Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Republican infighting intensifies as Tea Party notches wins

Bruising Republican primary battles, many involving Tea Party candidates, have led to intense Republican infighting that has left GOP officials worried they could end up squandering big opportunities to pick up seats in the House, Senate and governor's mansions in November.
The GOP's worries were fully articulated in a plea from New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman John Sununu, who wrote an op-ed piece in Granite State papers pleading with GOP candidates to curb the negative attacks on each other. It ran under the headline, "Republican Fratricide Makes Winning Easier for Democrats."
Read more at the Washington Examiner:

The Practical Buddhist Responds: Right Speech

The Buddha taught an Eightfold Path as a way to end suffering. Together with the Four Noble Truths, it summaries basic Buddhism. It is completely practical and can guide thought and action, ultimately freeing us from attachments and crazy thoughts and leading to deep understanding and compassion. The Eightfold Path is not a set of commandments -- Buddhism has none -- but a guide to practice.

The third principle of the Path is Right Speech.  Right speech is not about being correct, but about being ethical and moral  in what we say. Words can ruin lives or save lives, start wars or forge peace. The Buddhist strives to

1. Abstain from false speech, and to avoid all lies and deceit of every kind.

2. Abstain from slander and any malicious words against others.

3. Abstain from harsh words that can offend or hurt others.

4. Abstain from idle or pointless chatter.

That's a very tall order.  Political speech been so ugly and mean and deceitful that we now expect it. Talk radio shows take it even further, pandering all day long to fears, prejudices, and hatreds of people who feel marginalized or oppressed.  At least some talk show hosts like Limbaugh excuse their behavior with the claim "I'm not a journalist, I'm an entertainer." Politicians, on the other hand, seem to expect to be taken seriously, though some  exploit the talk radio shows for their own gain.

Evil, unethical speech leads to more of the same. When a leader speaks simple truth gently, clearly, and strongly it is unexpected and may fall on ears deafened by noise and lies. 

The very least the practical Buddhist can do is to listen with compassion and avoid becoming infected with the hatred and rancor behind wrong speech.  Even better, the practical Buddhist can model right speech, avoid the poison of talk radio and apply skillful means to the political process.

If you were active in politics or in the media, what could you do to practice and protect right speech?  Please comment.

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