Via the ever-wonderful RMS at the Worst Horse, I have discovered, downloaded, installed, and am now using Ommwriter. As my long-time readers know, I have a complicated relationship with all things marketed as “Zen” or “Buddhist” or in any way a part of the spirituality business to the extent that it rubs my leftist leanings the wrong way, raising my quiet indignation against the system, the market-saturated culture of oppression in which we often find ourselves.
But. I digress.
I digress because I may be a convert here. The experience of actually using Ommwriter is, to put it bluntly, pretty freakin’ cool. I think part of the reason I’m enjoying it is because I was reminded yesterday about an article I read some years ago one of those articles written by a linguist or a statistician at MIT back when the Internet was still called ARPANET, the kind of paper that gets shuffled from hard drive to hard drive before ending up in some dusty corner of the web to be found by the likes of me. I can’t now recall where I found that article, but I do recall that its author claimed that word processing programs are evil. They are evil because they force users to become two fundamentally different types of people simultaneously: typists and typesetters. The art of writing, of typing, is something that requires focus and dedication. And word processing programs, to the extent that they distract you with auto-spelling corrections and troubling you with type face and fonts and margins and so on, get in the way of writing. A good writer, the author suggested, should just write and only once she’s finished, should she worry about Helvetica or Times New Roman, single or double space.
One of my favorite moments from last year’s presidential campaign was when Former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama. Not because I particularly cared who Mr. Powell thought we should vote for, and not because I agree with the man or thought his endorsement, that late in the game, was really going to change anything. What I liked about that moment was what he had to say about the Tin-Foil Hat Brigade’s claims that Mr. Obama was a Muslim. To which Mr. Powell said, “So what?” “Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?”
And I’ve been having the same reaction lately in this health care debate as the Tin-Foil Hat Brigade marches to town halls to scream about Pres. Obama being a socialist. I had that same reaction, thinking to myself, if Pres. Obama’s “socialism” is little more than the type of health care enjoyed by most of Northern Europe and Canada, who cares?
I was out of town for most of this past weekend for some personal, family related issues. (That’s all you get, Internet! I don’t hang out all my laundry, dirty or clean!) So I’ve been out of touch with my usual online sources blogs, Twitters, etc., etc. But one thing did catch my eye, and it’s been rattling around my head for a couple of days now. Claudia, of the wonderful blog The Bottom of Heaven, twittered (tweeted?) the following:
Can’t quite wrap my head around the idea of Karma on a meta-level; was the Middle Passage “bad Karma”? Is this a question Buddhists ask?
The ever-clever (and able to hold her liquor) SJ commented on my last post asking, I think, for a rant about archaism and oppression masquerading as tradition. And post-colonialism. Dear me. That’s a lot. But I’m always up for a challenge!
Something buried in this post â€” this delightful, insightful, post-colonial critique-ful post â€” by Arunlikhati (of course) caught my eye. â€œDharmic evolution.â€
Iâ€™m going to say it. Evolution has nothing to do with the Dharma.
Now look. I love evolution as much as the next guy. In fact, Iâ€™m a big fan of science in general. I mean, how can you not like science? Itâ€™s given us USB flash drives, penicillin, and the new Star Trek movie. Câ€™mon. How cool is that? But the theory of evolution cannot be applied to human culture, society, or religion. It just canâ€™t.
If people used language with more specificity, if they were saying what they actually meant, I would get up on this soap box far less frequently.
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?
History is a weapon.