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Lions Roar : May 2009
shaMBhaLa sun May 2009 13 Letters to the Editor my transFormation I’m currently incarcerated at a prison in Alabama. I’m not sure who has sponsored me to receive your maga- zine. All I know is it makes a huge difference in my life. I’ve been a practicing Buddhist for two years now. Upon my release from prison in 2011, I will be join- ing a Buddhist monastery because my destiny is to become a Buddhist monk. Thank you for such a great quality magazine, which is making a positive transformation in my and many others’ lives. Thank you, too, to the per- son who is making it possible for me to receive your magazine. I share each issue with my Buddhist friends who also appreciate your efforts to print the best of Buddhist culture. Here is a look at my transformation: James Davie Brent, Alabama razor Wire soup As a member of America’s largest monastery, com- monly known as the Department of Corrections, I thank you for Alice Walker’s wonderful essay, “Anxiety Soup” (March 2009). Not long ago, I also was cuddling in front of a fire with some smooth jazz, wandering through the mists of a slowly simmering soup. Now, however, thoughts of simple pleasures are often shredded by the raw glint of razor wire. Shortly after my arrival to this land of orange, I learned that the stan- dard fare was starches and carbs with a side of turkey. Turkey ham, ground turkey, pressed turkey—all mechanically separated and not for hu- man consumption. I also learned that in order to switch to a vegetarian diet I had to have religious reasons. I was told that moral reasons, such as objecting to the manufacturing of animals, had nothing to do with religion. My choices were Buddhist or Seventh Day Adventist, and I had to make the choice fast. I thought, “Hey! I’ve read Siddhartha and Zen Flesh Zen Bones! I was halfway there!” Little did I know that two years later I’d be med- itating (almost) daily, spending weekly visits with my small sangha, and immersing myself in the dharma. Now I take my tray of anxiety soup with gratitude. I maintain awareness that at this moment some are eat- ing anxiety soup and some are eating nothing at all. Peter Picurro Florence, Arizona Who me? The author of The Self-Esteem Trap, Polly Young- Eisendrath, shows in her interview (March 2009) why it’s a dubious proposition to speak for other gen- erations. Her answers appear to me to be a series of projections, stereotyping younger people and mak- ing excuses for her own generation. The term “me generation” was coined for Baby Boomers and in many ways for good reason. There is a strong thread of Boomers (by no means most) who emphasize self-glorifying achievement without an accompany- ing desire for responsibility. For evidence of this “I” focus, one need look no further than Boomer presi- dents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (plus Hillary Clinton in her presidential campaign: “I’m ready to lead on day one. I will fight for you”). Contrast this with Gen X-er Barack Obama’s emphasis on “we.” We Gen X-ers and younger populations have grown up in a global, multicultural, interconnected world, turkey—all mechanically separated and not for hu- man consumption. I also learned that in order to switch to a vegetarian diet I had to have religious reasons.