When reasonable adults need to solve problems, they don't try to tear each other down. If only our leaders in Washington had learned that there is much they can achieve if they just reached out to each other in cooperation.
I recently read about a brief dialogue between the Brazilian theologian, Leonardo Boff and the Dalai Lama. They were participating at a roundtable discussion about religion and freedom. Boff maliciously asked "Your holiness, which is the best religion?" Boff expected the Lama to say "Tibetian Buddhism" or "oriental religions much older than Christianity." The Lama smiled and looked Boff in the eyes.
The Lama answered, "The best religion is the one that gets you closest to God. It is the one that makes you a better person." Boff asked, "What is it that makes me better?"
The Lama responded "Whatever makes you more compassionate, more sensible, more loving, more detached, more humanitarian, more responsible, more ethical. The religion that does that for you is the best religion."
The Lama continued, "I am not interested, my friend, if you are religious or not. What really is important to me is your behavior in front of your peers, family, work, community and the whole world ... the universe is the echo of our actions and our thoughts. The law of action and reaction is not exclusively for physics. It is also of human relations. If I act with Goodness, I will receive Goodness. If I act with Evil, I will get Evil. What our grandparents told us is the pure truth. You will always have what you desire for others. Being happy is not a matter of destiny. It is a matter of options."
Finally he said:
"Take care of your thoughts because they become words.
"Take care of your words because they become actions.
"Take care of your actions because they become habits.
"Take care of your habits because they will form your character.
"Take care of your character because it will form your destiny, and your destiny will be your life."
"There is no religion higher than the truth."
Just think of where we would all be today if we lived more compassionately with truth as our foundation. Americans are overwhelmed with many complex problems: the oil spill, unemployment, immigration reform, health care, education, financial meltdowns, foreclosures, two wars in far-off places where we are losing our young. The list seems endless.
Rather than inspiring people to work together in cooperation, the talking heads on radio and TV spew hatred and misinformation to further divide us. And the people listen and regurgitate it. Our elected leaders point fingers rather than admit that collectively they have created the problems. Years of their irresponsible actions have brought us to where we are today. Even now, they are unwilling to put their country ahead of their ambitions or their party.
Because it is their responsibility to define rules, policies and laws so that people can live better lives, it is up to us, the electorate, to set higher standards for them and to hold them responsible for what they do on our behalf. We have a duty to expel the individuals who are unwilling to take ownership for their past decisions and to select only those leaders who believe in cooperation, not in the usual partisan squabbling.
Take, for example, the ongoing debate on immigration reform. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has flip-flopped on the issue of protecting our borders.
When he was running for the presidency, he was against building a border fence because he said it would not work. Now he promotes it because that is the only way he has a chance of getting elected.
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, is also making a big deal about having a stronger border as if that is all there is to immigration reform.
The use of additional resources along our border -- including the deployment of the National Guard, detention beds, drones, fences, etc. -- adds up to approximately $2 billion. History has taught us that two decades of border enforcement efforts have been costly and ineffective.
We could learn something from the policies of Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar, and Kuwait regarding millions of foreign workers.
These people don't seek citizenship, just better wages to support their families at home.
A simple employment ID card allows this. The countries do not grant citizenship to the workers or to their children born there.
The FY 2009 budget of the U.S. Border Patrol stood at $3 billion, nine times what it was in 1992. Since then, the illegal alien population has more than quadrupled in size, from 3.5 million in 1992 to about 15 million today.
This example shows how far our leaders in Washington are from being willing to tackle the tough issues rather than focusing on how to get re-elected so that they can maintain power.
Leaders must have vision and integrity to lead the country in the right direction. I wonder how much bipartisan support Kennedy would get today for saying "We are going to the moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard."
I'll close with this quote: "An eye for an eye makes the world go blind." -- Mahatma Gandhi
Kulkarni lives in Perry.