I was in Eau Claire, WI, last night, where I spoke with the Sangha about the Middle Way. Some current issues were raised – the Copenhagen non-action, health care non-reform, and Afghanistan escalation – and the question was asked, “How do we practice the Middle Way in response to this?”
At the time, with jetlag as a weak excuse, I did not give a satisfying response and so have been thinking it over since. Here, I offer some responses to the health care pseudo-reform. These suggestions cannot be authoritative or definitive; rather, they are one person’s thoughts on a middle way approach to a troubling nexus of concerns. Similar perspectives will apply to other confounding issues facing us.
- Relax identification with one party or another (neither party is sincerely looking out for the interests of humanity), bipartisanship, or even an ideology of “no party.” Identifying with one side or another is dukkha.
- Relax positions & expectations, and even hopes, regarding how “reform” should (have) turn(ed) out. (Don’t assume I am suggesting one, therefore, have no ideas or understanding about the possibilities.)
- Recognize own fears, insecurities, privileges, & anger.
- See Congress, lobbyists, insurance & other finance corporations, big pharma, and mainstream media as processes rather than entities, as evolving & devolving structures constructed out of many factors and conditions, including gross greed, fear, anger, and delusion.
- Further, see these processes as not-separate from the “American people,” society, the world, “me,” and “my family.”
- Inquire into your own relationships & involvements with healthcare. How is it beneficial? How is it harmful? Please do not focus narrowly on how you benefit & lose. Inquiring within groups willing to face these issues mindfully is often more helpful than thinking it out on ones own.
- Find ways to shift resources & practices to spheres of personal responsibility & local taking care of each other. Waiting for the elites & power brokers to sort things out for us is practically a form of superstition.
- If one wants to have national & state decision making freed from the financial bribery power of insurance companies, big pharma, & the like, put some energy & resources into campaign finance reform & local organizing. If anyone decides s/he doesn’t see enough importance in such steps, necessary for working out other issues, well, then be honest about it & stop complaining.
I’ve tried to keep my own personal opinions out of this, but have not fully succeeded. For that I do not apologize. I simply ask you to take responsibility for your own. From that basis we can also take collective responsibility.