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Lions Roar : November 2016
PHOTO©PAULBROWN/ALAMYLIVENEWS Citizenship Is a Practice MITCHELL RATNER For me, good citizenship is a bodhisattva practice. It is an opportunity to respond with an open and caring heart to the suffering in me and around me. Sometimes the practice means looking deeply into the origin of the electrical power we use. How is it pro- duced and with what repercussions? Sometimes it means preparing and serving meals at a resource center for those who are in need, offering nourishing food and an empathetic presence. Sometimes it means remembering—even in the midst of partisan conflict—that no one is our enemy. Those who are on the other side are not evil people; their hurtful words and actions arise from their suffering and igno- rance. They are deserving of compassion, not hatred. And sometimes the practice means taking overt pol- itical action, opposing injustice, dedicating ourselves to the causes that inspire us, and supporting the most mindful, caring, and competent candidates. From the personal to the political, the bodhisattva ideal of citizenship is to find common ground amid our differ- ences and to model openness, kindness, and respect. MITCHELL RATNER is founder of the Still Water Mindful- ness Practice Center in Maryland. Only Love Dispels Hate LARRY YANG Good citizenship involves more than just the political work of equity. It involves respecting the sacredness of life within each community and individual. We despair over the senseless carnage and repressive violence that we see in the world, but in the face of our despair we can hold and care for each other. In solidar- ity with our deepest humanity, we can commit to live the truth spoken of in every spiritual tradition across human history and exampled in the Buddha’s words: Hate never yet dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate. This is the truth, ancient and inexhaustible. From that truth, we create justice in the only way possible; that is, through just means. We do not attempt to justify any form of oppression; for instance, we do not try to justify racism because of terrorism. Instead, we endeavor to dissolve all oppressions, for the freedom of all communities and the justice of all beings. LARRY YANG is a core teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, California, and is on the Teachers Council of Spirit Rock Meditation Center.