A Trump Presidency Need Not Be the End Times

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

It was with feelings of shock and dismay that early this morning I woke up to learn that Donald Trump had been elected president of the United States. Although, as a monk, I do not endorse political candidates or align myself with political parties, I feel that as a human being inhabiting this fragile planet, I have an obligation to stand up for policies that promote economic and social justice, respect for the innate dignity of all human beings, and preservation of the earth’s delicate biosphere. By the same token, I must oppose policies detrimental to these ideals. I see politics, not merely as a naked contest for power and domination, but as a stage where great ethical contests are being waged, contests that determine the destiny—for good or for ill—of everyone in this country and on this planet.

Trump’s presidential campaign challenged each of the ethical ideals I cherish, and if he acts upon his campaign pledges, his policies may entail misery for people in the United States and all across the world. His campaign repeatedly demeaned people because of their ethnicity, religion, and national origins. He threatened to deny women their reproductive rights and access to critical healthcare. He said he would cut taxes on the rich, curtail essential social services for working families, and deport millions of undocumented immigrants. He proposed to deal with crime by imposing “law and order,” a code expression affirming the harsh American system of mass incarceration, particularly of black males. Most alarmingly, he said he would promote an energy boom in fossil fuels—just at a time when we desperately need to be launching a renewable energy revolution. If he actually acts on his words, carbon emissions will soar, climate change will spin out of control, and water and air will become terribly polluted. Huge swaths of the planet will be rendered barren, decimating ever more species and bringing disaster and death to hundreds of millions of people.

In the face of Trump’s victory, we are likely to feel dejected and demoralized, but this is exactly what we must resist. Yes, we should feel saddened. Yes, we should feel worried—very worried. We should feel moral outrage at what his victory portends. But we should not feel despondent and resign ourselves to a passive acquiescence in our fate. We have to preserve hope. We have to arouse courage to withstand the tides of hatred, bigotry, and resentment that may be unleashed by a Trump administration. We need to resist the growing tide of fascism, in whatever guise it may appear, and to root out the lies and disinformation that nourish it. No matter how ominous the coming years may be, we must remain determined to preserve our democracy from being undermined from within and transformed into an autocratic plutocracy—government by the rich and privileged.

In my view, the struggle that lies ahead requires that those devoted to a progressive vision of American society transcend the particular interests of the groups with which they are personally aligned and form alliances to create a broad-based progressive movement rooted in a recognition of our shared values. Whether one’s calling be with Black Lives Matter, with the living wage campaign, with women’s reproductive rights, with gender rights, with environmental and climate issues, with contemplative spirituality, or any other, we must come together under a common banner, recognizing that it is only by standing together in a unified front that we can prevail against the regressive forces that will be trying to destroy our noblest ideals and greatest democratic achievements.

While Trump’s victory probably stemmed largely from the support he gathered from white working class people whose jobs had been exported overseas through free trade agreements, it is far from certain that the policies he adopts will actually benefit these people. If he fails to meet their expectations, it is possible that white working class people, whether in the Rust Belt or the South, will come to see that their interests, too, align with those of other members of the “underclass.” This could result in the emergence of a stronger united front, one that brings together minorities and white working people in a common demand for a new moral economy, a social and economic order that works for everyone and enables everyone to flourish.

For the present, however, we have to be prepared to face dark times. To prevail against the darkness, we must hold fast to our cherished ideals of truth, love, compassion, and justice. We must also maintain the faith that, while ignorance and hatred may at times be dominant, through concerted action patiently pursued we can finally usher in an era of justice, love, and human unity.

The above essay represents the personal opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the view of Buddhist Global Relief as an organization.

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41 responses to “A Trump Presidency Need Not Be the End Times

  1. Reblogged this on Il blog di Letizia Baglioni and commented:
    Questo intervento del Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi parla non solo agli Americani che si confrontano con un difficile momento della loro storia politica e sociale, ma a tutti noi che amiamo e pratichiamo il Dhamma e ci sforziamo di capire come coniugare il sentiero della pace del cuore con la partecipazione sensibile e intelligente al turbolento spazio della polis – dove apprendiamo l’inevitabile connessione della nostra vita a quella degli altri, e impariamo che le scelte, i valori, i pensieri e le emozioni agiscono ben al di là dei limiti di questa pelle, di questa ‘testa’, di questo paese.

  2. With gratitude for your message. It was just what I needed to move into the future with loving kindness and compassion.

  3. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi, I am saddened not by the election result but by your opinion piece here. As a practicing Buddhist and a big fan of your tireless work as one of our foremost scholars, I really wish I had not just read when you wrote.

    To put it simply, you have now fallen in line with a cavalcade of other voices who assume that any tolerant, peaceful, intelligent person out there must oppose either Trump the man or his policy positions (not the same). I think he is a buffoon and has said some stupid things, but I also think many of those things have been blown way out of proportion, exaggerated, misquoted. I also happen to agree with many of his policies.

    I did not vote for him, I voted for Gary Johnson because I identify politically as a libertarian. But that shouldn’t matter. Just as you assume “law and order” must be a dog whistle term, you use “broad-based progressive movement” as a euphemism for liberal. So what I am to think or feel if I do not see myself in that same political group? You make it seem as though liberals/progressives are the only noble group out there.

    I used to call myself a liberal because I thought that was synonymous with tolerant. But what I’ve found recently is that liberals can be extremely intolerant of views they disagree with, to the point of intimidation and discouragement of free speech. As a Buddhist I believe in pragmatism and realism, and while I realize Trump arouses feelings of fear and bigotry in many people, I still think we will be better off as a nation and a world than if Secretary Clinton had been elected. I take his policy positions at face value evaluate them one by one.

    You may be surprised to learn that I am an environmentally engaged and concerned citizen AND I believe there is a place for fossil fuel investment. The two are not mutually exclusive as many seem to assume. Trump can push for more energy development while simultaneously pushing for rigorous, science-based safety and emissions regulations.

    I really wish you would have stuck to Buddhism and philanthropy and not politics. Ironically I was just about to contact you with advice on how I can tastefully incorporate Buddhist scripture into my upcoming wedding, but now I’m not sure I want it 😦

    • As another commenter mentioned, I am also dumbfounded that as a Buddhist monk you could promote or even defend legalized abortion. How do you square that with the precept “I vow to refrain from intentionally killing any living being”??? That whole argument has been warped to appear as a manifesto for a “woman’s right to choose” and to control her own body. What about the right of that baby growing inside her to continue living? Who will speak up for them?

      • Two points in reply to your comment:
        (1) Although as a Buddhist I am personally opposed to abortion and would advise a woman who sought my counsel against obtaining one, I believe that the question of whether abortion should be legal is a political matter that should be left to the organs of government to determine. Those who oppose abortion on religious grounds should not be entitled to use government policy to impose the entailments of their beliefs on others.
        (2) Trump’s stance on reproductive rights is not confined to abortion (about which he has actually been ambivalent). According to today’s Washington Post: “Trump has not called for a ban on birth control. But he has promised to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood, which offers a variety of birth control measures, including IUDs, in a pledge to antiabortion groups in the fall.” Thus if he were to follow through on his promise to cut funding to PP, he could be depriving women of access to means of birth control other than abortion. Moreover, if his administration were to abolish Obamacare, which provides coverage for IUDs, this could create formidable obstacles for poorer women who seek other means of birth control. Again, from the same Washington Post article: “They vary in duration and cost, as high as $1,000 in out-of-pocket expenses for those who are uninsured. The Affordable Care Act — which Trump vowed to repeal — requires coverage of some forms of birth control, including intrauterine devices, by nearly all health insurance plans.”

    • You write: “… you have now fallen in line with a cavalcade of other voices who assume that any tolerant, peaceful, intelligent person out there must oppose either Trump the man or his policy positions (not the same).”

      If you read my article closely you will see that I do not make any such assumption. I also did not pass judgment upon Trump as a person. I merely pointed out that statements he made during his campaign run counter to ethical ideals that I see as rooted in recognition of the innate dignity of all human beings. I also said that the policies he pledged to adopt as president are likely to prove harmful, economically and socially, to ordinary people here in the US and around the world.

      I don’t reject all of Trump’s policies–to the extent that we can determine what they are, for he often changes his positions without realizing that he is being inconsistent. I actually thought he made good sense when he spoke of seeking to re-establish friendlier relations with Russia and China, which would be far more prudent than persisting in the provocative stance that the Obama Administration has taken and presumably which Clinton would have carried even further.

      Perhaps it’s possible to be “an environmentally engaged and concerned citizen AND [to] believe there is a place for fossil fuel investment.” However, during his campaign Trump went far beyond speaking of rational and sustainable fossil fuel investment. He spoke of rescinding on the US’s support for the Paris Climate Accord (already a weak and inadequate agreement), of abolishing Obama’s Clean Power Plan (another fairly tame policy measure), and of promoting unconstrained development of the US’s fossil fuel industries. With the climate already erratic, and with calamities following in quick succession clear across the planet, this could turn out to be a recipe for unmitigated catastrophe.

    • Hi Dan:

      In contrast to you, I applaud Bhante for taking a stance against what he sees as an immanent danger to sentient beings. There are two scenarios: First, if Trump is true to his words, what he has proposed, especially climate related policies, are really scary and indeed portend a dark future. Second, if he is not true to his words, and has merely taken advantage of people’s fear to stir up hatred, we are also in for a dark time – with a buffoon and demagogue as the most powerful man on earth. For one, I do judge Trump as a person based on his deeds and words.

      And what is politics? What is religion? Surely Buddhism is not just about individual practices. There are scriptural writings about what an ideal ruler should be and how a wheel-turning monarch benefits his people. What is the line that we should draw between individual practice of Buddhadharma and speaking out against political and social injustices? Should Buddhist teachers always be neutral in politically contentious issues even though they may have deep implications on our common future? Bhante has made it clear that he sees politics “not merely as a naked contest for power and domination, but as a stage where great ethical contests are being waged, contests that determine the destiny.” I sincerely hope that this essay of his will bring about a much needed debate among Buddhist leaders, both monastics and non-ordained, regarding their role in an increasingly volatile and dangerous world.

      I also need to make it clear that I think Hilary was very wrong in calling people who support Trump “deplorable.” I have friends who called Trump supporters idiots and I simply don’t see how that is constructive or how that will help us bridge the great divide. If anything, I empathize with those left behind by the tide of globalization. And if we are to have any influence on people who have bought into Trump’s demagoguery, it is critical that we have empathy for them and patiently use developing facts to engage in a dialogue with them. I simply don’t see how Trump can just waive a magic wand and bring back jobs to the Rust Belt, and if Trump wantonly start trade wars with other countries, it is this group of people that will be further hurt. It will be a double whammy. That’s what Bhante tries to point out near the end of the essay, where he says that the united front may be broadened.

      I was hoping that Trump proves me wrong and still do. However, the people he is lining up to fill the cabinet may well prove my hope wrong.

  4. Bhante, perhaps pointing out the flaws in Trump without mentioning Hillary is too one-sided.
    As the Buddha said: “…when anyone feels no shame in telling a deliberate lie, there is no evil, I tell you, he will not do.”
    And that’s what sums up both candidates who ran for office. Both are constantly lying about their intentions and plans and actions, and they are both capable to doing any evil imaginable. People can argue and find variations between the two, but that’s how it is in the end. Neither have passed the bar of what’s acceptable, not by a long shot.

    Considering the hatred and infighting in the buddhist community that there is constantly, I’m not confident that anyone is up for the task to unite people. It’s just something people utter because it sounds nice, isn’t it? There are too few who actually make a serious effort to get there.

    • With all due respect, Hillary Clinton didn’t get elected. What would the point of criticizing her be in an article about the incoming president-elect and his administration? She’s not going to be part of it.

  5. Marilyn Schlansky

    Thank you, Bhante. I am emailing this to all and sundry.

  6. Pingback: I Believe – Paint Your Landscape

  7. Hillary Clinton was the devil we know. Her foreign policy as Secretary of State laid waste to the Middle East, murdering, raping & socially uprooting millions of innocent people in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen & potentially Lebanon & Iran, as she serves, via financial payback, not the people of the United States but the apartheid racist state called Israel. Mr Trump has criticized Mrs Clinton’s refusal to eliminate [her own mercenary] ISIS forces in Syria & her wish to oppose Russia cleansing Syria of ISIS & [her] other mercenary/terrorist groups, which arose from the shipping of weapons, money & terrorists via Benghazi in Libya. One reason why Hillary herself planned & rejoiced over the destruction & murder of the Libyan rulership was so the Libyan military hardware could be stolen & used in Syria; shipped via NATO member Turkey. As for the economic problems of the United States that face the people that are the cause for the support of Mr Trump, these are a result of the progressive ignorance, personal greed, selfishness & foolishness of the people; in that they wrongly believed for many decades that free trade & financial & media deregulation that occurred under the Bill Clinton administration was a good thing. The United States is a failed democracy. Its entire corrupt political system is based on misuse of taxation revenue (including giving aid to Israel so of which is returned in kind to bride politicians such as Clinton).and the misuse of power to profit from wars & the international drug trade (why the USA has been in Afghanistan for 15 years). Given there is the devil we know & the devil we do not know and given stopping illegal immigration is the right thing to do & given returning industry to the USA is the right thing to do, I would have been shocked as a humanitarian at anything other than a Donald Trump victory. The Buddhist monk writing this article sounds like a typical American-only-focused-American, unaware & uncaring about the international atrocities performed & supported by the Obama-Clinton administration for the sake of the racist & apartheid regime called “Israel”. Also, I am surprised to read this Buddhist monk seems to be supporting abortion. Overall, it is surreal to read a Buddhist monk so unaware of how failed the entire American system is & of how corrupt and immoral Hillary Clinton is, as though there could be some real positive outcome from either outcome.

  8. “He threatened to deny women their reproductive rights and access to critical healthcare.”

    Most commentators seem to focus on Trump’s stand on abortion. If Trump wants to restrict abortions, would Bhikkhu Bodhi speak out against this?

  9. I am elated that he ran for this and that he won. He stands for none of the negative things that his opponents used against him during the campaign – it was just a character smearing. I appreciate the way he speaks his truth in a human way, which is very unlike any politician. I have a feeling, rather than depression and worry, we are all going to be surprised that , for a change , progress may actually be made.
    I must add that it was not simply the “white working class”people that voted for Trump. He had much support from women – in fact, more than did his opponent, the educated, as well as minorities that didn’t buy the dishonest exaggerated criticisms of his admittedly somewhat flippant words. He showed neither racism, nor bigotry. He became the victim of a typical smear campaign that the party uses against all of its opponents in every election.

    From the information that was exposed about Ms.Clinton and her true feelings about pretty much the entire U.S. population, as well as some of her questionable activities throughout time, her being elected could better be seen as “dark times”. From my observation and less surface, but instead deep research into Donald Trump as a human being and the opinions of his family and long time friends, I believe him to be kind and caring man with high standards. I believe that is the only reason that he ran for this office, which is to say, he wanted to bring us out of the dark, decisive and chaotic times that we have been suffering through for the last decade here in America, where we felt unsure of what might be foist upon us at any given time, without our consent or even any inquiry into our desires as citizens of this Republic. Why don’t we just leave off the judgement and have some optimism that a non-politician may be just the thing at this time of turmoil to bring us all together, instead of predicting doom.

  10. Bhikkhu Bodhi said: “Those who oppose abortion on religious grounds should not be entitled to use government policy to impose the entailments of their beliefs on others.” Government policy is not something divorced from ethics or morals, just as religion is not something divorced from ethics or morals. It is the very religions including Buddhism that provide guidance for ethics & morals. As a monk forbidden from giving advice to have an abortion, the impression of your post is a hypocritical position. This looks really bad and your explanation has just made the hypocrisy even worse. I imagine Buddhism teaches self-control and, again, promoting birth control (which obviously allows sexual promiscuity to easily & heedlessly occur) again seems outside of the scope of a Buddhist counselor. it is quite noticeable the women on this forum are supporting you & the men are not. Therefore, the impression is again arising that you are not teaching Buddhism but, alternately, teaching that which pleases your followers & benefactors. This again gives an outward impression of hypocrisy & a non-Buddhist point of view.

    • Let me reply to your comment by using a parallel case, one that may be less emotionally charged than abortion. As a Buddhist, on moral grounds I oppose the killing of animals. I adhere to the first precept, to abstain from taking life–the life of any sentient being, whether animal, fish, or even insects. I also teach my students to observe the precept of abstaining from the destruction of life. Yet I would not advocate that the US government prohibit the slaughter of animals, that it close down the meat and fishing industries and make vegetarianism mandatory for all citizens. Why not? Because I cannot and should not seek to use government policy to impose my moral convictions on others who adhere to different presuppositions. Since the great majority of people in this country do not believe that the killing of animals is morally wrong, and want to eat meat and fish, I have to respect their freedom to act on these beliefs. Indeed, even in the countries of Theravada Buddhism, animals are slaughtered to produce meat and fishing is a major livelihood of the population and the monks willingly accept offerings of meat and fish for their meals.
      We can apply this to the case of abortion. On the basis of the Buddhist texts, I believe that the life-process begins when a stream of consciousness coming from a deceased being “connects” with the newly fertilized ovum. Thus I consider the embryo to be a living being, a potential human being, and on these grounds I hold that a woman who adheres to the Buddha’s teaching and wants to live in accordance with its ethical code should not have an abortion (this is so under normal circumstances; we won’t go into the question of the appropriate choice when the woman’s life would be endangered by carrying the pregnancy through to term). Hence I oppose abortion for those who follow the Buddha’s teaching, and I would also advise a woman who sought my advice (whether she is Buddhist or not) to avoid seeking an abortion because , in my view, abortion involves the killing of a living being. But I would not insist that the government make abortion illegal, for the great majority of US citizens do not subscribe to my belief system, and moreover, the Supreme Court gave women the right to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to terminate their pregnancies.

      Your second point suggests that I should propose that the US government make birth control expensive and difficult to obtain because “Buddhism teaches self-control” and inexpensive birth control allows sexual promiscuity. This argument is decidedly flawed. First, while Buddhism does teach control over sexual desire, it does not advocate total sexual abstinence for laypeople. All it insists on (in the third precept) is abstaining from sexual misconduct. Within these bounds laypeople are free to engage in sexual activities. Buddhism does not even insist on sexual relations only within a marital relationship. The third precept only requires abstaining from sexual relations with certain persons considered inappropriate (e.g., another’s partner or a minor under the protection of her parents, etc.). And second, even if one were to impose a policy prohibiting birth control (or making it too expensive for ordinary people to afford), people are going to engage in sexual relations anyway. Without means of birth control, the result of this would not be a purified, enlightened population of non-returners and arahants, but more unwanted pregnancies, more abandoned babies, and more neglected and abused children. Studies have been made of Christian groups that insist on complete abstinence for their young people. The results have shown that these young people engage in sex just as often as their peers, but without birth control are prone to have more unwanted pregnancies.

      • Allow me to reiterate: What I posted was: “Promoting birth control again seems outside of the scope of a Buddhist counselor”. Also, it was not my argument that was flawed since the “abstinence” you proposed is not synonymous with “self-control”. “Self-control” can include having sex outside of peak periods of fertility. Further, there is a difference between using birth control within marriage & outside of marriage, As for your point that Buddhism does not even insist on sexual relations only within a marital relationship; this sounds like your own flawed interpretation of a teaching created in a patriarchal society for men who had multiple wives, concubines, etc. When I lived in Thailand, I was told Buddhism teaches a woman can only have sex with her husband due to the teaching in the Dhammapada. I research this myself and found all of the various teachings of the Buddha together only promote sex in marriage (such as it being a duty of a parent to help their children find a marriage partner). Just because there is a dichotomy in Buddhism between how Buddhists & non-Buddhists are expected to behave, it does not mean it is proper for Buddhist monks to be advocates of dangerous behaviours that leads to addiction, confusion & suffering. I imagine your duty as a Buddhist monk is to show people the path to a happy way of living (rather than encourage them to a state of addiction & deprivation).

      • Dear DX,

        This is my summary of what the commentaries say about the third precept (taken from my small tract, “Going for Refuge & Taking the Precepts”: “Misconduct in regard to sense pleasures is formally defined as ‘the volition with sexual intent occurring through the bodily door, causing transgression with an illicit partner’.[8] The primary question this definition elicits is: who is to qualify as an illicit partner? For men, the text lists twenty types of women who are illicit partners. These can be grouped into three categories: (1) a woman who is under the protection of elders or other authorities charged with her care, e.g., a girl being cared for by parents, by an older brother or sister, by other relatives, or by the family as a whole; (2) a woman who is prohibited by convention, that is, close relatives forbidden under family tradition, nuns and other women vowed to observe celibacy as a spiritual discipline, and those forbidden as partners under the law of the land; and (3) a woman who is married or engaged to another man, even one bound to another man only by a temporary agreement. In the case of women, for those who are married any man other than a husband is an illicit partner. For all women a man forbidden by tradition or under religious rules is prohibited as a partner. For both men and women any violent, forced, or coercive union, whether by physical compulsion or psychological pressure, can be regarded as a transgression of the precept even when the partner is not otherwise illicit.”

        There is a difference between the morally preferable type of conduct and conduct that is permissible under the third precept. Conduct that is permissible under the precept is not necessarily the morally preferable type of conduct. Such conduct merely avoids actual transgression of the precept. The commentary’s explanation is, of course, formulated against the background of the patriarchal type of Indian society in which the Buddha and the commentators lived. Hence the commentaries hold that a woman commits sexual misconduct if she has relations with any man other than her husband. But a man may have sexual relations outside of marriage. He transgresses the precept only if he has relations with one of the types of women considered “off base,” as explained above.

        Naturally I would urge laypeople today to live in accordance with the morally preferable type of conduct, that is, to remain faithful to their spouses. However, I would not insist that they refrain from using available methods of birth control (though not abortion) to avoid unwanted pregnancies. And Trump’s pledge to abrogate the Affordable Care Act, if acted upon, would deprive many women–including married women and those in other stable relationships–of the financial support they need to obtain effective methods of birth control. They would have to rely on some form of calendar-based method. On these, it is said (Wikipedia): “One concern related to the use of calendar-based methods is their relatively high failure rate, compared to other methods of birth control. Even when used perfectly, calendar-based methods, especially the rhythm method, result in a high pregnancy rate among couples intending to avoid pregnancy.” Thus “having sex outside peak periods of fertility” is not as reliable a means of family planning as are forms of contraception.

      • “Trump’s pledge to abrogate the Affordable Care Act, if acted upon, would deprive many women–including married women and those in other stable relationships–of the financial support they need to obtain effective methods of birth control.” VBB
        ______________

        To: VBB & DX: since this is an open forum, I would like to contribute some thoughts regarding the above statement by VBB, and the subject dialogue on abortion.

        First, with respect to “Trump’s pledge to abrogate the Affordable Care Act”, I don’t believe any honest and informed person on either side of the political spectrum is entirely happy with the ACA in its current form; it needs major surgery. As most of us know by now, the ACA was “sold” to the American public with intentional deception, and obfuscation. President Obama repeatedly misrepresented the benefits and costs of the legislation with statements such as: “If you like your insurance plan/doctor, you can keep…….”, and, “The ACA will help save $2,500 per year”. Moreover, to quote House Speaker Pelosie, “We have to pass the Bill so we can find out what’s in it”. Furthermore, Obama stated emphatically the ACA would not cover abortion, or medical care for illegal immigrants; both statements not true. And lastly, with all the insurance “Co-ops” failing, it appears that the “Affordable Care Act” is “not that affordable”! The ACA is deeply flawed.

        Trump’s pledge to abrogate the ACA is in fact, the RIGHT thing to do, under the circumstances. However, this doesn’t mean Trump doesn’t have a health care plan to replace it, which is why I am dismayed that VBB has implied that womens’ healthcare, specifically related to pregnancy, will be eliminated (by Trump). That is simply an unfair assumption which only leads to more deviciveness in our already polarized society where political figures are demonized to fit a particular agenda. Rather than jump to conclusions, let’s see what he proposes.

        With respect to the other issue in this thread regarding the moral, and Buddhist views of sex, perhaps we should step back and look at the larger issue of what is behind the huge problem of unwanted pregnancies in this country, and many others (including China where abortion is considered “normal”).

        In our post 1960’s “free love” sexual revolution, the “liberated” paradigm was: “If it feels good, do it”. This “hippie generation” irresponsible concept has subsequently permeated every sector of our society, unabashedly promoted by Hollywood movies, TV, advertising (“Sex Sells”), music and “edgy” live stage performances such as the “Vagina Monologues”.

        The 1960’s “rebellion” against parental authority, or any authority for that matter (the “Me” generation), has carried over to a cultural revolution which not surprisingly, is completely antithetical to the tenets of Basic Buddhism, where virtually all the Five Precepts are violated with impunity. Lying, cheating, stealing, sexual promiscuity, intoxicants, and even killing (abortion), are considered the new normal, when our political leaders, and high profile celebrities (role models) are very visible violators. We are facing a societal moral crisis and wanton lust driven sex is celebrated rather than discouraged.

        To go back to basic Buddhist core concepts, the driving force behind sexual activity for both sexes, is Greed or Desire, based on Ignorance/Delusion. The Buddha focused his emphasis on the Four Noble Truths regarding “suffering”, on the “Three Poisons”, which are Greed/Desire, Anger/Hate, and, Ignorance/Delusion, depending on which Buddhist school you study.

        So, rather than focus on what Trump might do with the ACA, and women’s healthcare, perhaps we should focus on the larger issue of our societal decline, and how Buddhist leaders can help reverse this destructive path we have chosen. It is time we emphasized the significant benefits of Buddhism in our society.

        T

  11. I am very disappointed to see this highly negative blog from VBB regarding his view of Trump, and what he thinks will befall our country. Regardless of his disclaimers and the “clarifications” in response to the critical comments, the tone of BB’s blog, and I suspect the intent, was an attack on Trump, and approximately half the electorate, not to mention those who did not vote for various reasons, but also support his policies. We may not like everything Trump said or did during the campaign or in the past, but it is wrong to condemn him before he has taken office.

    As a practicing Buddhist, I strongly believe in equanimity, and fairness for all, even those who we may disagree with on political issues. There is entirely too much vitriol in the political arena, and karma prevails.

    More specifically, VBB mentions Trump’s “non-Buddhist” positions on gender and income inequality, racial and ethnic bigotry, insensitivity to climate change, and, several related issues. Sadly, this attack sounds remarkably like so many Liberal diatribes we have read and heard both before and after the election.

    I suggest that it would be more prudent and wise to ignore campaign retoric on both sides of the political aisle, and focus on “what is”, meaning what Trump actually does when in office, rather than what we “interpret” his views to be.

    As the Buddha pointed-out in the Five Skandhas, “perception” is what drives volition, and sometimes our perceptions are wrong. Let’s follow another one of the Buddha’s wise teachings and observe reality, rather than our perceptions.

  12. I concur with Ven. Bodhi wholeheartedly; and the Trump campaign has reflected and augmented a regressive and dangerously naive political narrative that has been growing for some years and is now current in a number of countries. It is a narrative based on negatives and fear and is exploited by demagogues. The narrative runs something like this: “It’s their fault, blame them (immigrants, people of other cultures and races, single mothers, sick and disabled people, and so forth); at the same time the narrative is nostalgic and harps back to a delusive, almost mythical golden age, a time when everything is perceived to have been wonderful. There never has been such an age and since it is an illusion it cannot be created. The public are duped by this narrative. The weak are oppressed. Public institutions and services are sold off to business interests whose priority is profit, the services provided being secondary. A nationalistic fervour can arise too. The USA is not alone in this, several European countries, including the UK, and Russia come to mind too. This does not bode well and the narrative should be opposed. Read about the 1930’s in depth and you will see similar politics at play; and vis-a-vis the current situation, consider perhaps one of H.L. Mencken’s wise remarks: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

  13. VBB and CAS: I am compelled to respond to some of the points from both of you, made regarding Trump’s alleged “regressive and dangerous” policies:

    First, regarding abortion–VBB’s position seems to be that abortion is wrong by Buddhist standards, and perhaps even wrong by common/ordinary standards, in that it is indeed, the intentional taking of life. However, VBB states that he has to respect the individual’s right to determine what they do with their bodies; and, that it is not the right of the “government” to dictate right and wrong in issues like these. Moreover, VBB stated more specifically that “we cannot look to the government to enforce our “religious beliefs”.

    Here’s another point of view for consideration:

    –First, many people believe abortion is wrong for “non-religious” reasons; believing simply that intentionally taking a life is morally wrong (exceptions for medical emergencies), which seems very Buddhist indeed.

    –But perhaps more importantly, regarding the question of whether the government should intercede on issues like this, the issue is which is more important: an individual’s right to self determination (no government control), or, a set of laws which reasonably govern our behavior.

    VBB takes the position that while abortion is morally wrong, this view is superceded by the need to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and the attendant problems with unwed mothers, abandoned children, and, the associated social issues of crime, poverty, etc.; “the end justifies the means”.

    It is precisely this mind set which has now justified “infanticide” (which is what it is), and has enabled a continuation of the sexual revolution spawned in the 1960’s/Free love movement. Women today, and men as well, can engage in unprotected sexual activity with impunity, knowing the ultimate “safety net” will save them from their lack of responsibility.

    Sadly, parents are partially responsible for this behavior, as they also. depend on “abortion mills” to avoid troublesome “problems”.

    This view of the issue is simply a tacit condoning of human proclivity, and an enormous compromise to avoid making hard decisions in our lives. We are. trying to avoid karma.

    Why not take the harder road to modify human behavior by teaching children that there are real consequences/karmic results to our actions?

    With due respect to VBB, comparing eating fish and meat to killing humans with respect to government control is a specious argument.

    To CAS: Your comments that Trump’s policy positions are “regressive and dangerous”, based on “fear mongering and demagoguery”, is sadly just what you are doing, suggesting that the “weak are being duped and oppressed by this narrative”.

    The reality is that both sides of the political aisle engage in demagoguery, and have done this for centuries. The more important question should be what policy change is right for this country under the current circumstances.

    Notwithstanding the clear issue that the country is undeniably divided and polarized on many issues, we need to consider the “Truth” behind the major issues, and not be swayed as Buddhists (I’m assuming you are a Buddhist since you are on this site) by riots in the streets (some obviously funded and supported by various “special interest groups), and evidence by “so called” EXPERTS regarding immigration, domestic employment, climate change, and, “social justice”. Both sides have their own agendas and are therefore suspect in their reasons for change.

    Rather than invoke Buddhist dharma as a justification for partisan attacks on Trump, why don’t we look objectively at the issues and decide what is pragmatically good for the country at this time.

    Specifically:

    –First, renewable power is not sufficiently advanced yet to dump hydrocarbon fuels, and until it is (maybe 20 years or more), we need to be energy independent in this country. Climate change is in reality, still in question, despite all the name calling, hand wringing, and fear mongering associated with this issue. Settled science is not settled until it is unanimous. Reviving our hydrocarbon industry is essential at this time.

    –Second, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, there is a “clear and present danger” to the US from an “open borders” policy. The data clearly shows that the huge influx of undocumented immigrants has imposed an enormous burden on social services and law enforcement, and government budgets, not to mention balkanizing our cities into ethnic ghettos where “outsiders” (meaning Americans) are not welcome.

    –Third, it is also undeniable that our country is beyond broke and has abdicated our once great manufacturing capabilities to China, etc., creating huge trade deficits, and unbelievable unemployment (90 million out of work). Trump’s policies of tariffs, and an end to NAFTA, and TPP, will restore employment, and a sense of personal self worth, rather than a life of government dependency.

    –Third, while as a practicing Buddhist, I am fundamentally against violence and killing, we must be realistic and pragmatic in our “right view”; meaning we must have a strong military to protect against tyrants like Stalin and Hitler who were maniacal in their quest for power and global dominance. Certainly ISIS is a good example, as is North Korea, and perhaps Iran. Assuming these types of predators will listen to reason and “go away” is simply fantasy. We need a strong military!

    –Lastly, Trump has vowed to “drain the swamp”, meaning end the corruption in Washington. Who can argue with this goal?

    It remains to be seen where Trump will go with this Presidency, but we should take the Buddhist approach and “see for ourselves” rather than condemn him on what are perhaps “biased” perceptions of his intent.

    T

  14. Thank you Bhikkhu. People need to see it from this perspective in order to unite together to bring real changes. Hatred is never appeased with hatred.

  15. VBB: “And second, even if one were to impose a policy prohibiting birth control (or making it too expensive for ordinary people to afford), people are going to engage in sexual relations anyway”.

    And that is THEIR choice! And they must deal with the consequences! Do they not know that unprotected sex often leads to conception?!?

    Your logic says that “well, since such and such happens then we should accept it and adapt to it”. No no no! For the record, I only condone abortion in (1) situations when the mother’s life is at risk, and (2) when science and medicine, as determined by a doctor, concludes that the fetus has a serious birth defect that will likely lead to a life of pain and misery. That’s right, I do NOT condone it in cases of rape or incest. I think rape is an awful thing, and any man or woman who perpetrated it has serious problems that need dealing with. But an abortion will not undo the rape. That fetus is still alive and has the potential to grow into a beautiful, indeed possibly inspirationally accomplished person. I can’t begin to imagine the horrors of living with the scars of rape. I also can’t begin to imagine living with the horrors of many other awful life situations. However if any of them happen to me, I will do nothing less than my best to put it into perspective and not let it rule me (or my imaginary offspring). None of this excuses the utter ease with which progressives feel abortion should be able to happen, with the corruption of law and the unwitting support of taxpayers who find it reprehensible.

    VBB: “Without means of birth control, the result of this would not be a purified, enlightened population of non-returners and arahants, but more unwanted pregnancies, more abandoned babies, and more neglected and abused children.”

    You use the word “unwanted” like we’re talking about an extra slice of cake here! If we were speaking of a world where no birth control existed, and an individual knows that sexual intercourse to fruition may well lead to a pregnancy which is determined by the individual to be unwanted, and the individual STILL has sexual intercourse to fruition, you’re saying we as a society should bear responsibility for this and not the individual?? If that individual abandons, neglects, and/or abuses the baby because they don’t have the strength and morality to be an adult, then we as a society should adapt to their preference to take such a reprehensible road?

    As a Buddhist monk, the lack of login and reason in your thinking astounds me. If I didn’t already have faith in the Triple Jewel from what I have seen for myself, I would seriously have to wonder.

  16. DX was arguing in effect that birth control should be made expensive and difficult to obtain so that people would exercise self-control and not become promiscuous. However, such practices as “total voluntary abstinence” have been tried and have consistently failed to prevent pregnancies and childbirths. Moreover, people living in stable sexual relationships (not promiscuous swingers) also wish to avoid pregnancies.

    Your argument begins along a similar line to that of DX, with the premise, “If we were speaking of a world where no birth control existed …” But we are living in a world where birth control exists, where methods of preventing pregnancies other than abortion are obtainable. Therefore the alternative is a very simple one, which will reduce unwanted pregnancies and childbirths, both out of wedlock and among married couples who want to limit the size of their families: keep contraception inexpensive and readily available. This will also help to control population size.

    I don’t see any deviation from the canons of logic and reason here.

  17. Thank you for sharing this message. It came to me at a time when I needed to be reminded to listen, to hope, and most of all, to keep exerting right effort.

  18. It was a gift to read Bhikkhu Bodhi’s letter the other day. I read it as a call to wise action and a reminder to rest with uncertainty. We don’t know what will happen but maybe we’ll find ourselves listening to and working with people who will surprise us. Other than donating some money to Hillary, I did nothing of consequence in this election. That can’t happen again.

    • To Bryn Meehan–Your reply, unfortunately, continues the partisan divide regarding this article by VBB.

      What is at issue here on this Buddhist site is “Truth”, and not reckless partisan ideology and speculation that gets people energized for a “call to wisdom/action”, which can be counter productive to real progress.

      Rather than demonize Trump as the “Devil incarnate”, and bestow sainthood on Hillary, because they are in opposing camps, let’s go back to basics and look at “truth” and reality; meaning, could it be that Trump indeed, has a better way? Or should we simply be closed minded, and block everything he does because he is the “enemy”?

      Perhaps it’s a good time to reassess our “progress” pragmatically, and decide that very possibly there are other ideas which may be good for our country.

      T

  19. Thank you for this message of hope. I read it as a call for thoughtful action and a reminder that we are always in uncertainty. We don’t know what will happen but maybe new surprising coalitions will evolve. I think this is a time to look for commonality rather than arguments.

  20. Dear Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi. Thank you for your concise, well-thought writing on this important subject. You, along with many other monastics, in and out of the Buddhist tradition, have echoed many of the same thoughts: that this politician ran a campaign which consisted more of denigrating and degrading others rather than of meaningful discussion of issues and policy principles. To bring this point to bear is not to smear Mr. Trump, but merely to report on the facts. For years, this man repeated the canard that Pres. Obama is not an American, that he was not a Christian, and that he was not following the Constitution, this despite Obama being a well-regarded constitutional scholar schooled at both Harvard and Columbia University. He is on the record for calling women ‘fat pigs,’ referring derisively to women’s menstrual cycles, boasting about his penis size, and shamelessly stating that he grabbed women by their genitals. His assertion, that he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot people dead and still be elected president, is borne out by many of those who voted for him.

    There are people replying to Bhikkhu Bodhi’s cogent and even sanguine article who seem to revel in breaking the precepts, especially that of Right Speech and Right Intention. It is incredibly disheartening to see how these people can be so disrespectful to a Venerable monk and still call themselves Buddhists. Here in the West, I guess, manners don’t seem to be well-regarded, as, once again, we see in the behavior of the newly elected president.

    Ultimately, Bhante’s message is one of understanding, compassion and reconciliation. That anyone could find these ideals offensive is astonishing. I will not respond to them, as I don’t believe they represent Buddhists or the aims of Buddhist spirituality. Their comments have been argumentative and even bullying. I hope no one else responds to them, either, as there seems to be no apparent desire to reach unity on their part, but rather to divide and spread misunderstanding and ill-will. If one of them responds negatively to my comment, they will have proven my point.

    Lastly, I want to thank you so, so much, Bhante, for your wise, insightful, and courageous words. They provided spiritual succor to an entire community and sangha that was heartsick at the result of this election. Like the Buddha, you came and offered healing care to those who needed it. We love you, Bhante, and revere you highly. You are in our hearts always, and we send you Metta. ❤

  21. Thank you for your compassionate and wise message, Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi. It was much needed when people are drowned in reactivity. In my view, spiritual leaders have a moral obligation to speak up for ethics and welfare of all sentient beings, especially when civic institutions are weakening. After all, the bodhisattva vow is taken not only for one’s own enlightenment and freedom, but for the enlightenment and freedom of all sentient beings.

    Yes, we should separate policies from the person. If President-Elect Trump ended up pursuing policies that address the working class, reform Washington politics as usual, protect all American citizens and reinforce world peace, then we should absolutely support those policies. The election should wake all of us up to listen to the voices of working class people who have been left behind by the new economy and whose communities have disintegrated. And we pray for his well being, intelligence, and integrity. I am not being sarcastic. I mean it sincerely, since his decisions will impact millions in the US and in the world. We pray that, once he gets off the campaign trail and begins governing, he will show that he is not a racist and misogynist.

    That said, what we cannot doubt is the intolerance and hate that have already been unleashed against minorities, women, and LGBT communities . The fears of these communities are not groundless or hyped up by media. Intolerance has always been there before the election, lurking in the shadows. But now it has been emboldened and those who hold these views are now expressing them out in the open without fear. Hate incidents increased in intensity and in numbers within days after the election. Forget about policy debates for a moment. On a human plane, what does it feel like to be a Muslim family today, deciding every morning if they should be true to themselves and wear a headscarf and practice their religion but risking being open targets of hate, or choose personal safety by hiding their religious identity? What does it feel like to be an African American woman who walks on a university campus and gets harassed by a group of white men from a nearby university? What does it feel like to be a Mexican family walking your kids to high school where your kids may be taunted as they enter their schools or in school lunchrooms by their own classmates? For those of us who don’t feel these fears viscerally, we are the fortunate and privileged ones.

    And for a woman, his words on the campaign trail were not just “somewhat flippant,” but deeply offensive and simply unacceptable. If he were in a work setting and those words were exposed, he would have been fired immediately or a sexual harassment lawsuit would follow. The fact that this did not stop him from being elected is why it is so disturbing to others, not because of policy differences. So yes, we can wait and see what policies will unfold, but we cannot wait and see decades of progress in human rights being rolled back.

    After such a divisive campaign, we should focus on healing and listening to each other. We can listen to each other’s grievances and examine our media sources so that our views are not only reinforced by our existing belief systems. But let’s remember that what unite us all in America is the belief in the American ideal that equality, freedom and the pursuit of happiness is a basic human right and that we will all defend these ideals when they are in jeopardy.

    • Lotus–Thank you for your impassioned comments regarding VBB’s article on Trump. Your views, as well as VBB’s are clearly well intentioned, with the goal of achieving a more peaceful and harmonious existence for all.

      Having said that however, your comments are somewhat naive and unrealistic in our complex world. Please understand that my comments are offered on this Buddhist site in the spirit of the “right view” of things, and sometimes our perceptions are shaped by outside influences such as the press, or “celebrities”, which can create unrealistic views.

      Your first point was we should separate policies from the person, and support Trump if he listens to the working class, cleans-up the DC swamp, protects all American citizens, and pursues world peace. All good policy.

      But then you add, “We pray, when he starts governing, he will show he is not a racist and misogynist”. This sounds like he is guilty until proved innocent! Is that your version of freedom and justice?

      Here are a few points for your consideration: first, Trump made comments about Latinos who are flagrantly violating our border laws as “illegal immigrants”. He correctly pointed out that many (not all) of these people are rapists, murderers, and are selling drugs; which is verifiably true if you examine the actual crime records (which the media carefully avoids to bolster the “open borders” agenda of the current administration). In fact the California prisons are over-run by Latino gangs like MS 13.

      His comments about the Latino judge are actually grounds for recusal due to the racial issues of the case.

      There is no actual evidence that he is racist; just the media, the Clinton campaign, and the Left twisting his comments to make it appear he is racist, for obvious political gain.

      With regard to misogyny, this is an even more egregious example of unfairness and hypocrisy. Trump’s comments about Rosie O’Donnell, and the former beauty queen, as well as the “groping” comments on Youtube, while crass, and inappropriate, were hardly “new” or shocking in the realm of current standards. Indeed, as blatantly demonstrated former Presidents Kennedy, and Clinton, who had a steady stream of extra-marital liaisons with hookers and star struck interns, which was wantonly covered up by the press and sycophant staffers, Trump is in comparison a choir boy.

      Kind of a double standard when Kennedy and Clinton get a pass from the Left, but Trump gets brutally attacked for some inappropriate comments.

      Not exactly “equality for all”.

      And lest you forget, we were not electing a monk or the Pope. Leading this country requires a certain toughness and worldliness to deal with the likes of Iran, North Korea, Isis, Putin, etc. Clerics need not apply. Maybe someday this will change, I hope.

      Moreover, women are not without blame in this area of your comments as they continue to support sexuality as a woman’s weapon of choice, as illustrated by virtually every sector of our society from fashion to cinema, tv, music, internet, etc. Internet porn is a multi billion dollar industry because “sex sells”, which includes women (takes two); sad but true.

      Regarding your comments on hate and intolerance, bolstered by Trump’s win, here are some additional thoughts: Hate and intolerance have been around since the beginning of man, and are only getting worse. Indeed, the Buddha identified hate as one of the Three Poisons, and the root causes of “suffering”, stemming directly from Ignorance.

      What is indeed interesting is that most of the “hate” post election riots were sponsored by the Left in protest to Trump’s win. So much for tolerance.

      We need to understand that hate begins with ignorance, and ignorance starts in the home, schools, chuches, and neighborhoods.

      You went on to ask about the poor Latinos, or Muslims, or other minorities who have to endure “harassment” from Americans, suggesting it’s just not fair, and a sign of intolerance.

      Perhaps you should consider that literally millions of Latinos have flaunted our immigration laws and come to this country (with the help of this administration) to take advantage of the jobs and generous welfare benefits, at the expense of the taxpayers, the unemployed, and, those people who don’t want to see their native culture replaced by a completely different culture, which is what is happening. This is in effect, “stealing”; taking something high doesn’t belong to you.

      Of course, this lowers wages which the multinational corporations want, and they pay the lobbyists to get it.

      However, the American public doesn’t like it; nothing to do with race; just survival.

      Moreover, the Latino culture, as with the Muslim culture, is entirely different from ours, and that creates friction. Would you like to live under Sharia law. I don’t think so. Better to have “controlled” immigration, and guest worker programs, and help Latinos and others less fortunate by sending aid to them in their own countries, and out of the hands of corrupt politicians.

      And to your last paragraph on equality, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness, this is all well and good. However, equality does not mean everyone makes the same amount of money, because human nature being what it is, makes some people always want to do less for more, This is why the Soviet revolution after Marx fell apart, and the workers refused to strike.

      Regarding freedom, this must be established within a body of laws, or there will be chaos.

      And the pursuit of happiness must be within cultural norms so that people are not free to offend others to find their happiness.

      I hope this helps.

      T

  22. Pingback: November 2016 full moon – Turmoil – Jill Shepherd: insight meditation

  23. Pingback: All Are Welcome At San Francisco Zen Center! (…to join us in resisting Trump) | No Zen in the West

  24. Bhante,

    I am saddened to see certain people respond negatively to your insightful words. Some people are especially cruel on the internet and I hope you don’t take it personally. Many people are speaking from behind a LOT of dust in their eyes. I found your offering helpful and inspiring and I’ve shared it with friends and family. Keep it up!

    Thank you,
    Danna

    • Danna–thank you for your passion for Truth and justice.

      Please see my recent post to Regina, and add “cruel” to the name calling. What part was cruel?

      If you would like a serious dialogue on the real issues, as outlined in VBB’s article, and the efficacy and viability of my comments, please respond with real questions on policy and support your position with facts.

      Thank you,

      T

  25. Regina–Thank you for a very revealing post, reflecting complete intolerance for “other views”, which, I’m afraid, is the standard of the Left.

    While I admire your motivation to “stand up” to something you think is wrong, I would encourage you to rethink the substance of your objections.

    As proforma for the Left, when their views are questioned, they immediately attack the offender with shame and name calling, like “bullying”, mean spirited, disrespectful, ill mannered, and “bad Buddhists”. Indeed, anyone who questioned obama’s policies was immediately labeled “racist” by the administration, and a complicit media. Anyone who disagreed with Hillary was labeled a misogynist, or a offender of women’s rights; and anyone who questions open borders is immediately labeled “uncaring”, xenophobic, intolerant, and a racist bigot. And that’s just the nice stuff.

    This is SOP for the Left, right out of “Rules for Radicals” by Sol Alinsky, who by the way, was the subject of Hillary’s senior thesis at Wellesley.

    And to suggest we should never disagree with a Venerable is the antithesis of the Buddha’s teachings, which were to question dogma, and see for ourselves what the truth is. Would you blindly follow any cleric? When venerables join a public forum to promote a political point of view, they justifiably open themselves to pragmatic scrutiny.

    If you recall, it was the Clinton campaign which first raised the issue of Obama’s birth place. This issue was only exacerbated by Obama refusing to produce the birth certificate, which was rightfully in question when Obama’s developmental years were “sketchy”, and he lived in Indonesia as a child, with a father from Kenya, a stepfather from Indonesia, and an American mother. Given his intentional blocking of his transcripts from Harvard and Columbia, the fact that there was doubt is not difficult to understand. Moreover, this political jousting is hardly a substantive issue.

    As to Obama being a Constitutional Scholar, he has repeatedly and blatantly circumvented the Constitution with his Executive Orders, which a “cowed” congress refused to question. Fortunately, Trump will have the opportunity to overturn those EO’s which are harmful to our country.

    As to being a Christian, his actions speak louder than words. He has worked incredibly hard to promote Islam, and turned his back on Christianity.

    And the standard of Trump’s hyperbole about shooting someone and still being elected should perhaps be compared with similar silly comments by Joe Biden.

    And finally, your admonition for no-one to respond to those who disagree with VBB’s post (me), because there is “no apparent desire to reach unity, but rather to divide, and spread misunderstanding and I’ll-will”, is at best, a half baked attempt to foreclose further discussion.

    I welcome a well thought out rebuttal which addresses the real issues, and refrains from school yard name calling.

    T

  26. Thank you, Bhante, for your wise reflections. In the struggle to find peace after this election, I turned to your site for a compassionate and clear-eyed response and was not disappointed. Thank you very much

  27. Bhante, Now nine days after the election, I am still trying to come to turns with what the election of Trump means for the middle and lower classes in this country, as well as what it means for the world. I was actually just typing into Google, “Bhikkhu Bodhi, Trump” to see if in the odd chance you had written something about this election and to my quickly fading joy you had. I say quickly fading joy because it reopened the somewhat soothed cuts to my conscious that were caused by the election of Trump. As you say, this isn’t necessarily the end of the world, but it is something to be very concerned about despite the fact that the mass media seems to be trying to soothe over the panic that ensued immediately after his election. I have had some dark periods that I have gone through in my life, but somehow I have a foreboding premonition that for me and for millions things are going to get very dark, very fast. As someone who is in their early adult years, I am terrified at what this might mean for our country and for myself.
    On a personal level I am worried that when I am too old to be on my parents’ health insurance, I will not have any. This is unfortunate for me due to a migraine and cluster headache disorder I have which demands that I take rather costly medicine to function at a base level of normalcy. I also live in the South so I am all too aware what his election means for ethnic and race relationships, which have never reached a very good level here as compared to other parts of the country.
    What worries me most of all is the issue of anthropogenic climate change, which Trump and now people in his cabinet deny exists. The idea held by the conservatives of this country, that global warming and climate change is a hoax to prevent the already absurdly wealthy from getting even more money, is absurd. It sickens me, as I feel it probably does many, to think that the leader of the most powerful country in the world denies what is considered to be an evidence-based truth held and supported by all reputable scientists and political leaders; even some countries that do not have the best history of human rights and environmentalism. In my own short lifetime I can see the effects that it is having, I can experience it here and now, independent of all the data that backs up climate science, so I can only assume that it is by their own greed that theses people who have lived longer than I are either completely mentally incompetent or are just completely enslaved to greed. These people are leading our country now. It all seems like a terrible dream.
    Bhante, I look forward to the release of your upcoming publication, even more now after the election than before it. You probably won’t ever read this, but if you do I would like to say thank you for your works of translations and your commentary on how the words of the Buddha can positively effect our world. They are needed more now than ever.

  28. These times require moral clarity and an unflinching view of our current situation. Thank you, Bhante, for providing both.