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I haven’t been very well lately and took time off from writing and teaching. But last night — on the anniversary of 9/11 and as part of Unity Worldwide’s World Day of Prayer — I started my fall teaching season with a one-night Dharma Talk at the Unity Church’s Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City. It was a keynote speech to kick off their city’s Buddhist Awareness Week. The mayor and a retired congresswoman were there, and came to meet me afterwards during the book signing.
This made me thing about having a series of local events or even a national event under the name”Buddhist Peace Awareness Week.” We would get together in numerous locations, stand up and have our peaceful voices heard by Sitting Down for Peace in our Time. We would represent reconciliation, nonviolence and the co-creation of a saner and safer future for our children, the environment, and future generations.
We face critical times in our country. Inflammatory words and slogans promising instant relief without sacrifice and hard work are not going to do it. Character attacks and slurs are not going to do it. Let’s honor our core values from the earliest days of our country, “Don’t tread on me,”recognizing the value of the individual and continuing with the beliefs that everyone has to pull their weight and do their share, including the taxes that pay for the common good. Help your neighbor when you can. All those barns from Maine to Texas were raised by helping each other and live and let live. If we don’t pull together, we’ll be pulled apart.
I believe that universal health care is far more important than the anachronistic right to bear arms in order to protect our homes and our families in today’s postmodern world. We Americans simply no longer live in frontier cabins surrounded by wild animals and tribesmen. The Founders of our country believed people should be free to worship and believe any way they like and I agree. I often wonder: who among us today can think for themselves, reflect carefully upon things, and not be overly influenced by mere buzzwords and button-pushing sound bites? And where is this significant civilizing skill, so necessary for any democracy to function effectively, even being taught?