's world, too many people (especially the rich) think that those who don't pay income tax are 'freeloaders'. Romney's 47% remark, as disgusting as it is, is only a reflection of what many people think today, especially the Tea Party-influenced conservatives. Thank you for reminding people that Everyone pays taxes, in one way or another......even those too poor to qualify for income tax. Income tax is NOT the ONLY way people pay taxes!

You mentioned sales tax.....that's a huge one. Anyone who lives in a state that has sales tax, pays taxes on just about EVERYTHING they buy, whether it's on big ticket items, or small merchandise.  We all need food, and most states tax food, in one way or other. And of course, those myriad of fees that are tacked onto just about everything these days. There are many more taxes that people pay....probably too many to list here. As you aptly pointed out, these types of 'consumptive' taxes are not dependent upon the individual income of those who have to pay them. But one I would like to mention is Property Taxes. Property owners are not the only ones to pay this tax. Renters also pay it.....(although, not directly, of course).....since a portion of their rent money goes to pay the property taxes on the property they are renting.....they too pay property taxes......but they don't get credit for it. It's too easy to forget the 2nd & 3rd hand taxes that people pay, through other means.

The only people who truly pay no taxes are the homeless. They usually don't qualify for gov't assistance or help programs unless they have an address of some kind, so they are usually not the ones 'taking' anything from the system. Your tax dollars are not supporting these people......no one is.....they are not being supported in any way! And that's a shame! Because they need it most!

There is nothing shameful about being poor, nothing irresponsible about being stuck in poverty....at least not on the part of the poor..... The ones who should be ashamed about this are the greedy ones who take more & more of the wealth, and point fingers of blame at the poor, instead of helping them!

It's far too easy for rich folks, who do not see the interconnectedness of all things, and all people.... to think they're entitled to hoard their money, and don't have a responsibility to society as a whole....including the poor....and to just blame those who have less, and smugly continue on with their greedy ways. That pretty much sums up how the GOP/Tea Party conservatives feel, and why their party platform is so skewed towards the rich.

I'm sorry if I sound angry, instead of compassionate....towards the rich.....but what they are doing.....blaming the poor & low income people for our economic woes, and trying to convince people to that voting for austerity measures is the best way to go for our country.....is Just Plain Wrong!!

I cannot just sit idly by, maintaining peace & compassion, and do nothing, while there are those with Big Money, and lots of power, trying to KILL poor people....through starvation, lack of housing/shelter, lack of heat, lack of healthcare/medicine, lack of resources, etc, due to the lack of caring & compassion from those who have the means to help! Those of us who understand this....need to stand up & be vocal about it! DO something to help....don't just sit there, and talk about having compassion..... Become an agent of change!!!

thank you for continuing to acknowledge interdepence

Well said...I have passed it on!

thank you for continuing to acknowledge interdepence

Well said...I have passed it on!

thank you for continuing to acknowledge interdepence

Well said...I have passed it on!

Thank you!

I really enjoyed hearing your feedback on Romney's comments. Its certainly not the first time that he has said some pretty short sided statements. Due to the fact that he has chosen such a high profile position, he should be much more careful with what he says.

You did an exception job at explaining exactly why many of us have chosen the Buddhist path.
Much appreciation!

Another view

First of all - thanks Ethan for a thoughtful and respectful piece that invites discussion - rare these days.
I believe interdependence is "preached" in a similar way by Christians. The call to repentance (akin to personal responsibility) is a personal call but the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself - this assumes our interdependence and responsibility for one another. Still, this doesn't mean that government is the natural or best way to acheive interdependence and provide for all of society's needs. This is where conservatives part company with liberals. The family and social/religious/interest/neighbood groups can provide this support in terms of real service and also - most critically - teaching values and skills. Romney's 47% comment may not be "nuanced" but it points out the truth that doing for others what they can do for themselves creates an unhealthy dependency - and more neediness - not less.

the job of someone else.

Dear Anonymous, I have heard your sentiment echoed by many Christians. I find it ironic that when we are discussing interdependence that they and you think of 'the government' as some different entity. We ARE the government. We elect those officials. We build the roads. We take care of others. There are plenty of NGOs and churches out there who are doing the job, too. I believe it should be both. I know there is somewhere in the Bible that basically says, "Woe unto the nation that does not care for it's poor."

I don't think anyone wants to give folks a free ride. I just think Mr. Romney has no clue how much of that percentage of non-taxpaying fits into the 'free ride' category. I would be curious about that. I suspect it's a small percent. I also believe there are conditions in welfare policies to prevent that.

In the Buddhist view, and in particular the Shambhala view, every human being is basically good, and I choose to believe that, and not the notion that 47% of our country is full of free-loaders who don't want to take care of themselves. We will never create an awakened society with a me vs. them view.

No, Mr. Romney's speech was not nuanced at all. It was highly insulting, in my opinion. But it did give the rest of us a chance to hear the whole thing, completely in context. I hope the rest of the 47% were listening.

Of course we "are the

Of course we "are the government" as in the government  which "derives it's just powers from the consent of the governed."  But "the government" is not a benign all knowing all caring entity that some want to think it is.  It is not a community, it is not a family, it is only a vehicle to protect our safety and freedoms.  It isn't there to solve all our problems.  I believe Romney sees interdependence as the most important part of personal responsibility.  He sees each of us as problems solvers and helpers instead of seeing the government as the answer to problems.  He sees that we each have responsibility for ourselves AND each other.  We are our brother's keeper - and our brother is our keeper.  Interdependence means we all contribute and are worthy.  "The government" should not be our keeper - and to the extent that it is then our collective freedom is being limited.

Concerning the 47% statement  - he was merely noting the truth that nearly half of the households in the country pay no income tax.  Of course, I agree with you that there is a group that needs support in the this way and no one begrudges that.  But the sad truth is that when that many people have no financial or working responsibility for their own government those people can become not only dependent but irresponsible regarding decisions about what "the government" should pay for. If you're not paying for it - and you directly benefit - who cares how much it costs, or how necessary and effective a program is.  This is a recipe for irresponsibility, greed and corruption - dependence on the government is a way of buying votes.

not always so

income tax is a tax on income only. if you make too little, if you're disabled or elderly, if you're a soldier or a college student, you may be exempt from paying income tax for that year. you're NOT, however, exempt from paying sales tax, property tax, vehicle tax, license fees, payroll tax, tolls to use roads and bridges, etc., etc.

not paying income tax in a given year does not relieve one of personal responsibility. it merely excludes one from paying (some) taxes *on income.* repeating ... ALL other taxes still apply - including payroll tax.

this is neither "dependence on the government," nor "a recipe for irresponsibility, greed and corruption." can the same be said for tax loopholes that are available only to the wealthy?

Great points to both

Great points to both "Anonymous'" here.    

I have to agree with Anonymous #2, that the "other-izing" of the government is a big road-block to arriving at what I believe could be a more harmonious governing system in our country.   The government could be more than just collecting taxes and protecting our borders, but in the spirit of democracy somewhat represent the "will of the people" for various forms of social support (especially those who don't follow traditional family / community ways of living but are just as valuable to the whole)

Why I sympathize with Anonymous #1's viewpoint is that our government is often put in the place of NOT supporting the "will of the people", but rather the will of corporations and lobbyists (whose only organizational responsibilities are winning and earning more).  

How will we affect change of this corrupt system?   It's up to each one of us to take on the personal responsibility of collectively organizing in the most skillful way we see fit to overcome corporate influence in our political system.

After that, it may very well be much easier to view our government as an extension of our individual will, as opposed to an impediment of it.

 

Wow

"In other words, it is when we begin to understand interdependence that we see the true importance of personal responsibility."

I'm gonna quote you on that.
Dan Garner
ZenPresence.com

Yes

I'm about to tweet some of these words out of context, but am confident their wisdom will still come across. Thank you for this lucid analysis, Ethan.

I'm voting for Romney because

I'm voting for Romney because I want things to get so bad that people develop a sense of renunciation.

Hahahhaa

Always difficult to be humorous on a Buddhist blog, isn't it?

Faulty premise

Renunciation must be a choice; it cannot be imposed from without. Creating a situation in which external reality becomes intolerable only plunges people into despair and causes them to cling to the flimsiest illusory thread of hope. Your statement makes the same mistake as that which was made by some people I knew when I was young, who believed that voting for the greater of two evils would help to bring the system down faster and make way for the dawn of the anarchist paradise.

Are you serious? People

Are you serious? People developing a sense of renunciation can only happen when they relate to their own mind honestly, not when outer circumstances are poisoned and sabotaged.

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