There Is No Other

In my last post, I wrote about the problem with rampant consumption. Particularly, how all we appear to know is how to feed the “Machine.”

It’s tempting to describe the Machine as familiar objects of scorn: big corporations, white men, society, the Illuminati, etc… but when you do that, you’re easily laughed off by the mainstream.

It’s become the ultimate cliche… “evil corporations” hell bent on making as much money as possible, staffed by fat-cat rich folk, always eager to trod on the lower classes.

That’s too simplistic, people say. Society is much more complex than that.

And it’s true: there are many reasons we (humanity) find ourselves in this predicament. Rampant war, dwindling resources, and climate change.

But when you ask where terrorists come from, they’ll give you a simple answer. “They’re extremist radicals, hell-bent on ending the Western way of life. They hate our freedom!”

How is it that one simple answer is more acceptable then the other?

In the wake of the Moscow bombings, President Dmitry Medvedev urged “harsher measures” to crack down on terrorism.

And yet, the bombing itself appears at least partially motivated by the killing of innocent civilians by government forces a few weeks earlier.

Then, four garlic pickers died along with 18 suspected Islamic militants in a three-day shootout in the mountainous forests that straddle two other North Caucasus provinces, Ingushetia and Chechnya.

The Memorial rights group on Saturday said the four were villagers caught in the crossfire and then dragged away and executed while gathering the wild shoots to sell at local markets.

“That shooting was just lunacy,” said Alexander Cherkasov, a Memorial spokesman. “And that lunacy was used to justify terrorism.”

Seems like a complex issue, and yet… also very simple: violence always creates more violence.

But why do we continue to get this simple equation wrong again and again? Bhikkhu Bodhi, an American Buddhist, identifies the problem lies with our understanding of peace.

“We think that peace means the absence of conflict; thus we try to gain peace by subduing our opponents and by bullying our environment to serve our desires, unaware that this process is ultimately self-destructive.”

I believe it’s also what Haruki Murakami meant when he said he’s “always on the side of the egg.”

No matter the side you identify with: the Right or the Left, the activists or the corporations, the fringe or the mainstream; it’s no longer about creating an enemy. Having an “other” different from you is a symptom of dualistic thinking that has created untold misery for millions.

As Ralph Waldo Trine writes in “In Tune With The Infinite“:

“The truly wise man or woman will recognize no one as an enemy.”


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