Culture war pacifism

I stumbled upon this Dhamma talk, entitled Culture war pacifism, and it hits on a few things I’ve been thinking about lately.

The main idea is that Buddhists, and I think this would apply to anyone from a historical tradition, should be somewhat aloof from the culture wars of American politics. Many people who sincerely believe they are standing up against “fascism” while always being “up to date” are in a constant state of anger.

The heart of the Buddhist path is renouncing anger and aversion, you can’t develop spiritually if you sit stewing in it all day.

The Buddhist Sangha is about 2,500 years old, which makes it one of the oldest institutions in the world. Sometimes we need to take a step back and realize that in a broader context, our daily squabbles don’t mean all that much.

This isn’t an invitation to quietism. Instead, turn off the constant updates, don’t make every interaction about the culture wars. You can stay informed by reading a few high-quality long-form pieces of journalism a week. Focus more on local news, like building better bike infrastructure (ok, the bike thing wasn’t in the Dhamma talk, but local news was).

I’ve been thinking about this as video of a beheaded Ukrainian soldier has been making the rounds among my friends. Watching this won’t tell me anything that I don’t already know about Russia and Russians. Instead of anger, I’m thinking of compassion — this war isn’t going to be over anytime soon, there are countless Ukrainian charities that need support.