Discussing integral levels of thought will undoubtedly ruffle some feathers, about 99% of the world’s feathers if Ken Wilber is any judge. That’s about the percentage of hate mail Obama received after his breakfast prayer last week. Luckily my discussion on the subject will only anger most of my 11 fans, because my fans go to 11. So do the math. No really, it’s a fraction. Anyway, Obama’s event with the Dalai Lama impressed me greatly—I mean, eggs Florentine?! Yum!
Obama’s a gutsy guy, just not in the traditional Republican sense of the word, aka breaking wars and economies over one’s knee in the name of freedom! But where has this guy been hiding? Even though most will miss his main points, I commend his efforts. We should begin to speak to what’s best in all of us, not remain transfixed on those worst aspects of the human condition. Those with a clue deserve a little prime time as well. With religious fundamentalism still tearing our world apart, I loved Obama’s whole shebang.
Note to self: when trying to spell check shebang do not, under any circumstance, use the Google to accomplish this task.
Obama wasn’t throwing any one religion under the bus; he was compelling us to dump the shittier parts of all religions. Religion has a lot of baggage, present and past. Of course, Fox News “slammed” the president’s related comments and then “slammed” our strengthening economy and then “slammed” our falling unemployment rate and then “slammed” our staggeringly high stock market. Shock poll: no one shocked by this. Obama will be criticized for every sentence regardless of its meaning, which brings with it a certain freedom. Post this important speech, Charles Krauthammer honed in on this quote:
“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”
He was “shocked” and “stunned” that Obama would speak the truth, out loud, in front of other people. This is not the Republican way (see: U.S. history). I believe Krauthammer is about the smartest conservative out there and, boy, is he out there. Wow. Their brightest bulbs still can’t illuminate a phone booth. Of course Obama went on to list some of the abuses throughout history of some other key religions as well, annoying each country in question along the way. Good. This was Obama’s answer to that first quote, the part Krauthammer left out:
“So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities—the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?”
Every one of Obama’s words rang true, but taken out of context you can and will offend. For example take my recent quote: “bite me, you gravy sucking whore.” When placed back into the correct context of my article it’s an entirely different beast:
“I would never say to the Dalai Lama, bite me, you gravy sucking whore, unless he continues to ignore my emails.”
See? Oh, and then there’s this bit:
“But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge—or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon. From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith, their faith, professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it.”
On Bill Maher last week Howard Dean exposed Obama’s playbook. They were returning to the Affleck/Harris argument, whether or not to call ISIS Islamic terrorists. Dean basically confirmed my suspicion that this President adamantly refuses to increase terrorist recruitment, through word or deed. He will therefore not conflate ISIS with Islam in any way. Does he think they’re related? Well, duh, but because he realizes they kill in the name of Islam many are calling Obama’s language-failure a lie. More accurately, it’s just a smart strategy.
For a brief review: Ben Affleck stands for the liberal appeasers among us who can’t even read a poll about radical Islamic beliefs without playing the racist card (wrong), while our Foxeteer friends forever attack and blame the entirety of Islam (wrong). As usual Obama is threading the needle. He understands how the future lies within moderate Muslim countries and their people. Conflating this as a war with greater Islam is an automatic recruitment tool. Is he shying away from blowing the shit out of stuff? Hardly. He just wants to balance his actions by not creating more of the problem. This is no easy task as Republicans have shown us all too well.
Obama would like to share the burden of tackling these radical groups with regional forces. At least to some degree this is starting to happen. Moderate Islam represents a key part of reigning in the radicals, otherwise this war is already lost. I think more and more Muslims will evolve, but the question remains: will it happen fast enough? Meanwhile my position hasn’t changed, I agree with air strikes and Special Forces to quell these radicals, but boots on the ground need not be American. Land wars have not been effective in this endeavor, remember? Of course not.
Back to breakfast:
Hell, I could repost this entire speech, but here’s the link. Wow! This is one of the speeches history will talk about. Your first clue? No one agrees with me. It’s ahead of its time and Republicans are so far behind the times, it would take a quantum leap forward to get them up to The Flintstones.
Paul Waldman differs:
“I’d certainly prefer it if Obama never went to another one of these. He could say that though presidents have gone in the past, the event has become highly sectarian, and since he’s the president of all Americans, he’d prefer to hold his own inter-faith breakfast at the White House, one geared more toward understanding and less toward proclamations of the one true faith.”
Come on, live a little, Paul. Who cares what fundamentalists think? After his diatribe on the ills of religion, Obama doesn’t abandon spirituality but rather encourages us to embrace those best parts inherent in spirituality. To borrow a page from Wilber, he wants to transcend and include what works and ditch the rest:
“Whatever our beliefs, whatever our traditions, we must seek to be instruments of peace, and bringing light where there is darkness, and sowing love where there is hatred.”
“Each of us has a role in fulfilling our common, greater purpose—not merely to seek high position, but to plumb greater depths so that we may find the strength to love more fully. And this is perhaps our greatest challenge—to see our own reflection in each other; to be our brother’s keepers and sister’s keepers, and to keep faith with one another.”
Who better to have been sitting at this table during this speech than his Holiness the Dalai Lama? People need not defend every morsel of their sacred texts—to the death. Hopefully more people across the globe will move beyond fundamentalism in all of its forms. Face it, all religions contain some shittier, more contradictory parts. Even if you believe your own sacred text is directly from the Hand of God, you must admit the hand of man is evident throughout these puppies, or:
“I’ve done everything the Bible says! Even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff!”
Let’s defend those aspects and those tenants worth defending. Let’s stick with Jesus’ kindness and lose Jehovah’s smiting, strive for the Kalimahs of Sufism and drop Sharia, a little more enlightenment and a little less crusades, a little more Menachem Begin and a little less Netanyahoos, and what do I have to say about those Voodoo Vikings that you don’t already know? Let’s a build a future that is brighter for everyone, not just for one sect, country or cult, but for all of mankind.
“The old appeals to racial, sexual and religious chauvinism, to rabid nationalist fervor, are beginning not to work. A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism, and recognizes that an organism at war with itself, is doomed. We are one planet.”