I couldn’t help it. I just had to keep this story going since I think it is actually quite meaningful.
All of us should consider how it is, on a psycho-spiritual level, that we both let information about our world in, and then how we express it. Is there clinging? Is there resistance? As much as I tend to laugh at much of Deepak Chopra’s public persona (especially his new sparkle glasses), I believe he’s received a raw deal from both Dorothy Rabinowitz at the Wall Street Journal and Sean Hannity at FOX News. I should also add Elizabeth Hasselbeck at The View, but I was told by a Buddha that she doesn’t count.
Chopra, who is a senior scientist at Gallup, was part of a team that conducted a poll of 600 million Muslims (about half of the Muslim population of the world). Countries polled included Pakistan, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia. What he concluded in the poll is that the vast majority (92-95%) of Muslims are moderates, and they admire the West for their entrepreneurship, business and modernism.
So what does this tell us?
Based on the survey, the cause of terrorism is “a rage that comes from humiliation, lack of respect, and also from factors that we are unaware of, generally uneducated about.”
And how does this ignorance manifest in the US?
We have no understanding of how these violent ideologies are born. We want to just go to war and kill the terrorists. Well, the bad news is you can kill as many terrorists as you want, but you cannot kill terrorism. In order to kill terrorism it’s gonna have to be a 50-year Marshall Plan to not build war torn cities, but to build ideas. To rebuild violence torn minds. To educate them, to help them, to cooperate with them, to create economic partnerships so that the rage disappears, and to understand them. There are very simple rules for having a dialogue. You respect your enemy. You talk to them with the attitude, ‘Yes. We understand that you also have injustice and we also feel injustice. Can we have a room here for forgiveness on both sides? Can we refrain from belligerence?’ The more belligerent we get, the more belligerent the radicals get.”
And, apparently, the more belligerent the right wing talk-show hosts get:
…when he appeared on Hannity and Colmes, Hannity shot him down for comparing a recent Scientific American article about cancer to terrorism. Evidently, when we treat cancer too aggressively, cancer cells hijack normal cells and make them co-conspirators in spreading the cancer. “Do you see an analogy there?” he said. To him, the collateral damage of the war on terror has caused some people to get hijacked by terrorists to become co-conspirators in spreading the terrorism.
Bill O’Reilly asked him to come on The O’Reilly Factor too. “I will appear on your show on two conditions,” he emailed O’Reilly. “Number one: You will not raise the volume of your voice. And number two: You will not interrupt me. And I will not raise the volume of my voice and I will not interrupt you.” O’Reilly has yet to reply.
At least the WSJ had the decency to agree to publish Chopra’s response to the Rabinowitz’s earlier piece in Friday’s paper.
So what does it all mean? Well, for one, I’m glad Deepak is running interference for those of us teaching from a cushion. Well-meaning men and women like me cough out podcasts, blogs, and occasional books while he is using his well-deserved celebrity to mix things up in the mainstream media, not to mention within the hearts and minds of those who now watch The View. Kudos. Please continue. You’re making a difference.
From a Buddhist perspective this is a story not just about Right Action, or Right Speech. Rather, this is also a story about how we are evolving as people through, and with, each other. It’s sloppy, painful, and somewhat funny, depending on your perspective. But let us allow for that deepest of perspectives to guide us. Then, maybe, just maybe, our actions and our speech can reflect something bigger about us that doesn’t cause so much harm.