But I think we need to understand that anger, that being offended, that being ruffled or riled, is okay. “Offended” is, at the end of the day, an emotion. It is essentially no different than “happy” or “in love” or “light-hearted” or “sad” or “jealous” or, dare I say it, “enlightened.” And this knee-jerk reaction against being offended isn’t any more “Buddhist” than a calm or equanimous reaction. In fact, when you judge “offended” or “self-rightous” as “bad” and “calm” or “letting it go” as “good,” isn’t that nothing more than discriminative thinking?
We have a skylight in our bedroom, directly above my head. Last night, around a quarter to eleven, there appeared two helicopters, loud, and blinking lights into the darkened room. This morning, I found out why: the Oakland Police had corralled a good number of people to arrest them in front of the Paramount Theater, about six blocks from our house.
In case you hadn’t heard, in reaction to the shooting of an unarmed twenty-two-year-old father in BART station, local residents went from peaceful protest to violence yesterday.
I was still living in Los Angeles in 1992 when the Rodney King riots engulfed the Southland. I’m having some eerie flashbacks here. Does nothing ever change? Do we never learn from our past?
For Christmas this year, my mother gave me a first edition copy of J.D. Salinger’s Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction. When I was a younger, angrier, more confused man (or, ever since I discovered The Catcher in the Rye on my mom’s bookshelf when I was a fifteen), I was a die-hard Salinger fan of the type he would probably have deplored. So I’ve read Raise High probably a half dozen times, at least, but not once in the last half-dozen years. Since Dana and I were on the road (literally) over the last week or so, I took the opportunity to read it again. Salinger’s command of language still brings me great joy, even if, philosophically, I feel like I’ve moved on from him. And something in Seymour still inspires, still helps me overcome my own personal and professional slumps.