Puja of Wrath

Perfect love casteth out fear,
but oh God, who will cast out Bush?


Dear Junardi:

Thank you for sending the Ram Dass piece, Heart to Heart Resuscitation. It was interesting to read about his Puja table, and his practice, every morning, of lighting the candles and opening his heart to all the people whose pictures he keeps there. His point is well taken that the profound change of consciousness necessary to effect social change requires keeping a mug shot of President Bush on our Puja tables, and acknowledging that he too is part of the brotherhood of man.

I agree with Ram Dass. We all participate in terrorism to the extent that we become sources of negativity. The only antidote to terror is peace, an inner state that resides in and flows only from ourselves. I do believe that. If it seems inadequate to the urgency of the problem we face, it is also true that clamorous denunciations of Bush & Co., of the kind to which I am prone, are bound to have a destabilizing effect on society and to cripple my own ability to reach the deep, quiet spaces of my heart. Fadda Joe is also concerned that my shorts are overly in a bunch about these guys. I denounce the compounding of animosity when I argue against the death penalty, so to be consistent I should see that my harsh treatment of the President rests on comparable levels of endarkenment.

Having said that, let me say this:

I can distinguish two different acts of compassion here. One is to envelope our errant brother George in love, opening our hearts and filling him with light. In so doing we promote the spread of an aura of peace, heart to heart, candle to candle, until John Lennon comes back to life and we are once again swimming in jelly beans.

The other act of compassion however, and more urgent in my thinking, is to make George stop killing people as quickly as we can. The family record is 100,000 (killed) and young George must be halfway there already. Those now and future dead are also souls, each one of them just as important as Ol’ Dubyuh, God bless him. It is a case of one particular part of the Great Oneness killing off thousands of other parts of the Great Oneness like a ravening beast. Certainly we don't want to aggravate the negative energy of it all, but in the meantime, while we're waiting for the positive juju to make it from our Puja tables to Bush's brain, or just on the off chance that the resuscitation doesn’t work, that his heart doesn’t fill up with light and that he just keeps on acting that way, I would still propose that we keep a side prayer going, on behalf of all the countless people who might thereby be spared, for the universe to send some kind of truck to hit him.

Dubyuh is not some lost penitent sitting in a prison cell someplace, asking us for inclusion and forgiveness for his past crimes. This lamb is still out on the street, on the loose like Ted Bundy, whacking the life out of our brothers and sisters helter skelter as we speak. The crime is in progress. So first we need to get a SWAT team in there to arrest him and take away his weapons, and then I'd say we could start wishing him well pretty much from that point on.

Even knowing that the process will be unavoidably painful to him, we need to hold it in our hearts that he will lose elections, or lacking that, that he will be indicted or suffer a stroke. That when he crosses a street he will fail to get to the other side, or that, if there were going to be a plane crash anyway, maybe it could crash on the President. We take no pleasure in sending bad fortune his way. It's just that innocent people are in peril, and he needs to go immediately down. Following which, along with his henchmen, he also should be locked up or tied to something.

Imagine being able to send a letter off to Syria and Iran and Egypt and Yemen and Pakistan and Korea telling all those folks that the Americans are not going to come and kill them after all. Imagine being able to turn our attention to repairing the damage, or maybe even putting our vast resources to some positive use. It wouldn’t be inappropriate, pursuant to the rediscovery of American Goodness, to support Dubyuh 100% in changing himself from a phony, smirky, murderous poppinjay into a decent human being (at his own pace of course), as long as the Maximum Security Warden at Huntsville is willing to put him into a faith based therapy program of some kind.

Ram Dass and I went through all of this with Lyndon Johnson. Let us share that story with you. Lyndon wasn't such a bad guy. He had a liberal vision for a fair society. He wanted little children to get enough to eat, and to grow up in a world of opportunity and decency. Yet somehow, in his well-meaning but pigheaded Texas brain these fine impulses ran afoul of the myth of the Worldwide Communist Conspiracy, and without wavering from the belief that he wore a white hat, without ceasing to be a beloved child of Christ, he became one of history’s foremost monsters. By the time he went home to Texas to die he had killed 57,000 American soldiers and over a million Vietnamese men, women and children.

Let’s imagine, shall we, what a million dead people looks like. Take 30 Wall Street Journal pages and carpet the floor of your house with them. Pretend that every character of type on those pages, every “p” and “q” and “r” and comma is a dead person. (We're not counting the wounded.) Imagine the pain of each and every one of those people as they were ripped apart by hot shrapnel or burned alive by flame throwers. Imagine the pain of their widows and orphans, their mothers and fathers, and the desolation of those peripheral lives. Imagine the past experience, the education, the gifts of each of these people, all their future possibilities and what they might have contributed to the world had they not been terminated. Let lines radiate from each dead person to the unborn children and unrealized dreams sacrificed by each one to the daily body count. Unique, individual souls, precious to God every one, and as deserving of our compassion as anybody else.

Now let us set alongside all of this the soul of Lyndon Johnson (or George Bush), represented by a single letter “j” (or “w”), that soul that Ram Dass wants to be sure we don’t forget, that individual, filled with errant but kindly motives, whose picture somehow makes it to Ram Dass’ Puja table ahead of all those others. Isn't it a bit ludicrous to single him out for an act of compassion, and not to add to our morning greetings all of the names on those miles of black Vietnam Memorials, all of the uncounted dead and dismembered from Kabul to Baghdad? Should we not hope for the inclusion, each by each, of all such pilgrims in the Great Oneness?

Generals and Presidents and evil dictators have in common that they are not, in their official capacity, human beings at all. They are instruments, proxies of the body politic, hirelings of corporate bodies. If you are a personal friend of the family, it might be nice to whisper a brief prayer of compassion on their behalf, or send a note of condolence to their mothers, but as witnesses to their calamitous behavior we mostly just want them stopped, and whether the agent of that merciful cessation is a change of heart or a falling piano doesn’t matter very much to me.

It wasn't the gentle Beatles singing Mother Mary or the infectious love and joy of the Maharishi that made Lyndon decide to withdraw his energy from the disaster he had created. It was rage. It was militant mothers rolling trams down Pennsylvania Avenue, angry amputee vets, ghastly war photos, the Tet offensive, the unmistakable connection between our obsessive destruction of Vietnamese society and our own cities going up in flames. Presenting him daily with the horror of his mistakes was, strangely, an appeal to his better nature, and it succeeded.

Whether we hated LBJ (I don’t think we did) or Nixon or the Bush family or Joe Stalin or Pol Pot was not the thrust of our wish and effort to depose them. They can't be distinguished from bombs that stop falling or guns that stop firing or any other mechanism of brutality that needs to be put away. Let’s send them a box of chocolates after they have been driven from office, when they are home, broken and confused and harmless - defanged, gelded and brooding over their memoirs.

This week, thanks to a months-long litany of strident, unpeaceful voices hollering bloody murder that George W. Bush is a god damned contemptible liar, the approval rating of this invulnerable twerp has slipped to where most Americans would rather not re-elect him. Imagine how the hopes of the world would brighten if that were to remain so.

When he is gone he is gone. If he is never held accountable for his crimes this will be fine with me. Let’s just have him gone. Let’s make him gone. It won’t be hate that causes us to spit him out and move on. It will be revulsion, disgust at the vile consequence of our perverted education system and our loss of decency. Lets leave him behind us on the trail and make Ram Dass our President. And fix the hole in the ozone, and put the uranium back into the mines (as Richard Brautigan once suggested) deep in the earth where it can never harm anybody again.

Yours very cordially,