Swans Commentary » swans.com July 31, 2006  



Other Ponds


by Milo Clark





(Swans - July 31, 2006)   The Bush administration has adopted the worst possible combination of policies regarding Taiwan. On one hand, the administration is pressuring a sister democracy to abstain from exercising some of its important democratic prerogatives. On the other hand, Washington renewed its pledge to protect Taiwan's security. In taking these actions, the administration has compromised its moral position while still exposing the United States to the needless risk of military conflict.

Although it is imprudent for the United States to pledge to defend Taiwan, it is equally inappropriate for Washington to tell Taiwan what its policies ought to be.

Advocates of physical causes for mental illness recommended bloodletting, cold-water immersion, and various tonics and medications (primarily opium and opium derivatives) as treatments... Part of the treatment, then, was to place mentally ill patients in a mental asylum. To simplify management, many of these patients were restrained in straight jackets or manacles and chains.

To President George W. Bush:

Sir, I must tell you, because you do not appear to know, compassion is the most important thing, the only thing that really, really matters. If you were truly a man of God, I would not need to inform you.

Everything is in flames, in the flame of violence, in the flame of egoism, in the flame of war and hatred. We must save ourselves from the fire.

Buddha, like Jesus, forbid inharmonious, evil thoughts, for if we have harmony in our thoughts then consequently we have also harmony in our actions.

In conflict, if we make others responsible for our suffering, rather than taking responsibility for it ourselves, the conflict will most likely not be resolved, and it will probably escalate: taking the form of violence and aggression.

We don't have to live in violence.

If we really want to live differently, we can. It is not a question of politics but of actions. It is not a matter of improving the political system or correcting social injustice. These are valuable but will not end war and suffering. I know that I can practice peace by being peace.

The Nipponese have perfected a way of peace embodied in objects. It is crudely appearing to some, purposely haphazard. From Buddhism perhaps, all things are seen as impermanent, incomplete, imperfect. Greatness can be coaxed from the overlooked, inconspicuous, earthy, natural, murky and simple. It is called wabi-sabi. A home is in classic tea ceremony.

Today, is insane the only sane way to be?

The progressions above move from the ridiculous to the sublime, from the general to the specific. From the mind boggling to the mundane.

If any we (fill in the blank) can find compassion and the wisdom associated therewith, the components of that we, its peoples, me, anyhow, will know how to be peace and to live within it. Challenge: Be Peace!

All struggle, in some way, with that puzzle. If I can use my resources wisely, I will have enough. If I can see beauty in simplicity, I will live in beauty, Dineh style, too. If I can see the Buddha or the Christ or Moses or Mohammed in everyone, I will be secure, safe and trusting.

Ted Galen Carpenter works at the Cato Institute in Washington. He writes important angry books with slashing judgments redolent with libertarian authority and quasi-neocon perceptions.

Mike Palecek is damaged by his activism which has earned him hard time in ugly places. In many ways, he is broken. Certainly wounded. Compelling in the sense of There But For The Grace Of God, Go I.

Claude AnShin Thomas, now wizened and shaven-headed, passed through hell's gate. From very brash youthful ignorance, he volunteered for infantry duty in Vietnam. Killed more than he can count. Ate wounds. Came home damaged. Raged, roared, and raved. Sought solace in substances. Crashed through other gates and took vows as a Zen monk. He now lives peace. He carries peace on his shoulders wherever he goes.

Edmund Bordeaux Szekeley emerged from Transylvanian roots to be a philogist and medical doctor, herbalist, translator of Essene documents, and polymath. He found links from ancient Mesopotamia to the Vedas and sutras of future India.

Civilizations are intertwined thereby. The West is rooted with the East. Differences in fact are muted by knowledge of past as guide to future while we live peaceably. All we need to do is to know ourselves as peace. No?

Leonard Koren writes about Japan as we like to imagine it may have been. He tries to live wabi-sabi. And may succeed.

Mike Palecek writes novels colored darkly by his suffering. Claude AnShin Thomas embodies suffering and finds peace in activism. Ted Galen Carpenter is a talking head. I wonder what he feels about life and living. Edmund Bordeaux Szekeley, passed, now makes available a vast library through an obscure address in Nelson, British Columbia. His legatee avoids computers and shuns organization. Leonard Koren writes now and then about various matters Nipponese. Apparently keeps himself relatively calm and quiet.

Me? I write for Swans and tend a mini-botanical garden in rural Hawaii while intending to unwind from raging, raving, ranting, and roaring about George W. Bush. I have to admit, he hooks me solidly. Tests me a lot.



1.  America's Coming War with China, A Collision Course Over Taiwan, Ted Galen Carpenter, ISBN: 1-4039-6841-1.

2.  Terror Nation, Notes from the Perimeter, Mike Palecek, ISBN: 0-9774590-5.

3.  The Living Buddha, Edmund Bordeaux Szekeley, International Biogenic Society, Nelson BC, no ISBN.

4.  At Hell's Gate, A Soldier's Journey from War to Peace, Claude AnShin Thomas, ISBN: 1-59030-134-X.

5.  Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers, Leonard Koren, ISBN: 1-880656-12-4.


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published July 31, 2006