Debate Magazine

Brief Note: The Boat in the Forest, a Sort-of Zen Analogy

Posted on the 27 February 2015 by Mikelumish @IsraelThrives
Michael L.

Brief Note:  The Boat in the Forest, a sort-of Zen AnalogyThis is just a quick thought, but it seems to me that many of our left-leaning friends are suffering from something that is warned about in an entirely different context.
Once upon a time, back in the day, I had an interest in Eastern theology, particularly Buddhism and particularly Hinayana Buddhism... Zen.  I seem to recall a little analogy out of that tradition that might be appropriate.
Buddhism is a craft.  It is a vehicle to bring the practitioner to Nirvana, a place beyond personal concerns and, therefore, the extinguishment of Karma and the conclusion of the cycle of rebirths.
Buddhism is the row-boat one uses to cross from the shore of worldly illusion to the shore of spiritual enlightenment.  However, when one reaches that shore the boat is no longer necessary.  One does not hoist the boat onto one's back and venture forth into the forest.
Many on the Left are dragging a boat into the forest and to the rest of us it just looks foolish.  Dumb.  The contemporary Left in the United States is derived from certain strands of liberalism that emerged in the 1960s and that taken together comprise what we call "identity politics."
I do not use that phrase, within this context, in a negative manner.  Not at all.  I favored - in retrospect, because the hey-day for all of this was before my time - the Civil Rights Movement and the various movements for ethnic rights, Women's Rights, GLBT and so forth and so on.  And it has to be acknowledged that these movements have been remarkably successful in a very short period of time,
The Civil Rights Movement, in particular, ushered black Americans from the period of Jim Crow to a black man in the presidency.  Despite my numerous and consistent criticisms of this president, I am still proud of the country that finally elected a black person to the highest office.
Much of the Left is dragging the boat of identity politics into the political forest.
They are manufacturing crises for the purpose of jumping up and down in the boat and thereby validating the presence of the boat in the forest, itself.
Ferguson comes to mind, as does Chapel Hill, as does the Trayvon Martin case.  In each of these, not just the activists and the people on the streets made up their minds before any meaningful evidence was in, but so did many intellectuals and journalists and mainstream liberals.   I do not know about you, but it told me that these people should absolutely be ignored on these issues because they are obviously leaping to politically convenient pre-conclusions grounded in the flimsiest of evidence.
This is not to say, you understand, that the good old US of A is free of racism or sexism.
It is merely to note that it is no longer 1963 and the US is among the most race and gender sensitive countries on the entire planet.  Sure, we're not Sweden - thank Christ - but there is not a healthy soul born in this country that does not have a fair shot at creating a decent life.
What is required at this point is consolidation of gains, "mopping up," and outlining fresh horizons.
Inner city problems remain intransigent, of course, but that is not due to institutional, or de jure, white racism.
Since, therefore, they can find so few legitimate domestic reasons to jump up and down on the boat in the public square, they make huge hooplahs out of constructed grievances, that are intensely covered by the media, thereby forcing a "national discussion" down everyone's throats concerning the brutality of white cops or the intense persecution of Muslims in America or whatever the next bit of nonsense that we will have to endure.
At this point identity politics - if I may be permitted to stray from the "boat" analogy for a moment - is a club.
It is a stick with which to beat on your political opponents and it is transparently so... if I may acknowledge the obvious while still maintaining my humanity.

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