I am Aware.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.Dwight D. Eisenhower

In doing some light research on Mahayana Buddhism (the sect of Buddhism with which I fall most in alignment) I found the following summary of the fifth “pledge” a Buddhist takes as translated (or rather, somewhat disambiguated) by Thich Nath Hanh:

[I am] Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practising mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I am committed to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society [sangha]. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practising a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.

I like what he says here about “other items” that contain toxins such as ” certain TV programs, magazines, books, films and conversations.” I have been a long-time advocate of dismantling the television from my daily life, but I hadn’t much considered magazines, books, films and conversations as possible pollutants. Well, maybe the conversations. And maybe the other stuff, too… just maybe not in this way.

I think it’s important to recognize that it’s not only food that we consume.

Still, I choose not to purchase magazines that capitalize on other peoples “indecency” or privacy; I don’t buy books written by people that I am certain to find moral disagreement and I really can’t stand mindless pulp cum “box office hit of the summer.” I would rather stare at the sky on a cloudy day.

What I really love most about the above translation is this line: “I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations.” Just beautiful.

And I sometimes worry that maybe by abstaining I put myself in some sort of false reality, until I realize that reality is just what we make it anyway. I’m aware of social injustices in the world. I’m also aware that I can do better to dismantle it by not supporting those that support injustice. Rather than give these injustices my attention and speech, I choose to support their opposites. Ultimately, activities in talking about it serve no purpose. There’s no such thing as bad press, but there is such a thing as having no support.

A proponent for peace will do his best to put his dollar where it really counts: in the hands of people who support his ideals.

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