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...]

How to Open Your Eyes but Not Lose Heart

You don't have to be a rocket scientist or a radical thinker to conclude humanity is on a path toward the kind of dystopian world imagined in the bleakest of scifi novels. We can't keep trashing our planet without dire consequences. We can't keep using up our non-renewable resources as if we have an infinite supply. We can't keep acting as if it's each man for himself (or country for itself) without the social fabric of our world completely disintegrating.If we keep on this path, we'll have a … [Read more...]

What Did Thich Nhat Hanh Mean by “Accepting this Civilization Can Be Destroyed?”

A friend recently sent me a link to an interesting Youtube video featuring a short interview with Thich Nhat Hanh. In it, Canadian environmentalists David Suzuki and Jim Hoggan discuss the ecological emergency we are facing on this planet, and the problem of public apathy about or denial of climate change.Thich Nhat Hanh listens carefully and then responds, “You have to accept that this civilization can be destroyed. Not by something outside, but by ourselves. In fact, many civilizations have … [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...]

The Joy of Having No (Versus Low) Expectations for the World

There are two kinds of expectations. One is a belief that something is likely to happen. The other is belief that something should happen: Someone should be able to achieve something or act in a particular way, or circumstances should unfold in a particular way. This second kind of expectation is what we're referring to when we say we have high expectations for someone, or for the world. It's usually meant to be a compliment.For example, I cherish an expectation that people will be re … [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...]

Let’s Start a Global Movement!

Would you be willing to adopt the following Seven Principles and become a Global Citizen?I dream of a mass movement: People everywhere - regardless of nationality, race, faith, class, political party - committing to these core principles, or something like them. Our future depends on living according to these kinds of values - as individuals, communities, nations, and as a species.I've personally longed for something simple to devote myself to. There are so many causes, so many issues... … [Read more...]

My First Protest Rally

Just thought I'd write a little report about my first protest rally. I'm guessing my readers will fall into two basic categories with respect to protests: Either you have attended them before and they're no big deal to you, or you haven't attended one before and they present awkward, uncharted territory. Until yesterday I was in the second category.The rally was pretty cool and only took a little over an hour. It was held at noon next to the offices of our U.S. representative and senator, … [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...]