Shortly after I posted my last entry, wherein I talked about the Buddha’s compassion embracing everyone without distinction, I received an email forwarded to me from my lovely and talented wife. A friend of ours’ daughter recently married, and her husband is now serving in the Army Reseve. In point of fact, he is right now at boot camp somewhere in the South.
Without revealing too many personal details, he is not currently a U.S. citizen. Turns out that one way to fast-track your citizenship is to join the Army Reserve. (Add that to my list of things I’d never thought about and was surprised to learn.) The gist of the email was to ask folks to send him letters, postcards, care packages. Something about being in boot camp means not having regular access to the Internet or email. And something about being a newlywed far from home means missing your family.
So there are problems. There really is discrimination, poverty, sexism, and homophobia in this country, no matter how much we would like to believe that these things are nothing more than ephemeral prapaÃ±ca, illusory delusions of the unenlightened. The fact that they are real means that there is suffering out there, that people cope in a variety of ways. Some of us write exceedingly long blog posts about it. And this one attempts to answer the question of why you should care.
There are those who wish this conversation would go away, who staunchly claim that “race is a construct” and that we, especially as Buddhists, should be “better than that.” I want to address that point of view. I want to answer the question of why I think that having this conversation is important for Buddhists, for Buddhists of a certain political persuasion, and for people in general.