Thread: Politics – do you engage, disengage, or find a middle way?

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    Politics – do you engage, disengage, or find a middle way?

    Hi all :) I know this forum isn't the place for a political discussion and it certainly isn't my intention to start one with this post. I was just interested in how people are dealing with the current situation in the UK and also in the US (or, the world generally...)

    Prior to June 2016, I was quite disengaged from politics, finding it distasteful, complicated, boring, uninspiring... Of course, living in a democracy, I believe we have an obligation to vote. I always voted Labour, often holding my nose... (I would have preferred to vote Green.)

    After the EU referendum in the UK, I was in shock. My feelings and thoughts were all over the place. I felt I had to become more active – stand up and be counted, as it were. So, I've been signing more petitions than you could shake a stick at; attending demonstrations; donating money; writing to my MP; following activists/resisters on Twitter etc etc.

    All of this (while feeling that I was doing the right thing) has unfortunately increased my feelings of confusion, anger, hatred, fear, despair which in turn led to my self-medicating and/or swearing a lot! And I dread opening my email thread, to have to deal with the overwhelming requests to sign more petitions. I didn't give up on Buddhism but, let's say, I got pretty rusty! I've now got to the point where I'm more-or-less avoiding the media etc and instead have re-focussed on Buddhism. (So happy to be back on this forum )

    So, I was wondering how others have been dealing with the UK/US, er, "situation" (stronger words come to mind) over the past couple of years. If this topic has been dealt with elsewhere, please could someone point me in the right direction?

    If this post is totally inappropriate, Aloka, please feel free to delete it. Thanks.

    [More info: I know that I have certain tendencies: anxiety, panic, over-reacting, going from one extreme to the other, so that has probably caused much of the above ]

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Khanti
    So, I was wondering how others have been dealing with the UK/US, er, "situation" (stronger words come to mind) over the past couple of years.
    Hi Khanti,

    Its so good to see you posting again!

    Hang on in there, friend! The only way that I'm able to deal with it myself is by shutting it off mentally, because it all gets quite mind boggling. Meanwhile our daily lives go on regardless....

    Doing some meditation and also repeating the four immeasurables x3 can be helpful:

    May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness,
    May they all be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
    May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
    May they abide in great impartiality,
    free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.


    With metta,

    Aloka

  3. #3
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    Hi, Khanti.

    I understand, or at least can sympathize with those, who have difficulty dealing with political situations in their country.

    Frankly, I am conflicted. Therefore, I have taken the path of listening, but no responding. Mostly I listen to my wife comment on what she reads and hears about our President. I do not respond, however, because no matter what I say in response is unacceptable unless it is critical of each and every one of his actions. About half of our country is in that state of mind, and I do not look forward to our 2020 political campaigns and elections, because it literally never ends, even when the votes are finally tabulated. They just never give up with their crying and whining.

    My mother told us as children never to discuss religion or politics, because it always leads to ill feelings. " guess that's why I chose a "practice" rather than a religion.

    Nice to see you posting.

    Ron _/\_

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    Hi Khanti

    I think that our twenty four hour media culture has a lot to do with how people are reactive these days.

    Having said that there is a lot to be reactive about, from all points of view, which is interesting from a Buddhist view point, at least for me.

    What I see is the power of pyschological framing, in action, whatever deeply held beliefs a person holds that is what they see and appear to be totally unable to comprehend the others views.

    The media has polerized, information in the form of facts are overidden by opinion, conjecture is presented as fact, so the ordinary person finds it almost impossible to discern fact from bias.

    Was it always this way, it is just that the hyperbole has become so extreme that it is glaringly obvious ?

    I think that this kind of alternative reality is the normal mind, it is only highlighted over the current political issues.

    Meditation, when developed, allows the practitioner to see just how their own framing creates the uneccessary stress in their lives, this ability to clearly see, with out getting caught in the story or judgement, allows the mind to broaden it's frame of reference

    Combine this with the umbrella of ethics, meditation and wisdom, discernment grows, there is a letting go of the grip of the deeply held beliefs that run counter to the wellbeing of the practitioner

    We live in a causal reality, actions have consequences, I therefore think it is important to act when you perceive harm, however the action should always be held lightly, if you see something that you can do, then do it as long as it does not make a situation worse, but know your actions are like seeds, some will take root and thrive, some will fall on stoney ground, you should be content with the fact you did try.

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    Forums Member dwlemen's Avatar
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    McKmike beat me to a lot of points, but to throw my $0.02 in...

    I think that the 24x7 news "cycle" coupled with the way most get news via social media (not vetted, etc.) has enabled people to become much more unsettled about the situation than they may otherwise have been, or perhaps what is even warranted. The US has been through a lot and we survived. I think we'll survive this. But... I think that getting wrapped up in all the melee causes a lot of stress and anxiety on people, and that, in turn, leads to inappropriate actions or comments (something so easy to do online).

    I always considered myself a bit of a political junkie. During the '16 election campaign, I noticed 1.) I was not really enjoying following politics, and 2.) I was spending all my time staring at a screen looking at the stuff. I decided then that I would abandon Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. I now have less stress, and spend more time engaged with my family, or even hobbies (how many hours did I waste mindlessly scrolling that could have been spent hiking?).

    So for me, all this stuff really started happening at about the same time as I decided I needed to start being serious about meditation. That has led already to some insights that have helped me grow in positive ways. I continue to aspire towards mindful compassion in my daily life. And so I try to view interactions with those whose opinions may differ from mine with loving kindness. In the end, we'll be alright (or, worst case, we'll be a good warning to the cockroach people of a million years from now!).


    Peace,

    -Dave

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    Dear Aloka, Olderon, McKmike, dwelemen

    Thanks so much for your thoughts/words/suggestions. I guess I need to seriously limit my 'connection' with those who seem to be following the antithesis of the Eightfold Path! (But, oh, the lies and hypocrisy in particular, drive me to distraction - how hard they are to ignore...)

    Aye, I often tell myself I was born in a privileged time and place, which, of course, is impermanent, and it may be that the cockroaches will inherit the earth Meanwhile, I'll do my best.


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    Hi Aloka
    I've taken to writing out in longhand, a lot of the Dharma, including the above - it's very soothing! And started meditating again. Going to a nearby Buddhist Centre on Tuesday - my first time ever participating in a group - partly to encourage a friend. Not sure if she'll actually go, but I will!

    Thanks

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Khanti View Post
    Hi Aloka
    I've taken to writing out in longhand, a lot of the Dharma, including the above - it's very soothing! And started meditating again. Going to a nearby Buddhist Centre on Tuesday - my first time ever participating in a group - partly to encourage a friend. Not sure if she'll actually go, but I will!

    Thanks
    That all sounds very positive, Khanti! I hope you enjoy your visit to the Buddhist centre.


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