Five Things To Do Now That Trump Has Been Elected

One: GrieveHalf of the people in our country (maybe slightly less than half?) just said a big f___ you to immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, refugees, minorities, poor people, women, disabled people, LGBT people, the environment - the list goes on and on. Why? I wish I knew, but here's the political outcome I feel most confident about right now: I'm going to be able to keep more of my money for myself. For a beautiful description of our grief, read "Here's Why We Grieve Today" by John Pa … [Read more...]

The World Is Burning and Yet I Garden: Reflections after a Session on Climate Change at the Soto Zen Buddhist Association Conference

I feel that it is very important to say something right now, but it is very difficult to do so. I don’t think it’s so much that I can’t find the words. That’s not usually a problem for me. What’s difficult is to even get in touch with my current experience. Part of me is reeling from overwhelming shock and grief, another part of me is dumbfounded with confusion and disbelief, and yet another part of me continues to energetically and joyfully live my life as if the other two parts don’t even exist … [Read more...]

What in the Hell Is Happening in Our Country?

As I sit down at my computer for a day of work, I take a sip of coffee and yield to the temptation to check Facebook and see what's going on.All I can think is, "Oh God, not again."Two more black men shot dead by police in as many days.While the country still reels from the slaughter in Orlando. Which happened even though Sandy Hook should have been the absolute end of the line for this nonsense.Shock, disbelief, and outrage surge through my mind and body. The scariest part is … [Read more...]

Not Just Guns and Madmen: Our Whole Society Is Insane

Just about every blogger will have something to say in the wake of the Umpqua Community College shooting. Some will just be sad, others will point out this or that as the primary reason for such a tragedy.I just want to point out how screwed up this is. This is insane. This is a sign of the decline of our society. Seriously, folks.Without excusing anything, I ask you to imagine the mindset of these mass shooters. They are not just crazy. Maybe most have some degree of "mental illness," bu … [Read more...]

Dear Emily, My Great-Grand Niece

I have no children of my own, so any descendants of my sister will be my closest relatives in the distant future. My nephew and niece are 10 and 12 years old right now; if they have children about age 30, my grandnieces or grandnephews will be born around 2035; if they in turn have children at about age 30, my great-grandniece - who I am calling Emily because I've always liked the name - will be born around 2065 and come of age around 2085. That's 70 years from now- far enough in the future that … [Read more...]

More Reflections on Activism as a Person of Faith

Yesterday I attended a rally in downtown Portland against fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. I went by myself and incognito (that is, no one could tell I was a Buddhist, let alone a Zen priest). That was fine, but I did find myself wishing a had bunch of Buddhist buddies with me, and that we could march together behind a banner saying "Buddhists for Climate Justice" or something like that. The rally was organized by the Oregon AFL-CIO, so the trade unions were there in … [Read more...]

Three Ways Activists Alienate People – and What They Can Do about It

If, like me, you want to be an effective activist, it's good to keep in mind how you're liable to alienate people instead of getting them on your side.Activist are people who are actively trying to bring about change in the world. Ideally they also try to be responsible and considerate people, but they go beyond this by working for positive change in the cultures, systems, and organizations around them.I've felt for a long time I should be an activist of some kind - that I should pi … [Read more...]

I’m Afraid You’ll Stop Reading this Blog If I Talk about This

On New Year's Eve, 2014, I found out that we have two years - until 2017 - to cut carbon emissions, or risk catastrophic global consequences from climate change. As I heard the sounds of fireworks going off outside, I was reading Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. A knot started forming in the pit of stomach as I read: "In a 2012 report, the World Bank laid out the gamble implied by [the 2-degree Celsius] target [laid out in a non-binding international agreement a … [Read more...]

Can We Really Save the World with Lifestyle Change?

I know I am far from the first person to ask this, but can we really save the world - and by that I mean from the ravages of climate disruption - by changing our personal lifestyles? Or is that a story we've been fed by the powers that be in order to shift the burden of responsibility away from those who benefit most from our current economic system?Perhaps it's a story we've created ourselves in order to feel somewhat empowered: We can make a difference in climate change and environmental … [Read more...]

A Confession of Race-based Fear

I feel moved to confess something about my own race-based fear, prompted by this passage from a post by Sophia A. Nelson on The Root ( "In the final analysis, we Americans continue to be cowards about race. We refuse to talk about institutionalized racism and cultural biases that affect our everyday judgments as people. And until we 'go there,' for real, with the support of our political leaders, clergy, educators and industry executives, nothing will change. The fact that we h … [Read more...]