This entry comes from my interest in the political primary and my obsessive media junkie nature. I listen to Air America, as well as C-Span and Democracy Now, oh and Kieth Olbermann too. Well, as I think about it the list goes on and on, hence "junkie".
I am very interested in the tone that the primary has taken in the last few weeks. Hillary and Barack are sparring much more, which is to be expected in the rundown to picking the presumptive candidate. What is more interesting to me is the tone that has emerged from supporters I listen to making calls, particularly on Sam Seders show. Sam and Marc Maron are calling these supporters Clintonista's. People will call in with vigilante zeal, trying to defame Barack by talking about his Muslim roots, or his involvement with less than ethical donors. They seem to be incapable of conversation, speaking over the host and not answering the hosts questions. It sound as if they are robots who have been turned on who have to get the message out. They accuse the host, Sam in this instance, of trashing Hillary, when I know that that has not happened (I am a junkie , remember and I listen every day he is on air). It seems they need to be right at any cost.
So this got me to thinking and it took me back to the time when I used to lead groups of men who had been arrested for domestic violence. My sense of them was that for the most part, they were unskilled in relationship and took the lazy mans approach and pushed and shoved rather than reasoned with their partner. Of course there were some men who came into the group that literally made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. These men were truly dangerous sociopaths who really did not belong in group, they belonged in jail.
As part of my training I attended seminars which focused on "the victim". The seminars were lead by women who very much reminded me of the "Clintonistas" I listen to on Air America. These women were scary. They had taken on a vigilante zeal with regard to the abuser. In fact, as I listened, I started to feel at least oppressed and at times abused. When I challenged one women with a question she responded with attack and character assasination. This did not feel so good to me. I did not like this woman and I did not feel that she was good for the woman's rights movement she was a part of.
Here is how I explain this to myself. It requires understanding the dynamic as a paradigm. The paradigm is "Victim/Perpetrator". In this paradigm you can only be one or the other. A woman is victimized and in order for her to take charge in her life within the paradigm she must then take on the role of the perpetrator. This is a false kind of empowerment which only perpetuates the problem. Both roles in the paradigm lack autonomy and compassion. Both lack true "power". The power in the paradigm is power over, rather than power to be.
Back to the political scene. Now that Clinton is the underdog in the race, some supporters feel that it is their mission to save her and make her the top dog in any way possible. This really is like a fight where spit and feathers fly. Attacks can be unfair and specious. It does not matter because now Barack has become the bad guy who has power over Hillary and that is just wrong. This is a very authoritarian paradigm as you might well imagine.
Now a little bit about Buddhism and the above drama. My reaction to the "spit and feathers" is sorrow. If I was inside the paradigm, my reaction would be anger and outrage. But I choose not to be inside that paradigm. I choose compassion over power over. The only way one can become enlightened is to change the paradigm of victim/perpetrator. We must always consider the 10 Virtues as we communicate. If we are not virtuous in our communication, then we generate bad karma which will have a consequence to us in the very long run of life after life. All beings deserve to be treated with respect and kindness even when they are inside the victim/perpetrator paradigm. We do not enable them to offend, but most importantly we do not offend in kind. We practice loving kindness in a skilled way. I actually see Barack doing this in response to Hillary's attacks. He seems to hold himself above the fray. He defends his positions with dignity when he disagrees. He does not waver in his positions and when he is in agreement, he is very concilliatory, which some perceive as weakness. I see Barack as being strong like Ghandi was strong or like Martin Luther King was strong.
Could it be that those who perceive weakness are inside the victim/perpetrator paradigm?
A wonderful example of strength, skill and compassion comes from the Dalai Lama. When asked how a well publicized meeting with George W. Bush went, the Dalai Lama's reply was, "he had wonderful cookies"………..