In the wake of Trump’s election, I have found myself pondering about nonviolence, its contributions, limits, and place in my Buddhist ethics and life. Having watched Trump since the 2016 presidential campaign, I wondered when the logical migration from talking of violence to violence would occur. October 24th was the day political violence breached the bounds of custom and political dignity oozed toward a darker, more sinister spectacle. If Clausewitz were alive, he might rephrase one of his most notable aphorisms to “Terrorism of my enemies is the continuation of politics by other means.” Of course, one could also state, “Trump is the continuation of politics by other means.”
As you may know, explosives were mailed/delivered to homes of Democratic fundraiser George Soros, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, CNN’s New York studios, offices of Debbie Wassermann Schultz’s and Maxine Waters. As a result, some expressed fears that Democratic leaders were being attack in advance of America’s 2018 mid-term elections. New York police commissioner James O’Neill stated the recipients may have been selected because of their opposition to Trump.
Of course, terrorism is not unique to America. Terror attacks in France, London, Middle East, September 11th and other countries contribute to our questioning God, and more specifically, “Why?”
An article I read in UK’s Telegraph newspaper, the Archbishop of Canterbury admitted the terror attacks in Paris made him “doubt” the presence of God.
Justin Welby was left asking why the attacks happened, and where God was in the French victims’ time of need. He said he reacted with “profound sadness” at the events, particularly because he and his wife had lived in Paris.
Asked if these attacks had caused him to doubt where God is, he said: “Oh gosh, yes,” and admitted it put a “chink in his armor.”
Many would claim America was lucky. However, the resultant questions that often spring forward in my mind are similar to all ethical people. My questions are time-tested but not original, as they were noted by the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus.
- Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? If so, then He seems not so omnipotent; or
- Is He able, but not willing? As such, then He appears malevolent; or
- Is He both able and willing? Whereas then whence cometh evil; or lastly
- Is He neither able nor willing? Propose yes, then why call Him God?
Neither Epicurus nor I have received any answers.
First. What has Trump learned that most political adversaries have not? To me it’s fairly simple can be found in sacred scrolls that comprised the “Art of War.” It’s basically this, whatever you are trying to achieve, realize that you will have to pay for it in the form of time, effort, pain, and sacrifices. Anything worth having comes at a cost. The bigger the goal, the greater sacrifice is necessary.
In other words, for Trump, the end justified the means. Set your goals high, one has to be prepared to pay the price. Trump has willing gone where no American politician has been unwilling to go.
Second. It’s strange to say, but I believe God is somewhere in all the shit. My justification you ask? Not one bomb exploded. No one died. In the days ahead, survivor thoughts may scatter, from those who continue to believe in a Complete Power to those who will never trust a Complete Power again; but as a Buddhist, it is my general opinion that something of a higher cause worked today, even if the emotional toll was great. The “Faith” of coworkers, politicians and staff, firefighters, bomb experts, police, FBI and terrorism units’ breached unwritten boundaries and became part of a larger family — despite their differences. And it is within this hope that people like Trump will always lose.
In the United States, people get leaders they choose. And those leaders reflect the values of the constituents who elect them. As such, the reason President Trump is President lies not because of a fault in our stars, but in ourselves.
Want to change it? Yes?