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Politics and Buddhism

Just been doing homework on how Some CEOs earn over 700x more than average employees, yet why does anyone need this much money when people can’t even feed themselves across the world, I don’t see a problem with providing for yourself, having some luxuries etc but that bodes the question how does Political views and Buddhism incorporate, for example what are people’s views here on Capitalism and the spread of consumerism?

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Comments

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Somebody worked out the other day that about 7 million euro was all that was required to live upon for a lifetime. Perhaps we should ban everyone who earns that amount from working again, except as a volunteer.

    adamcrossleyWesternBuddhism
  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Explorer
    edited April 23

    I think we had a thread that touched on this recently:

    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/25537/hhdl-s-views-on-materialism

    I’m personally very conflicted politically. I have strong values and a sense of moral good and bad, like most people. But I can’t decide to what extent I want the government to impose those values on other people. On the one hand I think it would be great if people stopped smoking so much tobacco, but I’d rather that change came from education than from government-imposed restrictions.

    Emperor Asoka wrote that, throughout history

    progress among the people through Dhamma has been done by two means, by Dhamma regulations and by persuasion. Of these, Dhamma regulation is of little effect, while persuasion has much more effect. The Dhamma regulations I have given are that various animals must be protected. And I have given many other Dhamma regulations also. But it is by persuasion that progress among the people through Dhamma has had a greater effect in respect of harmlessness to living beings and non-killing of living beings.

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/dhammika/wheel386.html

    I think I would have the government act likewise: encourage moral behaviour through persuasion rather than regulation. So in the case of these CEOs who earn so much more than their employees, I wouldn’t make that illegal; but I would somehow like to show them why it’s immoral, and to let them make their own changes.

    For a Buddhist view of politics, I recommend Asoka’s edicts (found at the link above). I think they show what Buddhists have traditionally seen as ideal leadership.

    personWesternBuddhism
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 23

    The French are clever; they never mix Politics with religion. One is one, the other is the other. Like oil and water, they don't mix. Neither should they, nor should they have to. (Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and all that....)
    I haven't voted in over 30 years. I can safely say, hand on heart, I don't believe for one single nanosecond that my country has suffered as a consequence.
    I on the other hand, am much relieved and have peace of mind, because of my neutrality.

    (I did however, vote once, in the past few years, on this 'Brexit' matter. That doesn't count; it wasn't cast in support of a particular political party, or any member thereof.)

    WesternBuddhism
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited April 23

    lol, don't get me started.

    Besides the above thread on HHDL and materialism, you can read some of my thoughts about that here and here. The shorty answer is, my Buddhist practice made more aware of and concerned about the material and political state of the world, and motivated me to get politically active. And that eventually led me to a critical view of capitalism and the conviction that fundamental changes in our economy have to be made, not only for our happiness but also for our survival as a species.

    KeromeWesternBuddhism
  • yagryagr Veteran
    edited April 23

    @WesternBuddhism said:
    Just been doing homework on how Some CEOs earn over 700x more than average employees, yet why does anyone need this much money when people can’t even feed themselves across the world,

    There are some folks out there who have had 700x more sexual partners than the average person. There are also some folks who have absorbed 700x more dhamma than the average person. People tend to chase things they believe are important, but most everyone chases something. Perhaps compassion for those who have an unskillful understanding of what's important would be in order.

    @adamcrossley said: So in the case of these CEOs who earn so much more than their employees, I wouldn’t make that illegal; but I would somehow like to show them why it’s immoral, and to let them make their own changes.

    My beliefs of what constitutes something immoral has changed so many times over the course of my lifetime, that I try not to put too much stock in my current beliefs.

    @federica said: I haven't voted in over 30 years. I can safely say, hand on heart, I don't believe for one single nanosecond that my country has suffered as a consequence.
    I on the other hand, am much relieved and have peace of mind, because of my neutrality.

    I have never voted. I may hold a unique distinction in that despite that fact, I once held elected office. I couldn't bring myself to vote for me - seemed too self-serving.

    Anyway...my current income is $177 USD/month (127 GBP). Those who chase money are welcome to the rest that would bring me to the poverty line. It comes with a warning though - it won't make them happy.

    personWesternBuddhismkarasti
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    My estimation is that without a top line there can be no bottom line. If there is a minimum one can survive on then there should be a cap on how much one can make. Otherwise we set up a system for the top 1 percent.

    Once you reach the cap, 50 percent of your earnings goes into the collective pot and then shelter, nutrition, healthcare and education could be human rights.

    WesternBuddhism
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @WesternBuddhism said:
    Just been doing homework on how Some CEOs earn over 700x more than average employees, yet why does anyone need this much money when people can’t even feed themselves across the world, I don’t see a problem with providing for yourself, having some luxuries etc but that bodes the question how does Political views and Buddhism incorporate, for example what are people’s views here on Capitalism and the spread of consumerism?

    From what I gather it all boils down to Karma & Merit :) ...

    A case of causes conditions and their effects...
    Good bad wholesome unwholesome it's all relative...Which all comes out in the karmic wash...

  • TsultrimTsultrim Hawaii Veteran

    Today i read about financial inequality and how to enjoy the arts on this forum and i started to think of the two truths in Buddhism; entities that i would assume have been covered here before. Neverthless, it may be worth while dusting them off a bit and taking another look.

    One of the truths is relative truth. Simply put, it governs a dualistic world, one of politics,the arts, or any thing else we can think of. It is a place w here egos interact with a world outside themselves, one that they try to manipulate for their own benefit. In this dualistic world of me and them, three approaches invariably obtain: passion, aggression and ignorance, the three poisons of the mind. Because of the three poisons, no satisfactory mental resolution is ever enjoyed for long in the relative world. Tragically, almost everyone spends their life in this world, not knowing of an alternative. As a result, they suffer.

    The second truth is absolute truth, the truth Gautama Buddha discovered This truth governs the absolute world where dualism does not arise. There is no self interacting with other, because self has been seen to be nonexistent or egoless and the world, has been seen as devoid of any abiding essence. In this world, emptiness inseparable from awareness, limitless space, caring, complete relaxation, total freedom and bliss reign.This is the world for us.

    Unfortunately, relative truth rules our present world, and it is a world that demands our constant attention or we suffer.( war, starvation, pollution etc). It can also bring us pleasure at times like the arts etc, but even those aspects of it eventually suffer from duality.

    What to do? We have to devote ourselves to realizing absolute truth through Buddhist teachings, meditation, sangha and the teachings the everyday world presents us, like how all our dreams and efforts eventually fall through when death arrives.
    Once we discover absolute truth, a remarkable thing happens: we see absolute truth manifested in the relative world: a tree is empty like awakened mind and we are inseparable from others in emptiness. At that point, our life becomes absolute truth under all circumstances. In other words, we discover what the Buddha did that we are inherently free, caring and blissful.

    JeffreylobsterWesternBuddhism
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    I think, at it's core, Buddhism is apolitical. It is concerned almost entirely with each of our individual perceptions and actions.

    You can then use whatever worldview Buddhism builds in you to act in the world to create better systems and conditions.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Does Buddhism have a political dimension? For me and others it does ...
    http://www.davidloy.org/blog.html

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    edited April 25

    current politics largely seem incompatible with a remotely peaceful life or the solving of meaningful problems. They are just as self-serving as the people we wish they would better regulate. I don't think we want them telling people how to live or determining what is the right life to live.

    If we were to look to regulate income, then we would also have to regulate cost, and life. We live comfortably on 50k a year. That would barely pay the rent (and nevermind a house payment) in a lot of cities on the coasts. So who determines what life someone has to live based on their money? I do think it's utterly ridiculous what some people are paid. Entertainers, pro sports players, politicians, investors, etc etc. Don't get me wrong there. I just think there are a lot of problems with something as simple as "if you make x$ you can't make any more." Because it then regulates, potentially, where someone can live and what they can do with their life. I have a friend who makes a good amount of money. He's older, and retired. But he also runs a nonprofit that provides schools and housing in Asia to orphans. So if you regulated his income, who is going to do those things for those kids? Just one example.

    Also know that in the US, work is entirely tied to your health benefits for the majority of people. That is the only way people have medical coverage when they are under age 65 (for many because it is unaffordable to buy privately) as well as their retirement and pay for their children's educations and so on. In places where this stuff is largely covered, it might be more doable but a lot would have to change here first. If we had to pay for 100% of our insurance it would cost us more than $20,000 a year.

    person
  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    Those that earn more pay far more in tax and support the government in providing a welfare state, healthcare and the like.

    A top footballer pays more in tax in a week than the average worker pays in 10 years.

    A top businessman provides salaries to 10/100/1000 workers.

    Caps on wealth would severely restrict investment, development, advances in science and technology and medicine. The whole economy and whole world would stagnate.

    Every coin has a flip side.

    person
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    But how much do the wealthy likewise hold back advances because they are making money on the current state? Why can't we meaningfully move past fossil fuels in the US? Or make progress towards it? Why are doctors now changing their mindsets from working and researching towards cures to managing diseases? Because cures don't make people rich. Those who are rich are rich on the backs of the rest of us. Mostly. Because we support them, we buy their products that they manipulatively sell to us. They recruit us to support their dreams while we give up our own. It's quite the system they have going.

    person
  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    I can't imagine a world where there was say a cap of $100/day in earnings, or where everyone had the same amount regardless of the job they did, regardless of the risk they took or the success they had, or even if they didn't work at all. Such a world couldn't exist.

    There are of course imbalances, but the ability to accumulate wealth and the need to pay taxes from that wealth is fundamental to having an operational society in my opinion.

    Few would argue that a footballer deserves to earn more than a doctor or a soldier or a teacher, but those roles are essential and not income generating, thus can never attract an inflated salary.

    Following it through, if a footballer could only earn $100/week and therefore the cost of match tickets was almost free, and the club owner could only make $100/week profit, and the advertisers could only make $100/week profit and the person selling the pies at half time also got $100/week. Why would anyone even bother? All products, services, events etc would cease to exist.

    Just playing devil's advocate and trying to see the other side of the argument.

    person
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    I don't have any issue with people like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs making huge amounts of money. The kind of people who make new things that actually create more productivity and wealth in the world should be able keep the majority of the value they create. It doesn't make anyone actually poorer, only relatively poorer compared to how much they have. Creators and innovators like them create millions or billions of times more value to the economy than I ever will and by letting them keep the fruits of their skills and efforts that incentivizes others to do the same.

    I'm much more uncertain that CEOs should get paid what they get paid. Maybe it's a difficult job and since companies need to compete for the cream of the crop that overly inflates wages, like the way elite athletes get paid. I do feel more strongly that the children of the super rich aren't deserving of the wealth that they are handed. I don't know the economics of any possible downsides but I would favor a much larger estate tax that takes back most of the wealth from those who have earned it when they die to encourage a meritocracy and discourage aristocracy.

    WesternBuddhism
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Corporate wealth mostly seems to focus on doing whatever they can to turn the largest profit for investors and then bailing, leaving everyone who is barely hanging by a thread with nothing left to hang to. Case in point, the recent shuttering of Toys R Us and then a major group that owned several midwest (hundreds of stores) clothing stores. Bad business deals that scored major profits for a few at the top and screwed over thousands of workers and families.

    person
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited April 26

    @person said:
    I don't have any issue with people like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs making huge amounts of money. The kind of people who make new things that actually create more productivity and wealth in the world should be able keep the majority of the value they create. It doesn't make anyone actually poorer, only relatively poorer compared to how much they have. Creators and innovators like them create millions or billions of times more value to the economy than I ever will and by letting them keep the fruits of their skills and efforts that incentivizes others to do the same.

    A. The ones making the most money aren't usually the ones actively creating and producing new technologies or commodities. They're often earning the value created by others just because they have the capital to do so and own the property rights and patents. It's not like Jobs sat there an made each iPhone himself. He had teams of developers and engineers, then outsourced production to places like Foxconn, which overworks and abuses their employees so much they've had to install nets to catch all the workers trying to commit suicide.

    B. Many companies get tax breaks and subsides (i.e., public funds) and rarely pay what they'd normally owe. And combined with overseas tax shelters and loop holes, many pay $0 in taxes, like Amazon and a host of others, many in the energy sector. As for Apple, they have a penchant for storing their profits in tax havens so they don't have to pay taxes on it, and they've got a cushy deal with the government to get out of what they would owe if they brought a big chunk of that back to the US to do what they were already probably planning on doing anyway. The average person, however, doesn't have those luxuries.

    C. Most of that wealth gets hoarded, often in overseas tax shelters, and paid out to shareholders. Workers rarely benefit from the huge profits created, nor the public. Some people think this is fine, but I'm not one of them since a large part of that wealth is created through our labour and the use of public infrastructure.

    D. I think that the Buddha would look at the state of our political-economy and the ways we treat one another, especially our elderly, and see a nation likely to decline because of the kammic seeds being planted.

    Just my two cents.

    Vastmind
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    2 cents maybe. Depending on how you view them, they block out the sun....

    person
  • yagryagr Veteran

    @Lee82 said:
    I can't imagine a world where there was say a cap of $100/day in earnings, or where everyone had the same amount regardless of the job they did, regardless of the risk they took or the success they had, or even if they didn't work at all. Such a world couldn't exist.

    Like you, just playing Devil's Advocate here, not sure how I feel about any of what I'm about to say but when I read the above, I immediately thought of the military pay scale, made some modifications and came up with this thought:

    You start working out of school at say, an E1 (lowest enlisted rank) making $500/wk. After four years of continuous employment, you get a promotion to E2 and a commensurate raise to, I don't know - for the sake of discussion, $550/wk. If you get fired during your employment, the clock stops and doesn't start up again until you're back to work. Four years later, you're an E3 making $600/wk.

    Like the military, there is hazardous duty pay for those entering combat situations - or in this case, dangerous occupations. i.e. police officer or teacher in my old high school. In demand jobs could offer a pay bonus similar to hazardous duty pay. Over time would need to be calculated somehow. Obviously, this doesn't provide for all issues and leaves many questions unanswered but I'm wondering if something could be built from this premise.

    karasti
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I find it obscene that a football (soccer to my FATP) player, can earn 200,000 in a week, but a trained ER nurse has to go to a Food bank for some extra supplies....

    WesternBuddhismVastmind
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I think it’s a shame that people don’t appear to realise that money is not as important as it seems, once you have enough. I mean, say that you earn money beyond the 7 million that you need to be set for life, what are you going to do with it? Learn to be an investor so that you can make a bigger pile? Play at being god to employees somewhere? Neither of those seem conducive to personal or spiritual growth.

    I doubt very much that many wealthy people see the responsibility their money puts them in, towards the community. They just seem to assume the game is getting more. This means they remain in the grip of greed. The bottom line is there are better ways to utilise that money than just generating a return on investment...

    person
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran
    edited April 26

    @karasti said:
    Corporate wealth mostly seems to focus on doing whatever they can to turn the largest profit for investors and then bailing, leaving everyone who is barely hanging by a thread with nothing left to hang to. Case in point, the recent shuttering of Toys R Us and then a major group that owned several midwest (hundreds of stores) clothing stores. Bad business deals that scored major profits for a few at the top and screwed over thousands of workers and families.

    30 to 40 years ago a shift in the way corporations think about their responsibility began to change to one that is almost totally concerned with maximizing shareholder value rather than stakeholder (employees, suppliers, surrounding community,etc., also including shareholders) value. I'd say that is the primary cause of the problems you site.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/07/stop-spoiling-the-shareholders/309381/

    Keromekarasti
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited April 26

    @federica said:
    I find it obscene that a football (soccer to my FATP) player, can earn 200,000 in a week, but a trained ER nurse has to go to a Food bank for some extra supplies....

    That is obscene. And so is the fact that hospital and insurance provider CEOs often make that and more while their own caregivers are struggling to support themselves and their families. In the last few years, my own employer, a non-profit healthcare provider no less, has raised insurance rates a significant amount (to a point some feel will lead to the overcharging of customers); stockpiled a huge reserve of cash (5.8 billion); paid nine employees, the majority of which were administrators, $1 million+ and another 27 $500,000+; decreased overall charitable spending despite windfall profits; and are actively engaging in union busting. Unfortunately, the logic of capitalism compels capital to accumulate, whether it's part of a non-profit or not. It compels competition between capitals, as well as the antagonistic social relations between capital and labour, non-profit or not. And it compels the profit motive and continual growth to be the driving force of our economic foundation. And this logic, in turn, serves to condition the shape and workings of our social institutions and culture, often negatively.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    @Jason this has happened in our state as well. Our largest insurer, BCBS no less, has a huge pile of money in reserves, way more than recommended, and yet they raised premiums for people to beyond what the average person could ever afford to pay. It seems too much to me like saying "I'm sorry, I can't pay my $1,000 tax bill because that $10,000 in my savings is for something else." On the plus side, the ACA requires they pay some of that back because their profits were much higher than estimated.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran
    edited April 27

    I think Buddhist compassion calls on us to recognize our common humanity and move away from tribalism.

    Society-wide, people are becoming ever more tribal. And tribalism is as old as social groups, which is older than humans. So it’s no surprise that people are looking to find those who sound the most like them, and who they imagine will be the most likely to keep them in their heads when things go wrong. But the way that it’s manifesting is a particularly modern instantiation that I don’t think we’ve seen before.

    So protest is old and is honorable and is important; we must be allowed, in any system that calls itself democratic, to dissent. Increasingly, we have groups who are claiming to be emerging from this age-old culture of protest who are actually tamping out dissent, who are saying there are things that cannot be said, there are things that cannot be thought, there are research programs that cannot be done, and that’s dangerous, and it comes from a place of fear, and fear is very powerful evolutionarily. It rises to the top of the emotions when it shows up, and it’s hard to get through the fear with an argument that is rational. Emotion and rationality don’t tend to interface with one another very well, and some of the language that we’re hearing from the extremes on both sides of the political spectrum—I’m not sure that calling it a spectrum is really apt, but everyone is familiar with it.

    So the extremes on the right and on the left are both using fear to further polarize people, and the people on the right, the people on the far right, the extremists on the right are both, I think, a smaller group and better armed and thus in some ways more terrifying, but there are so many fewer of them that they don’t seem to have as much voice in society as the growing numbers of extremists on the left who are using words and increasingly, in the case of some of the groups, violent tactics.

    But they don’t tend to be armed in the way the extreme right is, and so it’s easy for people to imagine that they’re not as dangerous, but shutting down dissent, shutting down the ability to discuss ideas, is actually the beginning of the death of democracy.

    So why does it work? It works because since people have been social, which is to say since before people were people, since we were great apes and before that primates that weren’t great apes, and whatever social mammals came before that, we have been splintering into groups and watching out for our own. And it wasn’t just kin groups, it was kin groups and extended family, and then friends and family.

    But the tribes that we see forming now are able to garner more power because they can use modern technology to move into old, old circuits.

    So social media can be used to mobilize a group and to enrage a group, to inflame a group, where a town crier 500 years ago or a roving storyteller thousands of years ago might have brought news that would have alarmed a group of townspeople or a village or a hunter-gatherer tribe when they came together in their annual fusion event with lots and lots of tribes together, they might hear something that struck them as dangerous

    ~Transcript of evolutionary biologist Heather Heying from this video

    I think Buddhist wisdom calls on us to be humble in the face of a massively complex world. It's really hard to determine which levers and buttons to push, by fixing one problem will we create a worse problem?

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited April 27

    @person said:
    I think Buddhist compassion calls on us to recognize our common humanity and move away from tribalism.

    Society-wide, people are becoming ever more tribal. And tribalism is as old as social groups, which is older than humans. So it’s no surprise that people are looking to find those who sound the most like them, and who they imagine will be the most likely to keep them in their heads when things go wrong. But the way that it’s manifesting is a particularly modern instantiation that I don’t think we’ve seen before.

    So protest is old and is honorable and is important; we must be allowed, in any system that calls itself democratic, to dissent. Increasingly, we have groups who are claiming to be emerging from this age-old culture of protest who are actually tamping out dissent, who are saying there are things that cannot be said, there are things that cannot be thought, there are research programs that cannot be done, and that’s dangerous, and it comes from a place of fear, and fear is very powerful evolutionarily. It rises to the top of the emotions when it shows up, and it’s hard to get through the fear with an argument that is rational. Emotion and rationality don’t tend to interface with one another very well, and some of the language that we’re hearing from the extremes on both sides of the political spectrum—I’m not sure that calling it a spectrum is really apt, but everyone is familiar with it.

    So the extremes on the right and on the left are both using fear to further polarize people, and the people on the right, the people on the far right, the extremists on the right are both, I think, a smaller group and better armed and thus in some ways more terrifying, but there are so many fewer of them that they don’t seem to have as much voice in society as the growing numbers of extremists on the left who are using words and increasingly, in the case of some of the groups, violent tactics.

    But they don’t tend to be armed in the way the extreme right is, and so it’s easy for people to imagine that they’re not as dangerous, but shutting down dissent, shutting down the ability to discuss ideas, is actually the beginning of the death of democracy.

    So why does it work? It works because since people have been social, which is to say since before people were people, since we were great apes and before that primates that weren’t great apes, and whatever social mammals came before that, we have been splintering into groups and watching out for our own. And it wasn’t just kin groups, it was kin groups and extended family, and then friends and family.

    But the tribes that we see forming now are able to garner more power because they can use modern technology to move into old, old circuits.

    So social media can be used to mobilize a group and to enrage a group, to inflame a group, where a town crier 500 years ago or a roving storyteller thousands of years ago might have brought news that would have alarmed a group of townspeople or a village or a hunter-gatherer tribe when they came together in their annual fusion event with lots and lots of tribes together, they might hear something that struck them as dangerous

    ~Transcript of evolutionary biologist Heather Heying from this video

    I think Buddhist wisdom calls on us to be humble in the face of a massively complex world. It's really hard to determine which levers and buttons to push, by fixing one problem will we create a worse problem?

    Hm. I do think that Buddhist compassion calls on us to recognize our common humanity and move away from tribalism. But when it comes to some of the things that Heather Heying says, I'm less in agreement.

    For one, I do think there are some things we shouldn't do or say, and some research that shouldn't be done. I don't think it makes one an extremist to say that the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, for example, was wrong and should never be repeated.

    I also don't think things like shutting down nazis and white supremacists is equivalent to what nazis and white supremacists are trying to do, since they latter are using violence and intimidation to try and purge their society of anyone who isn't like them, which is usually straight, white, and Christian. Their entire philosophy itself is a violent threat to those unlike themselves, and I think history has clearly shown us the damage they can do when allowed to go relatively unchallenged, especially when the state is increasingly on their side.

    Sometimes, I think distinctions are important to make, and lines need to be drawn, because not all ideas and actions are equal. We might make some mistakes along the way and cause unintentional harm, but like Howard Zinn used to say, you can't be neutral on a moving train.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran
    edited April 27

    @Jason said:

    @person said:
    I think Buddhist compassion calls on us to recognize our common humanity and move away from tribalism.

    Society-wide, people are becoming ever more tribal. And tribalism is as old as social groups, which is older than humans. So it’s no surprise that people are looking to find those who sound the most like them, and who they imagine will be the most likely to keep them in their heads when things go wrong. But the way that it’s manifesting is a particularly modern instantiation that I don’t think we’ve seen before.

    So protest is old and is honorable and is important; we must be allowed, in any system that calls itself democratic, to dissent. Increasingly, we have groups who are claiming to be emerging from this age-old culture of protest who are actually tamping out dissent, who are saying there are things that cannot be said, there are things that cannot be thought, there are research programs that cannot be done, and that’s dangerous, and it comes from a place of fear, and fear is very powerful evolutionarily. It rises to the top of the emotions when it shows up, and it’s hard to get through the fear with an argument that is rational. Emotion and rationality don’t tend to interface with one another very well, and some of the language that we’re hearing from the extremes on both sides of the political spectrum—I’m not sure that calling it a spectrum is really apt, but everyone is familiar with it.

    So the extremes on the right and on the left are both using fear to further polarize people, and the people on the right, the people on the far right, the extremists on the right are both, I think, a smaller group and better armed and thus in some ways more terrifying, but there are so many fewer of them that they don’t seem to have as much voice in society as the growing numbers of extremists on the left who are using words and increasingly, in the case of some of the groups, violent tactics.

    But they don’t tend to be armed in the way the extreme right is, and so it’s easy for people to imagine that they’re not as dangerous, but shutting down dissent, shutting down the ability to discuss ideas, is actually the beginning of the death of democracy.

    So why does it work? It works because since people have been social, which is to say since before people were people, since we were great apes and before that primates that weren’t great apes, and whatever social mammals came before that, we have been splintering into groups and watching out for our own. And it wasn’t just kin groups, it was kin groups and extended family, and then friends and family.

    But the tribes that we see forming now are able to garner more power because they can use modern technology to move into old, old circuits.

    So social media can be used to mobilize a group and to enrage a group, to inflame a group, where a town crier 500 years ago or a roving storyteller thousands of years ago might have brought news that would have alarmed a group of townspeople or a village or a hunter-gatherer tribe when they came together in their annual fusion event with lots and lots of tribes together, they might hear something that struck them as dangerous

    ~Transcript of evolutionary biologist Heather Heying from this video

    I think Buddhist wisdom calls on us to be humble in the face of a massively complex world. It's really hard to determine which levers and buttons to push, by fixing one problem will we create a worse problem?

    Hm. I do think that Buddhist compassion calls on us to recognize our common humanity and move away from tribalism. But when it comes to some of the things that Heather Heying says, I'm less in agreement.

    For one, I do think there are some things we shouldn't do or say, and some research that shouldn't be done. I don't think it makes one an extremist to say that the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, for example, was wrong and should never be repeated.

    I doubt that kind of thing is what she is referring to. I think she's probably talking about something similar to what Sam Harris was on about in his talk with Ezra Klien in that we should be able to do science on things like race or gender even if those with ill intent would use that for harm. Or like Sam suggested, if some sort of difference comes up as a side effect of research into DNA like neanderthal DNA being present in white people and not in black people. If the outcome of that was reversed you know the racists would jump on the fact, but because they would we shouldn't ban or shutdown research in these areas because we may find information that would be helpful, something akin to finding out sickle cell is more prevalent among black people allows us to offer better treatment.

    I also don't think things like shutting down nazis and white supremacists is equivalent to what nazis and white supremacists are trying to do, since they latter are using violence and intimidation to try and purge their society of anyone who isn't like them, which is usually straight, white, and Christian. Their entire philosophy itself is a violent threat to those unlike themselves, and I think history has clearly shown us the damage they can do when allowed to go relatively unchallenged, especially when the state is increasingly on their side.

    So long as it stays at that level it may be alright. The problem with shutting down speech is that the line tends to shift. There is a trend in college campuses to shut down any speech that is uncomfortable. Trying to get at truth requires thinking and talking about difficult topics and will almost always cause people to be uncomfortable and sometimes not just those who are comfortable but to those who have traditionally been oppressed and victimized.

    Sometimes, I think distinctions are important to make, and lines need to be drawn, because not all ideas and actions are equal. We might make some mistakes along the way and cause unintentional harm, but like Howard Zinn used to say, you can't be neutral on a moving train.

    I agree and it's a point well made. I'd just say in my opinion the far left is right on the line of going too far and it's important not only for what I see as morally right but for liberalism in general as overreach gives it's opponents ammunition and turns others away from the good ideas.

    lobsterJason
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited April 28

    @person said:
    I doubt that kind of thing is what she is referring to. I think she's probably talking about something similar to what Sam Harris was on about in his talk with Ezra Klien in that we should be able to do science on things like race or gender even if those with ill intent would use that for harm. Or like Sam suggested, if some sort of difference comes up as a side effect of research into DNA like neanderthal DNA being present in white people and not in black people. If the outcome of that was reversed you know the racists would jump on the fact, but because they would we shouldn't ban or shutdown research in these areas because we may find information that would be helpful, something akin to finding out sickle cell is more prevalent among black people allows us to offer better treatment.

    I don't know what she was referring to specifically, but my point was mainly that science isn't immune from politics, nor is it immune to being unethical, harmful, or going in the wrong direction. It wasn't all that long ago that eugenics, social darwinism, and experimenting on minorities were all the scientific rage. Also, some research can be biased and misleading, and then be utilized in ways that are harmful to certain segments of the population, as is the case with Murray's The Bell Curve, in my opinion. I suppose I'm simply wary of any person or discipline being given unlimited freedom and giving certain groups or ideas every platform they desire.

    So long as it stays at that level it may be alright. The problem with shutting down speech is that the line tends to shift. There is a trend in college campuses to shut down any speech that is uncomfortable. Trying to get at truth requires thinking and talking about difficult topics and will almost always cause people to be uncomfortable and sometimes not just those who are comfortable but to those who have traditionally been oppressed and victimized.

    I get your point, and it's definitely something I bounce back and forth on. Free speech is certainly something I think is of eminent importance. One of the problems with fascism, however, is that it doesn't care about, nor rely upon, truth. You can't reason away fascism. Fascism will use anything and everything, from truths, half-truths, and lies to pseudo-science (maybe some actual science?), humour, fear, and prejudice against the Other, anything, to propagate its ideas, increase its platform, gain followers and eventually power so that, ultimately, it can carry those ideas out. I think that means we, as citizens, have to be vigilant against fake news as much as white nationalist rallies. And while she criticizes both the left and the right, I see a clear distinction between the violence of self-defense and that of an oppressed group vs. the violence of those doing the oppressing. I don't think all violence is equal, and there are certain cases where we shouldn't be arguing there are some very fine people on both sides, like when one side supports ethnic cleansing.

    (Also, re: college campuses, free speech is one thing. Giving a platform to those who espouse racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. views is quite another, especially when they already have a plethora of public platforms already available to them such as book deals, multiple tv appearances, interviews, etc. Free speech ≠ speech free from consequences, nor does it guarantee venues for said speech.)

    VastmindNerida
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran
    edited April 28

    @Jason said:

    @person said:
    I doubt that kind of thing is what she is referring to. I think she's probably talking about something similar to what Sam Harris was on about in his talk with Ezra Klien in that we should be able to do science on things like race or gender even if those with ill intent would use that for harm. Or like Sam suggested, if some sort of difference comes up as a side effect of research into DNA like neanderthal DNA being present in white people and not in black people. If the outcome of that was reversed you know the racists would jump on the fact, but because they would we shouldn't ban or shutdown research in these areas because we may find information that would be helpful, something akin to finding out sickle cell is more prevalent among black people allows us to offer better treatment.

    I don't know what she was referring to specifically, but my point was mainly that science isn't immune from politics, nor is it immune to being unethical, harmful, or going in the wrong direction. It wasn't all that long ago that eugenics, social darwinism, and experimenting on minorities were all the scientific rage. Also, some research can be biased and misleading, and then be utilized in ways that are harmful to certain segments of the population, as is the case with Murray's The Bell Curve, in my opinion. I suppose I'm simply wary of any person or discipline being given unlimited freedom and giving certain groups or ideas every platform they desire.

    I don't know if you know Jonathan Haidt, he's a social scientist that researches morality. Anyway, he makes the point that sometimes the two important values of truth and justice are at odds with each other. So in the scenarios we're talking about this is the case and so determining which is the correct path is difficult. I err on the side of truth but it isn't an absolute stance, there are occasions that harm should be prevented. My argument in favor would be that better knowledge gives us better efficacy in empowering our values and I believe that on the whole people are good so in the short term truth can be used for ill intents but in the long run "the universe bends towards justice". On race specifically, racists could use research to promote their ideologies and even though it wasn't that long ago and racism isn't gone it is a different world and I feel pretty confident that racists wouldn't gain much traction. Especially if you consider that the majority of any research would probably show how alike we are and how blurry racial lines are, weakening the racists position.

    So long as it stays at that level it may be alright. The problem with shutting down speech is that the line tends to shift. There is a trend in college campuses to shut down any speech that is uncomfortable. Trying to get at truth requires thinking and talking about difficult topics and will almost always cause people to be uncomfortable and sometimes not just those who are comfortable but to those who have traditionally been oppressed and victimized.

    I get your point, and it's definitely something I bounce back and forth on. Free speech is certainly something I think is of eminent importance. One of the problems with fascism, however, is that it doesn't care about, nor rely upon, truth. You can't reason away fascism. Fascism will use anything and everything, from truths, half-truths, and lies to pseudo-science (maybe some actual science?), humour, fear, and prejudice against the Other, anything, to propagate its ideas, increase its platform, gain followers and eventually power so that, ultimately, it can carry those ideas out. I think that means we, as citizens, have to be vigilant against fake news as much as white nationalist rallies. And while she criticizes both the left and the right, I see a clear distinction between the violence of self-defense and that of an oppressed group vs. the violence of those doing the oppressing. I don't think all violence is equal, and there are certain cases where we shouldn't be arguing there are some very fine people on both sides, like when one side supports ethnic cleansing.

    (Also, re: college campuses, free speech is one thing. Giving a platform to those who espouse racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. views is quite another, especially when they already have a plethora of public platforms already available to them such as book deals, multiple tv appearances, interviews, etc. Free speech ≠ speech free from consequences, nor does it guarantee venues for said speech.)

    Maybe we'll have to agree to disagree. My approach would be to battle bad ideas with better ideas. There is a concept known as antifragility, where some system aren't just resilient against negative forces but actually get stronger by being exposed to them. So, I see the problem with shutting down certain ideas as being like sanitizing the environment from germs. If you make an environment too clean our immune system can't properly develop to protect people and we become more sensitive to smaller harms. Likewise, if you protect people from being exposed to obviously vile speech you don't allow people to build an immunity to bad ideas so if they get exposed to more mundane and not so obvious ideas like Murray's they're more likely to get drawn in. Edit: Maybe the better way to put it is protecting people from bad ideas makes them more vulnerable to them when they do hear them, exposure in context strengthens their resistance to them. Stephen Pinker says it better than I can.

    Edited to add: As a white man, I'm sure I'm not sensitive enough to the pain that people of color feel around race. In general my approach to life gives greater importance to the long term efficacy of a strategy over any short term pain. So maybe that is asking too much and a slower, more cautious approach to knowledge that is more sensitive to that pain is in order.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited April 28

    @person said:
    I don't know if you know Jonathan Haidt, he's a social scientist that researches morality. Anyway, he makes the point that sometimes the two important values of truth and justice are at odds with each other. So in the scenarios we're talking about this is the case and so determining which is the correct path is difficult. I err on the side of truth but it isn't an absolute stance, there are occasions that harm should be prevented. My argument in favor would be that better knowledge gives us better efficacy in empowering our values and I believe that on the whole people are good so in the short term truth can be used for ill intents but in the long run "the universe bends towards justice". On race specifically, racists could use research to promote their ideologies and even though it wasn't that long ago and racism isn't gone it is a different world and I feel pretty confident that racists wouldn't gain much traction. Especially if you consider that the majority of any research would probably show how alike we are and how blurry racial lines are, weakening the racists position.

    I'm not super familiar with him, but I'll take a look at the video.

    As for things like racism, I wish they were in our rearview mirror, but they're not, and open racism in particular is actually making a strong comeback. A look at the rise of racist policies, rhetoric, graffiti, and violence in the US and Europe should be proof enough. Trump may not have won the popular vote, but his anti-immigrant racism has a solid populist base here, and is mirrored by the rise of far-right candidates and parties all across Europe. And racists are feeling more and more emboldened by each victory, no matter how symbolic. And despite the science of racism being all but discredited at this point, it hasn't stopped the far-right from simply turned towards things like culture and otherness to continue fueling this resurgence of racism. From increased ICE raids breaking up families and our general treatment of immigrants and Muslims to our police's treatment of black Americans and the glaring disparities in pay and mortality rates for black citizens, racism is still in full force.

    (I'm on my phone on a bus, but can dig up some really troubling statistics and articles backing all the above if needed.)

    Maybe we'll have to agree to disagree. My approach would be to battle bad ideas with better ideas. There is a concept known as antifragility, where some system aren't just resilient against negative forces but actually get stronger by being exposed to them. So, I see the problem with shutting down certain ideas as being like sanitizing the environment from germs. If you make an environment too clean our immune system can't properly develop to protect people and we become more sensitive to smaller harms. Likewise, if you protect people from being exposed to obviously vile speech you don't allow people to build an immunity to bad ideas so if they get exposed to more mundane and not so obvious ideas like Murray's they're more likely to get drawn in. Stephen Pinker says it better than I can.

    Edited to add: As a white man, I'm sure I'm not sensitive enough to the pain that people of color feel around race. In general my approach to life gives greater importance to the long term efficacy of a strategy over any short term pain. So maybe that is asking too much and a slower, more cautious approach to knowledge that is more sensitive to that pain is in order.

    Maybe this is one area where we differ too much to agree. I'll just say that I'm not saying we need to sanitize the world of certain ideas, like we're just fragile snowflakes that can't handle things we don't like to hear. I'm talking on the the one hand about not giving certain ideas equal footing and access to every platform desired (like allowing nazis to speak at every university campus they want), and on the other making the world safe for everyone. The solution to antisemitism, for example, isn't to let Jewish people be confronted with it everywhere in society until they, and us, develop an immunity. That's not how it works. What actually happens is discrimination, persecution, and pogroms. Certain things have to be actively combated, and fascism is definitely one of them.

    P.S. I know you mean well, but I'd strongly yet respectfully urge you to be more sensitive towards people of colour in glossing over their 'short term pain' of living with racism on a daily basis in favour of a 'things will eventually work out' mentality. It's well past time we, as a society, started putting things right. Black Lives Matter is just one expression of their cries for justice, and I really think we should be listening and doing what we can to help. MLK's lament re: the white moderate comes to mind here.

    VastmindNerida
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @Jason said:

    Maybe we'll have to agree to disagree. My approach would be to battle bad ideas with better ideas. There is a concept known as antifragility, where some system aren't just resilient against negative forces but actually get stronger by being exposed to them. So, I see the problem with shutting down certain ideas as being like sanitizing the environment from germs. If you make an environment too clean our immune system can't properly develop to protect people and we become more sensitive to smaller harms. Likewise, if you protect people from being exposed to obviously vile speech you don't allow people to build an immunity to bad ideas so if they get exposed to more mundane and not so obvious ideas like Murray's they're more likely to get drawn in. Stephen Pinker says it better than I can.

    Edited to add: As a white man, I'm sure I'm not sensitive enough to the pain that people of color feel around race. In general my approach to life gives greater importance to the long term efficacy of a strategy over any short term pain. So maybe that is asking too much and a slower, more cautious approach to knowledge that is more sensitive to that pain is in order.

    Maybe this is one area where we differ too much to agree. I'll just say that I'm not saying we need to sanitize the world of certain ideas, like we're just fragile snowflakes that can't handle things we don't like to hear. I'm talking on the the one hand about not giving certain ideas equal footing and access to every platform desired (like allowing nazis to speak at every university campus they want), and on the other making the world safe for everyone. The solution to antisemitism, for example, isn't to let Jewish people be confronted with it everywhere in society until they, and us, develop an immunity. That's not how it works. What actually happens is discrimination, persecution, and pogroms. Certain things have to be actively combated, and fascism is definitely one of them.

    I'm not against combating discrimination, I'm worried about taking it too far. Deplatforming doesn't stop at nazis, a Richard Dawkins speech was cancelled because of past comments about Islam., Richard Dawkins isn't about spreading hate and has lots of other valuable things to say. And I see that you're not against sanitizing the world of certain ideas, but others are

    P.S. I know you mean well, but I'd strongly yet respectfully urge you to be more sensitive towards people of colour in glossing over their 'short term pain' of living with racism on a daily basis in favour of a 'things will eventually work out' mentality. It's well past time we, as a society, started putting things right. Black Lives Matter is just one expression of their cries for justice, and I really think we should be listening and doing what we can to help. MLK's lament re: the white moderate comes to mind here.

    That's a fair enough point. I would just say that I'm not being blatantly insensitive in my day to day life, saying things like "get over it" or something. I was talking specifically about scientific research.

    In general I'm supportive of liberal goals. I often don't agree with the methods and language, it feels to me like they are only talking to the choir and don't understand or care about how non liberals see the world.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited April 28

    @person said:
    I'm not against combating discrimination, I'm worried about taking it too far. Deplatforming doesn't stop at nazis, a Richard Dawkins speech was cancelled because of past comments about Islam., Richard Dawkins isn't about spreading hate and has lots of other valuable things to say. And I see that you're not against sanitizing the world of certain ideas, but others are

    And he's free to say those things almost anywhere else, via books, TV appearances, print interviews, other campuses and public venues, etc. I don't think he's being oppressed or his views sanitized just because one of his speaking engagements was cancelled.

    In general I'm supportive of liberal goals. I often don't agree with the methods and language, it feels to me like they are only talking to the choir and don't understand or care about how non liberals see the world.

    Again, I recommend taking the time to reflect on MLK's words, which are just as relevant today as they were in 1963:

    I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

    I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran
    edited April 28

    @Jason said:

    @person said:
    I'm not against combating discrimination, I'm worried about taking it too far. Deplatforming doesn't stop at nazis, a Richard Dawkins speech was cancelled because of past comments about Islam., Richard Dawkins isn't about spreading hate and has lots of other valuable things to say. And I see that you're not against sanitizing the world of certain ideas, but others are

    And he's free to say those things almost anywhere else, via books, TV appearances, print interviews, other campuses and public venues, etc. I don't think he's being oppressed or his views sanitized just because one of his speaking engagements was cancelled.

    And the same holds true of nazis, so how much does deplatforming accomplish?

    In general I'm supportive of liberal goals. I often don't agree with the methods and language, it feels to me like they are only talking to the choir and don't understand or care about how non liberals see the world.

    Again, I recommend taking the time to reflect on MLK's words, which are just as relevant today as they were in 1963:

    I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

    I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

    @Vastmind I know this touches you personally, so I apologize for any offense given.

    I've read it. I'm not against civil disobedience to raise awareness, I'm talking about something else. And I'm not sure that race relations in the 60s are equivalent to today, implicit racism is more at issue now rather than the explicit racism of then and is a stickier issue which may require a different approach.

    I wonder about something like the use of the word privilege in convincing a conservative to change their mind. When I began to learn about white privilege, my intuitive reaction was to feel fortunate for the benefits I have and then I had the desire to extend those advantages to those who don't have them. So if I get the benefit of the doubt in getting a loan or more business opportunities because there are more white people with money to hire me and tribalism is a deep seated human trait or more mundane things like bandaids matching my skin color. These aren't things that should be taken away from white people, they are things that should be granted to people of color. Aung San Suu Kyi was once asked after gaining her freedom, if she wanted to bring the generals down, she responded, "No, I want to bring them up."

    Currently I've been thinking about the distinction between the words privilege and fortunate. I think one has a positive connotation and the other a negative depending on ones position. If I'm fortunate to have the benefits of white skin, that sort of implies someone of color has disadvantages which from their point of view is disempowering. If I'm privileged then that word is more empowering for a person of color, but if the absence of privilege is meant to be a neutral state then that thinking tends to imply disadvantage is normal.

    Then there is the conservative mind set, working with an individual's mind set rather than against it I would think would bring about better results.
    Liberals draw a large in-group circle, while for conservatives group loyalty is an important quality that promotes group cohesion, albeit with historically tragic outcomes in cross cultural situations. However, that means when you racialize the discussion to make people more aware of race distinctions, that helps more liberal people, who are already widely inclusive, to notice the problems around race. When you use the same strategy with a conservative reminding them of race only strengthens the tendency to otherize people. Conservatives need to be reminded of our common humanity to bring them along.

    Also, (just thinking aloud here) I'm not so sure telling a "manly" man that they need to give up their power and privilege is going to work very well, it might be more efficacious to remind them of the power that being in the majority and at the head of institutions provides them and remind them that with power comes responsibility. Alpha males in social animal packs are usually pro social and are concerned with protecting and providing for the group.

    Conservatives also value fairness close to as much as liberals but to them fairness means fairness in opportunity, where to liberals it means fairness in outcome. So since white privilege means opportunities aren't fair for people of color, arguing that to a conservative will get more traction than arguing people of color should have equality in outcome and will move the goal along easier.

    https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/04/conservatives-live-different-moral-universe8212and-heres-why-it-matters/

    Or maybe none of that is possible and they just need to be defeated and thrown into the dustbin of history, but don't expect them to go quietly. I don't know that outright conflict changes peoples hearts, which should be the goal, so much as victory enforces behavioral quiescence and drives racism underground. And since much of the problem today, as opposed to the 60s is implicit racism rather than explicit, changing peoples hearts IMO should be what matters.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited April 28

    @person .... I appreciate the nod. =) .

    Unfortunately, right now, I’m of the mindset that without the experience...it’s almost impossible for the average white person to understand it. To feel it. The world is different to and around me when I’m by myself as opposed to with my hubby and kids. It can vary from subtle to right in my face. I will say...the younger generations seem to relate bec their friend base is more mixed, families are now more diverse, etc......depending on location, of course ;) .
    So they are experiencing these things for themselves.
    Privilege is the right word. 9 times out of 10, you’re going to be given the benefit of the doubt just bec you’re white. That’s a privilege....Whether you know it or not. It’s hard to explain...

    The politics here have left me feeling pretty pessimistic lately.

    Jasonperson
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited April 28

    A. When it comes to nazis, I think we need to do more than just 'deplatforming,' as you call. I think we disagree here, but I'm very much on the side of antifa on this one.

    B. As someone on the left, I very much see fairness in terms of opportunity, which is why I've said in previous discussions that I support "the de-privatization (i.e., socialization) of opportunity and the weakening of class antagonisms and hierarchies arising out of social relations unique to capitalism and other predominately exploitative systems." This, I think, lies at the heart of equality.

    C. While I truly appreciate the sentiment of what she said and once looked up to her, Aung San Suu Kyi is currently supporting/remaining silent about ethnic cleansing in Burma being carried out by those very same generals; and I think the privilege given to the Burmese Buddhists vs. the Rohingya is similar to that given to white people vs. people of colour throughout much of modern history. We need to uproot the institutional racism and tear down the institutional structures that support things like this. Now, not later.

    D. I see racism as being both explicit and implicit in today's society. We have a racist president who routinely says racist things and implements racist policies. We have Steve Bannon rallying far-right racists in Europe. We have nazis having rallies, marches, and burning swastikas in our own cities. We have nazis winning primaries in congressional races. We have police killing unarmed black men at alarming rates. I don't know how much more explicit it needs to be to be 'explicit.' And while I agree that we should seek to change people's hearts and minds, I also think we need to change the social structures and institutions that perpetuate its existence and expression.

    E. I'd like to pause and say that I don't have all the answers, but I think the first three paragraphs of the foreword by Thich Nhat Hanh to No Beginning, No End beautifully sum up how I think Buddhism can help us approach these problems and politics in general:

    It has been said that the twenty-first century is going to be a century of spirituality. If it is not a century of spirituality, there will be very difficult times ahead for all of us and for the generations to come. If we are not able to stop and look more deeply at the suffering in ourselves, how will we be able to address the suffering in the world around us? In order for us to transform our own suffering, we must do something radical.

    The first radical thing we can do to transform the suffering in ourselves is to practice stopping (shamatha). We stop in order to return to ourselves, to become calm. When we are calm, we have a better chance to see our suffering more clearly. The second radical act is to look deeply inside ourselves and see our suffering, be with our suffering, in order to understand and transform it. This is also true for the suffering in the world. We as entire nations need to stop and look deeply at the suffering in the world in order to see it more clearly without prejudice and understand how to transform it.

    The practice of mindfulness in these troubled times is more important than ever. If we as individuals do not take the time to practice mindfulness, not only will it be difficult to transform the suffering in our own lives, but it will be difficult to transform the suffering in the world. It is vital to ourselves, our children, and the Earth that we have a practice that helps us to be mindful, that lets us come back to ourselves and dwell in the present moment in order to transform suffering in ourselves and others around us.

    It's what I try to do, and what inspired me to try and address and ultimately transform the suffering I see in the world in the first place. Part of that is trying to transform myself. Part of that is trying to transform the hearts and minds of others. And part of that is trying to transform the material conditions that are helping to give rise to that suffering and prevent that transformation.

    Vastmind
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @Vastmind said:
    @person .... I appreciate the nod. =) .

    Unfortunately, right now, I’m of the mindset that without the experience...it’s almost impossible for the average white person to understand it. To feel it. The world is different to and around me when I’m by myself as opposed to with my hubby and kids. It can vary from subtle to right in my face. I will say...the younger generations seem to relate bec their friend base is more mixed, families are now more diverse, etc......depending on location, of course ;) .
    So they are experiencing these things for themselves.
    Privilege is the right word. 9 times out of 10, you’re going to be given the benefit of the doubt just bec you’re white. That’s a privilege....Whether you know it or not. It’s hard to explain...

    The politics here have left me feeling pretty pessimistic lately.

    :hugs:

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran
    edited April 28

    @Vastmind said:
    Privilege is the right word. 9 times out of 10, you’re going to be given the benefit of the doubt just bec you’re white. That’s a privilege....Whether you know it or not. It’s hard to explain...

    I honestly think I'm hearing you, I have advantages being white that others don't. I just don't see why that (the individual privileges) are seen as bad things. Shouldn't we want everyone to be given the benefit of the doubt? What am I missing?

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @person said:

    @Vastmind said:
    Privilege is the right word. 9 times out of 10, you’re going to be given the benefit of the doubt just bec you’re white. That’s a privilege....Whether you know it or not. It’s hard to explain...

    I honestly think I'm hearing you, I have advantages being white that others don't. I just don't see why that (the individual privileges) are seen as bad things. Shouldn't we want everyone to be given the benefit of the doubt? What am I missing?

    Right, so I looked up the definition of privilege and most of the definitions defined the word as requiring an unequal distribution of benefits. In that sense privilege is bad.

    When I hear that word and it connotes a condition (unequal benefits) that I have my reaction is to want others to have it. So it's a misunderstanding on my part, when it is implied or said that I shouldn't have that privilege what I hear is that I shouldn't be given the benefit of the doubt.

    Vastmind
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited April 28

    ^^ Exactly. That seems to be a common misunderstanding.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited April 29

    @person said:

    @Vastmind said:
    Privilege is the right word. 9 times out of 10, you’re going to be given the benefit of the doubt just bec you’re white. That’s a privilege....Whether you know it or not. It’s hard to explain...

    I honestly think I'm hearing you, I have advantages being white that others don't. I just don't see why that (the individual privileges) are seen as bad things. Shouldn't we want everyone to be given the benefit of the doubt? What am I missing?

    I think one of the things you're missing is that many people don't enjoy those privileges, and that lack negatively affects their quality of life on a daily basis. Yes, we want all people to be paid equally, treated equally, etc., but they're not. Things like white supremacy and patriarchy have created a situation in which these disparities have arisen and are perpetuated. It can be difficult to understand when you're not the one at risk of getting paid less, being given a harsher jail sentence, being shot in your grandparents' backyard, walking down the street, or driving home, or being kicked out of a place simply due to the colour of your skin. But that's the case for much of black America. It's like winning the lottery every day you wake up; for them, losing. Instead of having such privileges existing, what we want is equality, not only of opportunity but of treatment under the law and in our daily lives. It may seem like something is being taken away from you when you don't see it from their POV, but nothing is actually being taken away. Rather, things like greater dignity, equity, and security are being given.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @Jason said:

    E. I'd like to pause and say that I don't have all the answers, but I think the first three paragraphs of the foreword by Thich Nhat Hanh to No Beginning, No End beautifully sum up how I think Buddhism can help us approach these problems and politics in general:

    It has been said that the twenty-first century is going to be a century of spirituality. If it is not a century of spirituality, there will be very difficult times ahead for all of us and for the generations to come. If we are not able to stop and look more deeply at the suffering in ourselves, how will we be able to address the suffering in the world around us? In order for us to transform our own suffering, we must do something radical.

    The first radical thing we can do to transform the suffering in ourselves is to practice stopping (shamatha). We stop in order to return to ourselves, to become calm. When we are calm, we have a better chance to see our suffering more clearly. The second radical act is to look deeply inside ourselves and see our suffering, be with our suffering, in order to understand and transform it. This is also true for the suffering in the world. We as entire nations need to stop and look deeply at the suffering in the world in order to see it more clearly without prejudice and understand how to transform it.

    The practice of mindfulness in these troubled times is more important than ever. If we as individuals do not take the time to practice mindfulness, not only will it be difficult to transform the suffering in our own lives, but it will be difficult to transform the suffering in the world. It is vital to ourselves, our children, and the Earth that we have a practice that helps us to be mindful, that lets us come back to ourselves and dwell in the present moment in order to transform suffering in ourselves and others around us.

    It's what I try to do, and what inspired me to try and address and ultimately transform the suffering I see in the world in the first place. Part of that is trying to transform myself. Part of that is trying to transform the hearts and minds of others. And part of that is trying to transform the material conditions that are helping to give rise to that suffering and prevent that transformation.

    Like I said, I think I generally agree with the goals but, not so much disagree with your methods, but think there are different ways to make a difference. I tried being more of an activist when I was younger, but I honestly don't have the temperament for it. I'm much more inclined towards something like a philosopher or an educator. If it were all up to people like me to make a difference we'd all be endlessly stuck in a room saying "what about this point, did we ever consider this idea?" and nothing would get done. I've heard it said that unless I am actively opposed to oppression, I am a collaborator. Frankly, I'm close with my extended, moderately conservative family and spend half a dozen or so days with them a year and interact with them on facebook, if you tell me I need to ruin family gatherings or ostracize myself from my main social support or I'm a racist, you've lost me from the start.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Vastmind said:
    Privilege is the right word. 9 times out of 10, you’re going to be given the benefit of the doubt just bec you’re white. That’s a privilege....Whether you know it or not. It’s hard to explain...

    I honestly think I'm hearing you, I have advantages being white that others don't. I just don't see why that (the individual privileges) are seen as bad things. Shouldn't we want everyone to be given the benefit of the doubt? What am I missing?

    I think one of the things you're missing is that many people don't enjoy those privileges, and that lack negatively affects their quality of life on a daily basis. Yes, we want all people to be paid, treated equally, etc., but they're not. Things like white supremacy and patriarchy have created a situation in which these disparities have arisen and are perpetuated. It can be difficult to understand when you're not the one at risk of getting paid less, being given a harsher jail sentence, being shot in your grandparents' backyard, walking down the street, or driving home, or being kicked out of a place simply due to the colour of your skin. But that's the case for much of black America. It's like winning the lottery every day you wake up; for them, losing. Instead of having such privileges existing, what we want is equality, not only of opportunity but of treatment under the law and in our daily lives. It may seem like something is being taken away from you when you don't see it from their POV, but nothing is actually being taken away. Rather, things like greater dignity, equity, and security are being given.

    Yes, that is the assumption, that I don't see the inequality if I'm not fully educated on all the definitions. My next post pointed to the fact that it wasn't the idea that I didn't get it was the language.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited April 29

    @person said:
    I've heard it said that unless I am actively opposed to oppression, I am a collaborator. Frankly, I'm close with my extended, moderately conservative family and spend half a dozen or so days with them a year and interact with them on facebook, if you tell me I need to ruin family gatherings or ostracize myself from my main social support or I'm a racist, you've lost me from the start.

    Well, I don't recall saying any of that, so I hope I haven't lost you yet.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited April 29

    @person .... I can appreciate your honesty...and love how open you are to the discussion.

    Umm....I certainly don’t advocate for cutting the family off or preaching to a brick wall. ...but you also don’t have to co sign or laugh at inappropriate things that are said umongst white people. If you know what I mean. And I think you do.

    Activism? I can’t talk....I’m not doing much now a days, either. I’m leaving it to the young cats, haha. It’s tough....to ask yourself...what can I do? I feel you on that....

    Don’t take your privilege for granted...and speak up when you see someone else paying the cost for it.

    person
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @Jason said:

    @person said:
    I've heard it said that unless I am actively opposed to oppression, I am a collaborator. Frankly, I'm close with my extended, moderately conservative family and spend half a dozen or so days with them a year and interact with them on facebook, if you tell me I need to ruin family gatherings or ostracize myself from my main social support or I'm a racist, you've lost me from the start.

    Well, I don't recall saying any of that, so I hope I haven't lost you yet.

    You haven't said those words, but - that - seems - to be the - consensus view - among - activists

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited April 29

    Jeesh, you can’t listen to the entire world about what you should be doing...you can only do what you can do. Little droplets of water make a mighty ocean. :)

    By paying attention to YOUR approach, thoughts and actions on this, you’re not staying neutral.

    Tell ‘em i said so!

    personlobsterJason
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @Vastmind said:
    Jeesh, you can’t listen to the entire world about what you should be doing...you can only do what you can do. Little droplets of water make a mighty ocean. :)

    By paying attention to YOUR approach, thoughts and actions on this, you’re not staying neutral.

    Tell ‘em i said so!

    Thanks for the kind words and generous spirit.

    Vastmindlobster
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @person said:
    I've heard it said that unless I am actively opposed to oppression, I am a collaborator. Frankly, I'm close with my extended, moderately conservative family and spend half a dozen or so days with them a year and interact with them on facebook, if you tell me I need to ruin family gatherings or ostracize myself from my main social support or I'm a racist, you've lost me from the start.

    Well, I don't recall saying any of that, so I hope I haven't lost you yet.

    You haven't said those words, but - that - seems - to be the - consensus view - among - activists

    So is that what you hear me saying/take away from my contributions here?

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @person said:
    I've heard it said that unless I am actively opposed to oppression, I am a collaborator. Frankly, I'm close with my extended, moderately conservative family and spend half a dozen or so days with them a year and interact with them on facebook, if you tell me I need to ruin family gatherings or ostracize myself from my main social support or I'm a racist, you've lost me from the start.

    Well, I don't recall saying any of that, so I hope I haven't lost you yet.

    You haven't said those words, but - that - seems - to be the - consensus view - among - activists

    So is that what you hear me saying/take away from my contributions here?

    It could be just my own misperceptions, but if I'm being honest, I get the sense that you belong to that group and probably also hold those views. If I'm wrong I apologize, are you saying then that you disagree with the sentiment that if I'm not an active part of the solution I am a defacto part of the problem and a collaborator to oppression?

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited April 29

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @person said:
    I've heard it said that unless I am actively opposed to oppression, I am a collaborator. Frankly, I'm close with my extended, moderately conservative family and spend half a dozen or so days with them a year and interact with them on facebook, if you tell me I need to ruin family gatherings or ostracize myself from my main social support or I'm a racist, you've lost me from the start.

    Well, I don't recall saying any of that, so I hope I haven't lost you yet.

    You haven't said those words, but - that - seems - to be the - consensus view - among - activists

    So is that what you hear me saying/take away from my contributions here?

    It could be just my own misperceptions, but if I'm being honest, I get the sense that you belong to that group and probably also hold those views. If I'm wrong I apologize, are you saying then that you disagree with the sentiment that if I'm not an active part of the solution I am a defacto part of the problem and a collaborator to oppression?

    Well, that makes me sad, but I can't control people's perceptions of me and the kind of person I am. I think I'd rather have you aware of these issues and working to help fix them than not. I think the more of us working on them the better. Make of that what you want.

    lobsterperson
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