A week is a long time in politics
There has been a torrent of words since last week’s UK Referendum vote to leave the EU. Changes upon changes to unstabilised political parties. Our newspapers and TV screens are filled with news of behind the scenes plotting, uncovering of mendacity, stabbings in the back, Machiavellian tactics, changing moment to moment - almost as if one had walked onto the set of a Shakespearean or Greek tragedy. Seven days since the result was announced - yes, only seven days.
One of the most alarming, distressing, concerning aspects has been the rise, on the back of the ‘Leave’ result, of incidents of racism and xenophobia. The rhetoric of some of the campaigners, which demonised immigrants, seems to have legitimised previously held views and encouraged others to hold them. There has been a five-fold increase in reports of racial abuse, and this estimation is only of the incidents reported. It’s easy to blame others, having been told that they threaten one’s way of life and that floods of immigrants are responsible for one’s current woes. The ultra-right are having a field day.
We are all immigrants
Let’s face it, we are all immigrants - my own genetic line, through my father, is from the earliest Scottish inhabitants, hunter-gatherers who spread northwards to the Scottish Highlands ten or eleven thousand years ago, as the massive ice caps of the last Ice Age retreated. They were following the herds. Palaeolithic ‘economic migrants’, as it were, attempting to survive and feed their offspring. Every one of us is part of a bloodline that stretches back some millions of years ago to Africa. Wherever we are now, our ancestors were originally from somewhere else.
We are all immigrants, and we all live on the back of those who have travelled and endured great hardship for the continuation of our species. And we are all, somewhere far, far back, kin.
An outpouring of positivity, too
I’m glad to say that, amongst the negative news reports there are also stories of the many people who are looking for ways to support and offer comfort to members of our community who are afraid. To put themselves in the place of others, to show compassions, to have the courage to speak up for, to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
Constructiveness is the human way
“From one point of view we can say that we have human bodies and are practicing the Buddha's teachings and are thus much better than insects. But we can also say that insects are innocent and free from guile, where as we often lie and misrepresent ourselves in devious ways in order to achieve our ends or better ourselves. From this perspective, we are much worse than insects.
When the days become longer and there is more sunshine, the grass becomes fresh and, consequently, we feel very happy. On the other hand, in autumn, one leaf falls down and another leaf falls down. The beautiful plants become as if dead and we do not feel very happy. Why? I think it is because deep down our human nature likes construction, and does not like destruction. Naturally, every action which is destructive is against human nature. Constructiveness is the human way. Therefore, I think that in terms of basic human feeling, violence is not good. Non-violence is the only way.
We humans have existed in our present form for about a hundred thousand years. I believe that if during this time the human mind had been primarily controlled by anger and hatred, our overall population would have decreased. But today, despite all our wars, we find that the human population is greater than ever. This clearly indicates to me that love and compassion predominate in the world. And this is why unpleasant events are "news"; compassionate activities are so much a part of daily life that they are taken for granted and, therefore, largely ignored.”
~ H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama, from 'Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection'
Namo Amida Bu