I liked it but I am disappointed. Disappointed because of all the spoilers. No, not on Amazon, Goodreads or elsewhere, but on the news media. Most of the blockbusters were discussed on cable news (often times with Woodward and Costa) or quoted in web news. One could reasonably expect the reading audience would be folks who watch or read such reports. If so, what new you learn from the book are details. Details that serve to illustrate or confirm the journalistic and writing credentials of the authors and stuff not juicy enough for prerelease.
From that experience, if you are a person like me, you would be best served avoiding all reports and promos and taking on faith that writers you know will offer something startlingly good. For a book like this, that would be difficult at best given all the coverage.
The one major surprise was the significant amount of reporting on Biden’s campaign, decision making and more. That covers some number of years and events. Possibly as much as fifteen percent or more of the book. Trump and his cult followers, formerly known as the Republican party, are covered in depth on the peril they pose for American democracy’s future. That threat continues growing.
If you don’t follow news of any sort, this book may offer a lot of shocking information to you. Otherwise, it offers some element of schadenfreude–along with increasing your fears for the country.
As I said then, it would be difficult. Even more difficult than I expected. Not due to the resistance of ordinary folks, but to all those members of the Trump Cult.
My natural inclination is to simply say:
Get over it—he lost!
But they won’t buy that. They have drunk gallons of his Trump Kool-Aid and believe in him with all their hearts. The election was rigged and stolen from him.
They also believe one or all these options about COVID-19:
It’s a hoax
It’s no worse than a cold or at worst a flu and people get over it
Masks are worse than useless—they are an infringement on one’s freedom
Likewise, social distancing and closing bars, restaurants, gyms, etc.
Worse, they make death threats against even Republicans who won’t help Trump in reversing the election resultsthrough whatever means he and his associates try. Somewhat skilled attorneys withdrew after winning but one of 38 plus cases. Leaving semi to unskilled attorneys to continue frivolous lawsuits that judicially speaking ought to incur sanctions against them or referrals to the bar for misconduct.
Those are the facts. But what will I make of them?Will I deplore those who fall for the lies?Pity those who may die of COVID because of him? Many probably have already. Statistical analysis suggests surges associated with Trump rallies and in those parts of the country where votes for him were higher than for Biden.
Trump didn’t bring the virus here.He did mock those who took it seriously. They accepted his direction on this and other things. He didn’t suffer physically, so far, for his dismissal of the virus. His supporters have found his assurances persuasive—he is their political messiah. Republican elected officials, in fear or support of Trump, continue likewise to follow the same patterns of COVID oblivion—even as they or their constituents succumb to the virus.
Should I sink into the pit of hatred, vitriol and derisive attacks on those who offer death threats even to fellow Republicans who don’t support Trump in overturning Biden’s victory. NO! If I do, I can’t help heal the division. I must accept their humanity and, from my faith perspective, their inherent Buddhahood.
Yes, a difficult proposition.Whether you who read this find the principles, the concepts or tenets, of Buddhism persuasive, you still may find it difficult to accept the humanity of the Trump faithful if you are not among them.That’s the challenge if we are to get beyond the present turmoil.
We have an economy in tatters. Sickness and death confront us at the hands of an unthinking enemy we call coronavirus, COVID-19 or more formally–SARS-CoV-2. We have a would-be autocrat striving to milk the last bit of financial fortune and power from his tenure in the White House. Even he has a Buddha nature. Even he has a shred of humanity within his angry and hate-filled heart. It’s barely visible, but it’s there. As much as I have demonized, satirized and condemned him on this blog, I know that to be true. Still, he must pay for his crimes and suffer the effects of the karma he has created. He already has, at the hands of the voters. Beyond that, there are legal and financial perils ahead that he will likely face.
In the meantime, we must rescue and rehabilitate America from the harms he has inflicted. Reestablish a rule of law. An independent Justice Department. Oversight of the actions of the Executive Branch—which, according to the US Constitution is subordinate to Congress. The latter makes the laws, appropriates the money and declares war. The President and those in the administration implement and enforce those laws. He and the rest of the Executive Branch must yield to the scrutiny of how well and how lawfully are executing the laws passed by Congress that give him authority to act.
America has barely—and not yet completely, escaped becoming a dictatorship. Aided and abetted by a GOP controlling the Senate. There is lots to do. But political reforms are just treating symptoms. The underlying disease is what must be addressed. A disease of Us and Them.
That’s enough for now. We will be making updates as often as we can. Not so much on what politicians and ostensible national leaders are doing. No, on what’s happening among the populace. Who, myself included, are reaching out and making connections with the other side.
As Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address, we need a
“new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Had Trump won, those famous words might very well have been for naught—due to Trump’s intentions and those he put into his second administration.
Joe Biden is President-Elect–so say all the major media, including Fox News.
A change is coming but not the radical one those on the other side feared. The Democrats lost seats in the House and at best may get a tie in the Senate.
The good news is that America dodged the bullet of losing its democracy and slipping into autocracy. Now, the people of America, led by a President who intends to serve ALL the people and to heal the partisan and cultural divisions will have the chance to be truly United States.
That won’t be easy. There will be resistance to change, this time by those who were enamored of Trump and enabled by him to defend white privilege. Also by those who feared “Socialism” would come to America (it never was coming and certainly isn’t now). Or some who thought COVID-19 was a hoax or would go away by itself.
There will be resistance by some of the progressive members of the Democratic party who were looking forward to establishing new policies that others viewed as a bridge too far. Not happening in 2021 or 2022.
Consider this excerpt (those of you who live in the US, at least) from a very long article in the 2nd Eagle Peak Annual, published on October 30th. It offeredcommentary and analysis on three books. Just check the link to see which ones.
We all live here, in these United States. We depend on one another producing goods and supplying services. Goods that we wear. That we use in our daily lives. Services at medical facilities, schools, retail stores, repair shops and more. “Can’t we all just get along?” Asked Rodney King in 1992, a victim of police brutality that resulted in costly riots in Los Angeles. Nearly 30 years later, the answer remains uncertain.
Here’s a couple more excerpts, snippets really, from that item on the Annual.
But change is sorely needed. Policy changes. Dealing effectively, for a change, with the still deadly dangerous pandemic. Spurring economic recovery. And healing the divisions of race, class and party.
Political solutions are not a panacea. Yes, we all hope that the candidates we vote for will keep their promises made on the campaign trail. Promises that suggest if only we did X, Y and Z instead of A, B and C, we all would be happier and more prosperous. We should all know better by now!
Don’t rely on elected officials to do it all! We all need to work together within our shared humanity to make America a better, more prosperous and more just nation. Don’t believe all the stuff that people post on social media–conspiracy theories and nonsense abound there. Verify through fact checking sources, what you do see on such sites. Go beyond the echo chambers of your favorite news sources that tell you what you want to hear. Make new friends among your neighborhood and community.
Finally, let’s get to the title of this post. It comes from a book by Daisaku Ikeda. Hope Is a Decision. My review of the book appears below.
For 43 years I have been practicing the engaged Buddhism that Daisaku Ikeda has spread throughout the world over the last 60 years. While you might suppose that indicates a bias on my part in writing this review. On the other hand, you might conclude that I know the extent of wisdom he can share. That said, I should also note that this book is neither an introduction to Buddhism nor an appeal to follow it’s teaching. It is what the title implies and the review below describes.
Even after so many years, one needs encouragement now and then. One needs words to share with others, words that provide hope in times of crisis. In the US and around the world we have been in a variety of crises–the worst pandemic in 100 years, poverty, political turmoil and more.
This is a very inspirational book of essays, with comments on the wisdom of poets, writers and historians from throughout the world. It’s easy enough to give in to despair, as Ikeda points out. At the same time, as the title says, hope is a decision that one can make. He spells it out in a series of essays written over decades. Here’s a couple examples. Both are from page 14 and 15 of the Kindle edition.
The moment we make a powerful resolve, every nerve and fiber in our being will immediately orient itself toward the fulfillment of this goal or desire. On the other hand, if we think, “This is never going to work out,” then every cell in our body will be deflated and give up the fight. Hope, in this sense, is a decision. It is the most important decision we can make. Hope changes everything, starting with our lives. Hope is the force that enables us to take action to make our dreams come true. It has the power to change winter into summer, barrenness to creativity, agony to joy. As long as we have hope, there is nothing we cannot achieve.
There may be times when, confronted by cruel reality, we verge on losing all hope. If we cannot feel hope, it is time to create some. We can do this by digging deeper within, searching for even a small glimmer of light, for the possibility of a way to begin to break through the impasse before us.
Starting now, you won’t see so many knocks on the current president of the US. They won’t be needed soon. We may have some comments on what transpires in the White House or the administration over the 70+ days until Biden is inaugurated. Perhaps some coverage of what happens in the life of Trump thereafter.
What you will see, often, is progress on the front of healing the wounds in America. Finding a path to accomplishing positive results in controlling the pandemic, restoring the economy, restoring civility and more.
“Great events never have minor omens. When great evil occurs, great good follows.” So says Nichiren, founder of one of the largest sects of Buddhism. The Buddhism that this writer has practiced for 43 years. That great good doesn’t come automatically.
We’ve said it before. We say it again with more confidence, as people are changing not just in America but around the world. We’ll stick to what we know best, America, in commenting on this principle.
While others might recount the founders of the United States, he extolled as heroes, those who sought to divide it. Confederate generals that seceded in rebellion against the union. All in the name of maintaining their right of dominion over other humans–unwilling people of African descent first as slaves then as lesser beings not entitled to the privileges of whites.
He castigated those who would have torn down a statute of President Andrew Jackson as ignorant of America’s heritage. Hardly, they knew full well Jackson was the one to who forcibly removed Native Americans from their historic lands to arid lands two-thirds of a way across the country. All so that Whites could settle in their verdant land. Thousands of the Cherokee died on that “Trail of Tears.” People who had a higher literacy rate than those whites who were freed from English prisons to settle in Georgia.
As we’ve said here before, Biff [AKA Trump] is the divider-in-chief. He want’s no “perfect union”—he wants a people filled with contempt for those different from themselves. His notion of making America great again is restoring those times when white supremacy was the law and the dominant culture of America.
Rather than honoring those who gave their lives in defense of the US against foreign adversaries, he and his minions ignore the payment of bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan by Russia. We still don’t know what hold it is that Vladimir Putin has on him, but it’s clear that Biff owes his allegiance to Russia, not America. Continue reading From Great Evil Comes Great Good–Eventually, If We Do Our Part→
Seeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions
This website uses limited cookies. By accepting, you agree. Find out more on the privacy page. AcceptReject
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.