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Lions Roar : September 2013
paled compared to how peo- ple hit the streets during, say, the Vietnam era. Charles Krauthammer dubbed this Bush Derange- ment Syndrome (BDS)— basically ascribing all the world’s ills to the president— and it has become deeper, cra- zier, and more active now that the virus has migrated from left to right and its symptoms are projected onto President Obama. How else to explain the Tea Partiers, who had no problem with Bush’s vast spending, claiming Obama’s fiscal habits are a danger to the republic? Or the characterization of this barely left-of-cen- ter politician who has treated Wall Street with kid gloves as some kind of socialist class warrior and aspiring tyrant? This epic level of anger is most visible on the level of national politics, but it has trickled all the way to the bottom. By bottom I am referring not only to the guy in the Volvo who gave me the finger but also to the comments section of any website that allows them. The Internet has enabled the anger, allowing it to spin like a Catherine wheel, spreading toxicity everywhere. Why is America so angry? Someday, someone will write a book about how we arrived at American apoplexy, but for now let’s be more forward-looking and consider what some people are doing about it other than consuming massive levels of prescription medication. One of the things they’re doing is meditating. This explains the rise of what is known as applied mindfulness, which offers practices to develop the capacity to deal with their anger skill- fully. People from many religious backgrounds have engaged with this work without giving up their own spiri- tual identities. They can celebrate the High Holi- days and still meditate each morning without annoying their rabbis. They can sing hymns and eat fruitcake at Christmas while still attending their sitting group. Chances are you or some- one you know practices a form of medita- tion. Major universities are researching the effects of these practices. Young children are being taught mindfulness, and not just the ones on Adderall. Apart from scale, anger is no different on the national level than it is in preschool. When little Emma takes Jacob’s toy truck, Jacob’s anger springs from his thwarted need to possess the object. He is thinking about what he wants, or thinks he wants. Emma, of course, is thinking about what she wants. A fundamental Buddhist belief is that all people want to be SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2013 26