Words in a time of war?
The current flare-up of the conflict in the middle east has raised an issue in my daily practice. This is because I know people who feel very deeply the justice of either one side of this tragedy or the other. I usually do not engage in discussion about it. Zazen has helped show me that the chain of pain has no beginning. Emptiness reveals innumerable proximate causes, where no arbitrary line can be drawn as the first. Zazen isn't needed to see this, but it does go deeper by realizing it. At a time of conflict bright people who would otherwise never mistake a proximate cause for a first cause, can do so in the heat of righteousness. The long history of pain and grievance is given an origin. It is given a first date... resulting in a tidy narrative of angels and devils where all the ambiguity and shading-into-grey is no longer visible. . We have no choice but to frame situations of temporal power, in order work on a problem, but there is a world of difference between that, and grasping the picture as an absolute.
It seems likely, given the shifting politics in that region, that more conflict is to come, and more polarizing of views among friends and neighbors. There are plenty of other issues that do the same. Obviously one average person can't solve ancient conflicts, but it is possible to not bring war into our lives by polarizing people around us.
This is a maybe a wordy and abstract way of getting to a question. What are some ways that words can be used to bridge and heal deeply polarized views? Thank you.
The question is not so much how to avoid polarizing people (that can be as easy as silence). I think the question is how can we do this in a way that's not completely milquetoast - a way that refuses to validate the preconceived notions behind the conflict to begin with.
If you want to save a cat, sometimes you have to put your shoes on your head.
Hi Chet. I think i follow what you are saying. Accepting the sincerity of the view... and how it comes from real suffering. It is easy to talk peace when you haven't been injured. That is maybe why third party peace makers can seem smarmy.
Originally Posted by disastermouse
I don't know about all that. I only know life as a first party, and I thought you were talking about people with whom we are directly in contact. If you validate the preconceptions upon which either side is based, then one side must be wrong and another must be right. That right there is polarity and the source of polarity, isn't it? If you validate their views, you validate the conflict. If you validate the conflict, then why wouldn't they keep fighting?
Originally Posted by Kojip
They keep fighting because they think they know a thing. Call that into question and if you're dealing with intellectually honest and intelligent people, and you may just get them to pause for a moment. I myself have to be in the full raging roar of total idiocy before I start to wonder if I know what I think I know.
I'll respond better this evening after work . basically I'm talking about people in my daily life. Some who are directly connected to the conflict, some who just politically active and have strong views. On both sides. But generally the OP is about using words skillfully.
Originally Posted by disastermouse
What I usually say is pretty simple-minded:
I wish people could just learn to live together, forget who allegedly did what to whom in the past, with land and access to resources for everyone. Both sides should tolerate the other and avoid violence.
I hope that Jerusalem is someday turned into an international city, belonging to everyone, that all can share.
If only everyone would listen to me, the problems would be long solved there. :(
I agree ... I feel that sometimes the cause of so much conflict is because folks base their thoughts and actions on what was, not was is right here, right now.
Originally Posted by Jundo
I'm afraid that what is right here right now is so bad for so many people that change is imperative. Hopefully that change will come through enlightened and peaceful negotiations. I am sorry to say I doubt it.
Gassho, with hopes nevertheless for a just outcome.
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
Naomi Shihab Nye
from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems
Thank you for these words Myozan. :)
Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo
Thanks for these responses. Can't fix everything.. Can't fix much a lot of the time.
With words you can ask the right questions. Plant seeds that will eventually undermine the fixed positions, the ignorance that upholds the attachment to wrong views. With action you can be the change you want to see in the world (as Dalai Lama said). You can be an example. You can't force people to change or see things differently, but you can show them a different way. I think that's the only way. Stop contributing to the negative spiral of pain, hate and suffering. Avoid doing harm. Start contributing to the positive spiral of wisdom, tolerance and compassion. Even if there would be peace in the middle east today, it would take several generations before the hate subsided. But in the long run, I can't help being hopeful.
Originally Posted by Kojip
I am also reminded of this sad-crazy story from that part of the world. If only folks could learn to share and share alike the very church, the Holy Sepulchre, marking the spot where Jesus was said to be born ...
Various Christian denominations - Greek Orthodox, Armenians, Catholics, among others - have always jealously defended and protected their own particular parts of the site. Disputes are not uncommon, particularly over who has the authority to carry out repairs. For example, a wooden ladder has remained on a ledge just above the main entrance since the 19th Century - because no-one can agree who has the right to take it down.
Amazingly..The east-west Christian split goes all the way back to the reign of Constantine in the late Roman Empire, and the council of Nicea. There was disagreement over the nature of the Trinity. After his conversion to monotheism Constantine allowed the old pantheism to exist for a while.. classical pantheism was remarkably tolerant of different sects, and averse to fanaticism. But then a monotheistic zero-sum mentality kicked in, and so did the destruction of ancient learning and skills as we entered the Dark Ages.
.....Not long after Constantine, Emperor Julian bucked the tide and re-opened the old sacred sites, allowing free worship, and free learning. It didn't survive his early death ...and he was dubbed "Julian the Apostate".
Just rambling...[coffee][donut] Gassho, kojip
Hope you cold is better.
I am afraid that the Buddhist, Zen and Soto Zen world has been little better. As you may know from history, even the two "factions" of the Soto Zen Head Temples in Japan, Eiheiji (Dogen's monastery) and Sojiji (Keizan's monastery) barely spoke to each other ... and played all manner of political games ... over the centuries. I won't even begin to go into the rivalries between different schools of Buddhism as a whole. Fortunately, most of that was (usually) non-violent in a Buddhist way, but I mention it so as to not imply that religious rivalry is somehow a matter limited just to other religions. Human nature is human nature.
Page 82 here touches on the story ...
It is all silly.