Sunday, January 30, 2011


Yesterday, the peace picket line was swollen with participants. Where eight or ten had stood on previous Saturdays, yesterday there were perhaps 50 people. The uptick probably had something to do with the fact that Tea Party and other activists with a different point of view had invaded in recent weeks with flags saying "Don't Tread on Me" and signs saying things like, "Dead Terrorists Don't Kill People." There were no confrontations, but the peace folks added troops wearing arm bands saying, "Peace Keeper," which struck me as a bit bold.

I found myself next to Nau, a young Japanese woman who smiles a lot. She and Andy, another picket, talked about an apartment (condo) for sale -- something Nau might like to take advantage of since her current digs have sloping floors and poor insulation. But Nau said she really didn't like to own things or owe money. Cars, homes, and other acquisitions ran against her grain, she said. "I don't like the responsibility," she said in what I thought was a nicely-candid admission ... one that deserved some examination.

She then segued into the fact that the Dalai Lama was scheduled to talk in Washington at some point in the near future. She wanted to go (sort of), but was worried about how expensive it was and the fact that she wondered how much she could learn from a forum that she couldn't learn from a book or internet speech. She bounced back and forth between wanting to and not-wanting to go. She would be in some nose-bleed section, she imagined, and, it seemed to me, she was wondering if the Dalai Lama would notice her ... which is a wispy dream of anyone going to such events, I guess.

Without making a federal case out of it, I suggested that monks and talks and temples and robes and books and other paraphernalia of spiritual life were aimed at one thing, and one thing alone: They are directed at you personally (no one else) and how much you might be willing to ACT based on the information provided.

As I say, I didn't make a federal case out of it: People either find this out or they don't. And the longing for a consoling, loving deus ex machina who will make things all better is profound. If it weren't profound, religions around the world would disintegrate in a nanosecond.

Responsibility is a hard thing where the mind longs for what might be called the Tooth Fairy. But as with owning a condo or a car or other acquisitions, it is impossible to escape responsibility, even when the desire is strong. Who is responsible for the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the music we listen to, the friends we keep. If we were irresponsible about such things, we would go naked and hungry and friendless.

I guess we'd all like to have it both ways -- be responsible for what is easy and still maintain a foothold in a world where life cares for us without the expending of any effort ... a kind of loving parent whose job it is to make sure we are safe and secure.

How is it possible not to be responsible?

On the other hand, how is it possible to be responsible?

It's worth a look, I think.

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