foolish mortals seeking truth, beauty & peace
A Dharma talk given at the regular Friday morning service at Oasis. By Dharmavidya.
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Remembering the meal table discussions that took place later in the summer, when I still thought that there was no way the U.S. election would result in what it did. Reading the New York Times is a bit like reading Mad Magazine.
There won't be a general election unless things get much worse very quickly. There is a serious attempt going on (initiated by Cameron) to have fixed term parliaments, but an unexpected spin off has been referenda which, in my view, are worse than having unpredictable election times.
I think that one major effect of the big demo not averting the war was not only that the public lost some faith in politicians, but politicians lost faith in the public. Each had certainty that what they were doing was right. This has produced a sharp divide that is still not healed or even papered over at all successfully and this is leading to a polarisation of politics such as we have not seen for a long time in UK. It used to be said (especially in the Blair years) that you could not tell one major party from the other, but now the divide is widening by the day.
A sense of certainty can be rather dangerous.
Regarding wars, the West did go on to destabilise Libya and tried it in Syria with disastrous results that we are still suffering. Iran would be a much tougher nut.
Regarding more referendums, it is an interesting speculation what will happen. The next thing is we trigger the process of leaving and there then follows two years of negotiation. Is there not then going to be a rather strong demand for the public to have its say about whether the deal negotiated is acceptable? What happens then? By then UK will still be a year or so away from a general election. I suspect there will be demand for a referendum on the terms. After all it will be a parallel situation to the last one, which was, essentially, a vote on the terms that Cameron had negotiated. Won't people wnat to have their say on those that May or Leadsom get? I agree that there cannot, politically, be another referendum immediately, but two years is a long time in politics. At the end of the negotiation it will be possible to see how much/little of what the Leavers and Remainers said in their campaigns turns out to be reality.
It may just the kind of self-suggestion you mentioned, but I wonder if that march you all made in 2003 achieved things that were not so clearly marked? Perhaps it was the next war that was headed off, thus. The drums might have been beaten louder to go on to Iran, had there been less public resistance to the Iraq invasion. Who knows, I certainly don't. I to am sure there's no perfect system. I'm also not a conspiracy theorist in relation to our own, mainly because I assume those in power to be running to keep up themselves, also working on partial knowledge, and ultimately unable to insulate themselves from suffering. I imagine that no-one will be suggesting another referendum on anything much in the UK for a good while now! Namandabu
One difference it made was that the fact that so many marched and it seemed to make no difference to anything led to a decline in marches and demos for quite a while afterwards. Street politics seemed futile then and has only recently revived and, even now, not to the level that was common before.
Regarding 'apologies' for different kinds of polities: I'm sure there is no perfect system. Plato thought the best was a kind of benign despotism, and occasionally in history it probably has been. Democracy has the great merit of allowing change with little or no bloodshed, but is surely no better then most systems at producing wise outcomes, despite being one of the most expensive systems. War is usually popular, as is capital punishment. Would a referendum on going to war in Iraq have changed things? I really don't know, but am certainly not confident that the population as a whole would have voted for peace, especially if they had known that UK's cheap oil supply was in danger. Probably the best political systems have been transitional hybrids of one kind or another. Applications of pure ideology generally seem to produce unfortunate results. I do think that representational democracy is much superior to direct or plebicitic.
To me that's an unarguable truth, simply because its so open-ended and generalised. I accept that both myself and all those I speak with are almost comically partial in our understanding of these things (partial in both senses). But spiritedness would seem to be, in part, about willing to make a mistake, and then giving it your best shot. Especially in relation to war, and to what war leads to. Leaving it to the grown-ups who know better than we, surely won't do. That's as good an apology for an authoritarian state as it is for democratic realpolitik. I suppose none of you marching in 2003 knew all the factors either, but I'm grateful that you marched anyway. Who's to say what difference that did or did not make?
What is clear is that how one feels depends upon how one sees things and how one sees them is a function of what information is revealed and what remains out of sight. We are easily deceived and more easily so in the directions that we want to believe.
Much here that I relate to, welcome. As a statement of broad principle I find it practical, intelligent and generous. But framed, as it is, as a response to the Chilcott report, I also see I'm very uneasy with it. It may not be exactly what you intended (?), but I certainly don't hear a rigid adherence to abstract ideals, or a lazy judgementalism, in (the best of) even the fiercest critics of what the Government and other leadership perpetrated in 2003. I hear, precisely, spiritedness. That indispensable kind of spiritedness that calls power to account, that 'speaks truth to power'. Realpolitik, yes. But the question here is of a degree of manipulative secrecy and wilful misleading that - it seems to me - is different in kind to the politics of (e.g.) the current Labour, or Green party. I would still dare to hope that not all those in authority lie, at least in the sense that Cilcott adresses. An interesting question seems to be how voices on the margins of politics, even the mainstream 'opposition', can afford a degree of honesty that the government of the day (including them, if they get there) may find much more difficult. But people are hurting at what happened, and hurting at the apparent hopelessness of what has been left in its wake. God knows, the hurt of those who feel made complicit in that crime by their Britishness is as naught, compared to what has been and is actually being suffered in Iraq, but to my ears anyway that's where the anger comes from - hurt, and deep sadness. I think the current Labour leader showed great statesmanship in his response to Chilcot, as did the only Green MP. The question of bringing a case of war-crimes hangs in the air, and even if it is vanishingly unlikely to happen, that too frames a challenging spiritual dilemma, I think. I believe it would be the right thing to do, but I also applaud the Labour leader for not calling for it, as his critics seem to have assumed he would. I do see that I don't know, and see too that opinions are very easy to have from where I stand - they are not costly. Your talk reminds me of this. I won't keep weighing in like this, and sorry if it feels intrusive. The talk clearly touched a nerve and was a useful provocation. Name Amida Bu, and thank you.
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