Browsing Category "Social Justice"
1 Jun
Posted in: Racism, Social Justice
By    Comments Off on Not Just New Orleans

Not Just New Orleans

I want to say how impressed and uplifted I am by Mitch Landrieu’s speech on the removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans, and encouraged that St. Louis’s new mayor, Lyda Krewson, is moving in the same direction (although so far without the power of such a fabulous speech).

Missouri was a slave state, and just like New Orleans, St. Louis has a terrible history that some have tried to “whitewash” by playing down the brutal realities of slavery.

Quoting from Landrieu’s speech:
“New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were bought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor, of misery, of rape, of torture. America was the place where nearly 4000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp. So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions, why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame… all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans. So far those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it

We cannot be afraid of our truth. As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, ‘A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.’…

“I knew that taking down the monuments was going to be tough, but you elected me to do the right thing, not the easy thing and this is what that looks like. So relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, this is not about blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once.

“This is however about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile and most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong. Otherwise, we will continue to pay a price with discord, with division and yes with violence.” [Ferguson!]


Mayor Krewson: If New Orleans can do it, St. Louis can do it too. Start working on that speech!

14 Apr
Posted in: Activism, Social Justice, Teachers
By    Comments Off on Peacefulness Does Not Mean Passiveness

Peacefulness Does Not Mean Passiveness

I want to make sure no one misses this article in the May issue of Lion’s Roar magazine titled,
Stand Against Suffering: An Unprecedented Call to Action by Buddhist Teachers.

Here’s an excerpt:
Buddhism does not align itself with any party or ideology. But when great suffering is at stake, Buddhist must take a stand against it, with lovingkindness, wisdom, calm minds, and courage….

Buddhism in the United States brings together people of many different backgrounds, interests, and views. Some Buddhists emphasize mediation practice, while others focus on study, community, or faith. Some are politically liberal and others conservative. Some prefer to keep their Buddhist practices separate from political and social issues, while others are deeply engaged.

Yet one thing binds us all tougher: our commitment to ease the suffering of all beings. The dharma is not an excuse to turn away from the suffering of the world, nor is it a sedative to get us comfortably through painful times. It is a powerful teaching that frees and strengthens us to work diligently for the liberation of beings from suffering.

What is happening now strikes at the heart of this, our central commitment as Buddhist. It transcends our differences and calls us to action. If the policies of the new administration prevail, millions of people in vulnerable and less privileged communities will suffer. Hopes will be dashed. Undoubtable, lives will be lost. International conflict will intensify and environmental destruction will worsen.

Facing the reality of this suffering, we remember that peacefulness does not mean passiveness and non-attachment does not mean non-engagement

Whatever our political perspective, now is the season to stand up for what matters. To stand against hate. To stand for respect. To stand for protection of the vulnerable. To care for the earth.

We can see clearly the work ahead of us. It is the work of love and wisdom in the face of racism, gender- and sexual orientation-based violence, xenophobia, economic injustice, war, and environmental degradation…

As Buddhists, we know that real change begins with ourselves. We must explore and expose our own privilege and ares of ignorance, and address racism, misogyny, class prejudice, and more in our communities. We can set an example for the broader society by creating safe, respectful, and inclusive sanghas….

For now, we prepare to face challenging and stressful times. To prevail, we must hold fast to our timeless ideals of wisdom, love, compassion, and justice. We must maintain our faith that, while ignorance and hatred may at times be dominant, through concerted action patiently pursued we can create a society based on justice, love, and human unity.”

(To read the full article, click here.)

23 Jan
Posted in: Social Justice
By    Comments Off on It. Was. Awesome!!!!!!

It. Was. Awesome!!!!!!










13 Jan
Posted in: Social Justice
By    Comments Off on Call Every Day

Call Every Day

On Tuesday, I posted an excerpt from Jack Kornfield’s article Now is the Time to Stand Up, and I really felt like he was talking to me when he said not to worry if the Right Action is not yet clear to you. (Because it hasn’t been clear to me and I have been worrying.)

Then on Wednesday, I had lunch with a sangha friend (thanks, Akiko), who mentioned that she tries to make a call — every day — to a legislator.

And then today my CDL Buddy (thanks, Carolyn) said the same thing — she also calls every day, to a different office, always between 9:00 and 9:30 am — and then I thought: THIS IS SOMETHING THAT I CAN DO.

So between now and the day I leave for retreat, I will call a legislator — every day — and take a stand. I used to call occasionally, back when George W first got elected, but it didn’t feel like it was very useful, so I stopped.

But then I read this article in the New York Times: Here’s Why You Should Call, Not Email, Your Legislator. It says:

Ms. Waite, who volunteers for liberal causes and who created a widely shared document last week to teach others her methods, figures that a phone ringing off the hook is more difficult for a lawmaker to ignore than a flooded inbox.

“Activists of all political stripes recommend calling legislators, not just emailing — and certainly not just venting on social media. Several lawmakers, along with those who work for them, said in interviews that Ms. Waite is right: A phone call from a constituent can, indeed, hold more weight than an email, and far outweighs a Facebook post or a tweet.”

OK. So until another Right Action becomes clear to me, I am going to make daily calls. Ms. Waite says to call Party Leadership as well as your own representatives. (She’s also got sample scripts posted for key issues. Click here.)

Jack’s right. The time is now. Want to join me? If you live in St. Louis, here’s who to call:

Sen. Roy Blunt’s office in St. Louis/Clayton is: 314-725-4484
Sen. Claire McCaskill’s office in St. Louis is: 314-367-1364
Rep. Lacy Clay’s office in St. Louis is: 314-367-1970
Rep. Paul Ryan’s office in Washington, DC is: 202-225-3031
Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office in Washington, DC is: 202-225-4965
Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office in Washington, DC is: 202-224-2541
Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office in Washington, DC is: 202-224-6542

10 Jan
Posted in: Social Justice
By    1 Comment

We Don’t Stand Alone


I just want to say how proud I am of the teachers at Spirit Rock, who are standing up for what matters:

Amidst the political and social challenges of our times and in light of our commitment to liberation, Spirit Rock declares itself to be a spiritual sanctuary and a refuge for all. (Read the full Statement of Values here.)

It’s time for us all to stand up too.

We will not be alone. As founder Jack Kornfield writes in Practicing the Dharma in Times of Uncertainty, Part 2:

Whatever your political perspective, now is the season to stand up for what matters….

It is time to collectively stand up, calm and clear. With peacefulness and mutual respect, our Buddhist communities can become centers of protection and vision. Protection can take many forms. Protection can be providing sanctuary for those in danger. Protection can be skillfully confronting those whose actions would harm the vulnerable among us. Protection can be standing up for the environment. Protection can be becoming an active ally for those targeted by hate and prejudice….

Do not worry if the Right Action is not yet clear to you.

Wait in the unknowing with mindfulness and a clear heart.

Soon the right time will come and you will know to stand up.

I will meet you there.
Love in the Dharma,

(Read Jack’s full text here.)

10 Sep
Posted in: Practice, Social Justice, Talks
By    Comments Off on I Wonder If I Should Help

I Wonder If I Should Help

For today, more from the interview with Jack Kornfield I quoted yesterday.

In Zen, they say there are only two things: you sit and you sweep the garden. And it doesn’t matter how big the garden is. That is, you learn to quiet the mind and open the heart and to remember in that stillness what really matters. Those are the values of the heart and who you are. You discover that who you are is loving-awareness itself, incarnated into this mystery. And as you do, the sense of connection to life shows itself. You don’t even have to cultivate it. As you get quiet, you feel it and you know it. And then you get up from your cushion and you sweep the garden. If people are hungry, you feed them. If people are sick and you have medicine, you offer it, because they’re part of you.


When you hurt your hand, if you’re slicing tomatoes in the kitchen and you accidentally cut yourself, you don’t go, “Oh, that poor hand. I wonder if I should help it. Should I do something about it?” It’s you! It’s part of you. It’s so deeply obvious that you wash it and you put on a Band-Aid or whatever. And as you quiet the mind and open the heart, you begin to realize that the world is you, that you are the world. And so it becomes a spontaneous and beautiful expression of your fundamental Buddha-nature, your fundamental goodness, that you tend the world.

Without mindfulness or compassion training, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and think, “Well, all the problems of the world are too great. I just have to get through the day and try as best I can.” Mindfulness makes it easier to step out of the sense of being overwhelmed. You see with clearly. And you realize: “I can respond in some way. I have some agency and capacity. And I can add my piece.”

And by adding your drop into the river–the river of justice or the river of mutual care or the river of caring for the environment–it nurtures you, and it nurtures the world.


(read the full interview here

25 Aug
Posted in: Social Justice
By    Comments Off on 5 K(arma) Walk

5 K(arma) Walk

Meditators do more that just sit!

On Sunday, Oct 4, the Buddhist Council of Greater St. Louis will host a 5K (Karma) Walk to Feed the Hungry, an annual fundraiser to benefit Buddhist Global Relief, founded by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

When: Sunday, October 4, beginning at 1:00 pm
Where: Tower Grove Park, Sons of Rest Pavilion (SE corner of the park)
Suggested donation: $25 to participate (includes a T-shirt)
More info and to register: Click here.