Thursday, May 13, 2010

mixed messages

Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. It's an old saying.

I once heard of a Zen monastery that took a $100,000 donation in illegal drug money. "We will purify the funds," was an explanation at the time.

Yesterday, Wal-Mart announced a plan to increase its donations to food banks in a country where millions rely on food stamps. Wal-Mart has been accused of manipulating the poor and disenfranchised. Do the hungry care where the food comes from?

In Hingham, a small town about 100 miles east of here, a Roman Catholic school has revoked its acceptance of the son of two lesbians, arguing that it was ill-equipped to answer questions the boy was likely to raise.

In Washington, the U.S. president Barack Obama met with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai and then warned the American public that America's war in Afghanistan was likely to get worse before it got better.

The French writer, Honore de Balzac, was reported to have said, "Behind every great fortune lies a great crime." But is there any bit of good fortune that does not partake of some disquiet or anguish and, alternatively, any horror that does not bring with it some element of good fortune?

Like cinnamon bread, this is woven with that and the goodness carries with it some bitter stories. This, I suppose, is called "yin and yang" by some -- the intertwining of all things. It's a slick description, but naming the name has a tendency to diminish the impact of horror or delight. To see things intellectually or emotionally is not to see things clearly, I'd say.

The only way I can see to find some peaceful ground is to take responsibility -- pay attention and take responsibility for the cinnamon and the bread, the bread and the cinnamon. In this way, the heart can find some peace -- a peace that will never take root in the realms of praise or blame, elevation or diminution. Virtue and wisdom are not so much the point. Peace, clear as Windex, is the point.


  1. Whoa dude, lots to process:
    Lie down with dogs, get fleas: Yet Fidel Castro remains a hero and a darling to "champions of the disenfranchised..."

    On drug money donations: I know a pastor who had a church in a favela, in Rio, the slums. One day he was remodeling his church and a truck full of bricks, concrete, and supplies pulls up. The delivery men say "The 'Boss' sent this over for your church". The 'boss' means the drug lord that runs the traffic in that particular favela. His mother was a member of that church. He wanted his mother worshiping in a "nice place". Refusing the donation would have meant trouble, for the delivery men and the pastor. What are you gonna do?

    A private school or entity is well within it's rights to accept or not accept. That's why we have public schools.

    Barack is coming along fine, well versed in "politicospeech" and anyone who thought they were getting anything different with him is now seeing the truth.

    Everything has two sides, and when someone wins, someone loses. If I get a job opening, it means someone else didn't.

    Pobody's Nerfect, nor is our world. All we can do is grab a slice of that cinnamon bread and sit...

  2. Money is neither pure nor impure - 'tis the mind that makes it so.

    Every single bit of $ that circulates in the world has passed through its share of do-gooders and not-so-do gooders.

    And last I knew....wisdom was the point. And in case it needs to be spelled out....wisdom is not intellectual understanding.