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Posts Tagged ‘Anger’

Buddhism And The Credit Crunch

October 28th, 2008 No comments

Buddhism tells us that we will suffer for our passions, our greed, our hatred and our ignorance. Out of ignorance of how money really works many people have seen their house price soar, borrowed money against it and indulged their passions, greed and desires. They never believed that the floor could fall out from under them as the house price bubble burst.

Well now it has burst. People will be angry at the banks that foreclose on them and literally pull the rug out from under their feet, the governments that allowed this to happen and anyone else they can pick as a scapegoat.

Buddhism tells us not to get drawn into the materialistic world of fulfilling our desires but instead tells us that by looking within and cultivating certain virtues we can be happier people whatever the ups and downs of life bring. We can develop insight – into how our minds and bodies function, how we are conditioned into reacting in certain ways and how we can, through this very insight, undo that conditioning. We can become wise and overcome our ignorance. Through understanding the roots of anger and hatred we can overcome these too.

Buddhism suggests a simple life is probably a more fulfilling one. Yet that is only true if one is awake to each moment of life and able to achieve the fulfilment of each moment. As long as one is haunted by the nightmares of the past or dreams of the future one is distracted from now. As long as one is consumed with desire or anger one is distracted from now.

There will be a lot of very unhappy people acting out of fear, anger, desire and ignorance in the coming weeks and months as the full impact of the credit crunch takes bite. Most will react like lemmings – from their conditioning. So attached to their million pound home, now worth half that, their fancy car they can not afford to run these people are failing to do now what is the only way through a credit crunch: Cut back quicker and better than anyone else does. Either that or start the credit crunch filthy rich so credit is not an issue for you at all. In depressions the wealthy tend to accumulate much more wealth whilst the poor lose what little they have.

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Auschwitz and Africa: Remembering is Not Enough

January 27th, 2005 No comments

In 1994, during what seems like a former life as a financial publisher, I found myself spending the best part of a month in Poland. One weekend I decided to visit Auschwitz and take in for myself what I had often seen through the TV screen. In part I was inspired to do this by a good Jewish friend whose grandparents had all died at the camp. The rest of my motivation was to see and understand, to comprehend the horror of victims and victimizers.

There were still enough reminders to make the visit sombre and a deeply felt experience. Many friends had no idea why I would do such a thing – I had no idea how anyone could not arm themselves with knowledge. The hardest experience for me was not entering the gas chambers where so many died and nor was it hearing the bubbly banter of a coachload of German schoolchildren as they completed the tour.

The hardest part was entering the long living shed which had been split all along one side by a glass partition. The other side of the glass was human hair from floor to ceiling, cut from victims. Blond, brown, black, some of it still in pigtails, the odd ribbon here and there, destined to be woven into coat linings. Standing next to the glass I could see the hair from the head of thousands of individuals, up close and personal. It looked like it had been swept from the hairdressers floor just that morning. Each lock, each strand, so obviously coming from an individual human being who had their own hopes, fears, celebrations and sadnesses. The whole room was an undying reminder of the uber-efficiency of the German killing machine.

On the way out of the camp there was a discreet sign that read something along the lines of ‘funded by the holocaust fund so we don’t forget and it doesn’t happen again’ – I am very heavily paraphrasing here. This was when my anger rose, and not at history but at the then present. At the time Bosnia was all over the television. Camps, mass murders, rapes, genocide. “It is happening again”, I thought, “remembering is not enough”.

It is always happening it seems, in one way or another. Today half the people in Africa will not have enough to eat. Tonnes of topsoil will be exported in the form of vegetables for Europeans to eat and flowers to grace their tables whilst they do so. Each one should come with a label that shows starving children on it and the worst effects of the desertification that will be rife in Africa within 50 years.

Remembering is not enough. Action is the only response that makes sense. If we are to live in a world where peace is the norm and hunger unknown we must take action now. It is not good enough to give a little crumb or two from the table, we must be Christlike and turn the table over.

We must change our whole way of being in the world or the world will change things for us. It is quite simply true that we live in a closed system, with limited resources and that the disproportionate use of resources, and over-use by largely white westerners, is causing Africa’s harm. These injustices are the fundamental recruiting ground for terrorists and where the untrammelled anger they carry grows. We can not escape the consequences of our actions or inaction however much we would like to.

Another 30,000 children will die needlessly today.

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