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The Squirming Buddha


The Squirming Buddha

Robert C. Koehler

The world hemorrhages. Refugees flow from its wounds.

Is there a way to be innocent of this?

People are washed ashore. They die of suffocation in humanity-stuffed trucks. They flee war and politics; they flee starvation. And finally, we don’t even have sufficient air for them to breathe.

For words to matter about all this, they have to express more than “concern” or even outrage – that is to say, they have to cut internally as well as externally. They have to cut into our own lives and personal comfort. They have to cut as deep as prayer.



We’re so small, and the world so large, and its problems so many…

Let the dialogue include a sober examination of socialism as remedy for our individual limitations. Let’s think of socialism as the means by which neighbor can reach across the miles to help neighbor; when government becomes the means by which we act out our most kindly impulses; when our innate sense of generosity transforms itself from individual “charity” into a strategy for mutual survival leading to prosperity and compassion for all.



We are subjected to highly manipulated images and language, which we have named ‘propaganda’ taken from - to propagate. It is not just content, but a matter of event(s) unfolding over time, which means it is also a highly manipulated process.

We tend to disregard the stunningly strict codes for acceptable language, how readily they codify a division according to cultural pigeonholing.

Language is perhaps the single most powerful instrument we have for leverage. Both listening and really HEARING what is intended by propagandists ( remembering that it is both process and content= context).

Buddhists and Quakers place considerable value on cultivating the clear heart reality of silence. We are not perfect, and we certainly are not “great” as in the MAGA propaganda. Humility is a strength unlike any other - to experience it, live it. Virtually all spiritual traditions recognize this. We have to start with ourselves and the task never ends.

I also find some of the observations by the late Terrance McKenna worth considering. Heres for when you
have a chance to kick back - in case you might be interested.



Great reflections in this article.
Yes and yes, please do contribute to charity! But charity, we know without doubt, has not and will not resolve the unnecessary suffering of so many millions. Make sure that charity is not carrying extremist ideological baggage to pedal with its recipients. Why support such extremism when contributing to the organization promotes the politics that ensures millions more will suffer needlessly?
Please do use the greatest force you have - the language to push our politics to accept responsibility for its creations! Politics, and the economy it creates, are fabrications of human choices. We can choose to operate differently, and choosing to foster equality and care for everyone IS in everyone’s best interests, economic and otherwise.



I love the Mayan greeting ‘In Lak’ech’- akin to ‘I am another yourself’. Then there is ubuntu - ‘I am because you are’. And the Guarani greeting - Aguyjevete -’ in perpetual spiritual refinement’

yup - face to face affirmations of love and responsibility for all. And over 500 years of this being referred to as ‘savage’. projection a little? yup.



I have been fortunate in my life. I had wonderful loving parents who taught me to love and respect all others. Not hate and division.

Several times in my life, when I saw someone clearly in need, I opened my wallet and removed a 20 or a 50 and said, “I’d like to give you more, but I want you to have this.”

When I witness our government allocating Trillions of dollars for the very few who have no need for it, and totally overlooking the many who have nothing, I am ashamed of myself for living in a country that allows this to happen.

New Don Caron.



No time, huh? What did you do for Thanksgiving Dinner? Christmas Dinner? Why not take your family and friends to your local soup kitchen? You’ll get a free meal! Which you can eat with the guests. And next time you see them on the street, say hello. Just being given that dignity is a great thing.
Does your town have an ESL program? Yes? Volunteer. If you’re very busy, do a phone-in. No program? Start one.
Raining? Bring an extra umbrella and give it away.
See regulars on the street? Figure out their size and see what you have at home that fits…
Does your company need any help? Maybe you even can find a job for somebody. Sweeping a storefront sidewalk is worth something once in a while.
Once you meet people, you will figure out what you can do. Afraid the person is a druggie? OK, don’t take him home, but maybe he can sweep your storefront once a week.

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I’m new here, and don’t often comment on forums, but I’ve been reading, and contributing to CommonDreams, when I am able, for many years now and I’ve always found these forums polite, as has been the earlier comments in this thread.

I write because I work for a large public library system in an urban setting in a major west coast city. Many of the libraries that I work in have very high immigrant populations, a high incidence of folks without housing combined with the untreated mentally ill. It is emotionally challenging work, heart rending at times, and yet I am also hopeful at many of the signs of change that I am seeing.

Tonight at the branch I worked at we had our weekly Amharic Story Time. There were at least 50 attendees, all singing and laughing and telling stories in their native language. Another of the branches in our system hosts a Somalian Story Time. But we have people from every country imaginable, and I am so aware of how much fear they must be in. I have had coworkers and patrons who have told me horrible tales of abuse from right wing racists, and the razor wire cuts deep.

And so, as a fellow human being, I go out of my way to be kind and open and honest and welcoming to these people who have endured so very much to get here. I look them in the eye, tell them how glad we are to have them as a patron and that they are free to ask us for any type of help they might need. We cannot always fulfill these requests, but we try to the best of our ability. This is actually a stated policy and mission of the system that I work for. We offer free citizenship classes, ESL classes, informal talk times and many other services. I am always amazed at the optimism, the happiness, the joy that so many of our immigrant patrons display, when, again, they face so much hatred and uncertainty. Of course this is not true for every person of any group, but I dearly love my immigrant patrons and co-workers. A co-worker has a poster in our backroom of three colorful women of different ethnicities with the caption “We will defend each other”. I wept when I first saw it.

I also, with my meager salary, once quite a good salary until rents doubled for most people in a matter of a few years, still donate to a wide variety of causes and groups but a portion goes to journals such as Common Dreams, and my local public radio station. I have never found that I suffered from my generosity, and so many benefits. So I do not live in the lap of luxury, but I have rarely been in want of a meal.

In the coming struggles that we as communities, as nations, as the world will surely face, it will be our ability to support each other that will determine the future of our species. Let us hope that we find the way.

I would also like to thank all of the previous commenters for some excellent commentary. They have provided me with much to think about and act on.



Welcome Stan. Feel free to express yourself on any issue. Most commenters here at Common Dreams are thoughtful, compassionate folks.

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I would also add namaste which roughly means: the divine in me, bows to the divine in you.

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