“In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics. This is not even a legal or legislative issue alone…law alone cannot make men see right. We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution…One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.”
— President John F. Kennedy June 11, 1963
Buddhism teaches us that, “Social injustice exists when individuals treat each other unfairly based on discrimination according to some socially constructed label (race, class, gender, age, language, ability, etc.) and/or systemic government practices and policies which directly or indirectly treat different groups unfairly (housing, health, policing, labor, voting, environmental, education laws).” The path toward correcting such injustices is the same path toward peace for the individual and all sentient beings. We cannot and will not have Peace-on-Earth until truly all men and women regardless of their racial, social, cultural, religious, or political identities, share equally in the ”Right to Life, Liberty, Equal Opportunity and Happiness”.
Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “Mindfulness must be engaged. Once we see that something needs to be done, we must take action. Seeing and action go together. Otherwise, what is the point in seeing?”
“The American monk venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi has also spoken of the need for Buddhist practitioners to engage in the world of social injustices as an extension of the Buddha’s teachings on social and community harmony (Bodhi).”
Anyone who identifies with “living spiritually in the world,” must understand that our very existence, the very meaning and purpose of our lives is, “To realize our inner divinity and manifest our inner enlightenment. Fostering peace in your own life and then apply the Art of Peace to all that you encounter.” The “enlightenment” of engaged acts of Loving-Kindness, Compassion, and Benevolent Service; of “Charity towards All and Malice towards None” is the means by which we establish a real and sustainable Peace on Earth.
It would be a grave error to consider the upcoming election in November as just another political election, a battle between two dominant and equally opposite political parties. Make no mistake about it, the election is a referendum, if not the most important referendum of modern times — “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution…” — What kind of world, what kind of society, do we want to live in and to raise our children in?
“The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated…We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it, and we cherish our freedom here at home, but are we to say to the world, and much more importantly, to each other that this is the land of the free except for people of color; that we have no second-class citizens except for people of color and the poor; that we have no class or caste system, no ghettoes, no master race except with respect to people of color and the less fortunate?” –(JFK 1963 para.)
Authentic Spirituality is “a journey toward waking up to a truth that releases everyone, not a chosen few, from suffering.” Once again as President Kennedy stated fifty-seven years ago:
“We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and a people. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is a time to act in the Congress, in your State and local legislative body and, above all, in all of our daily lives. It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the facts that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all. Those who do nothing are inviting shame, as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right, as well as reality.”
One hundred fifty-seven years ago since President Lincoln freed the slaves, the moral questions of life continue to challenge the very fabric, the heart and soul, of our Nation. Once again we are faced with a great opportunity, infinite potential, to once and for all “answer the call to freedom” not just for a chosen few, not just for the more fortunate, but for all sentient beings.
History has proven time and time again that, silence is complicity, inaction empowers evil in the world and, only when individual men and women who come together in unity of purpose resolved to right what is wrong in our world, has always proven to be victorious over tyranny and the many causes for suffering.
I Love You,