Two Words: Not Always So

The secret of Zen is just two words: not always so.
Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

I don’t know why I feel drawn to this particular quote today. Perhaps it’s its anticness. And that I could use the two forms of “its” side-by-side in one sentence.

I feel sad about Ted Kennedy. He was flawed – I still don’t know where to put the death of Mary Jo Kopechne in the tapestry of his life. Perhaps I should assign it to that part of the Kennedy men that was careless – much like the male characters in Mad Men.

It makes sense that he went off the rails, given that he had two brothers who were assassinated – whose assassinations defined much of an era in my life. And, that there was this expectation that he should pick up the mantle where they left off. And that he was part of an Irish American family in an era when Irish were still working their way up that social ladder that supposedly doesn’t exist in America.

What I like about Kennedy is that I think he had a heartfelt and soulful understanding that fits my view of America: an idea and an ideal for which we are always striving. As he said of Bobby in his eulogy, some ask why, he asked why not.

I think Obama’s election represents change, just by the nature of his complexion and complexity. He is, I think, a man who can simultaneously have more than one idea. I think it was Jung who said that Americans don’t trust a man who has more than one idea.

It’s time for that to change and I think Obama represents that.

Change is scary. I think that’s why there is such vitrol being spewed at the so-called town meetings. What concerns me is elected officials who stir up that pot.

If wonder if they believe that government is an evil because they are so incompetent at governing – don’t understand the difference between governing and ruling over.

Twisting the concept of advanced care directives into death panels is at best absurd and at worst cruel. We sound incredibly ignorant when we talk like that – as if we are so lizard-brain driven that we are not capable of compassion.

Maybe we aren’t. I read yesterday that compassion is much more difficult than loving kindness because with compassion we have to be willing to experience pain – the pain of others – so we might see our connection.

Deborah Saunders, a pundit I find particularly annoying, derisively refers to “our European betters” in her column. Well, you know what, in many ways they have a bit more wisdom than we do. They know, for example, what it means to have war on their doorstep. They have had limited resources for a long time, so don’t seem to think they have a God-given right to have whatever they can afford to buy.

I think that it would serve us well as a country if we were willing to look at our own shadow instead of projecting it onto others.

So, now I need to bring this back to the quote I cited at the beginning of this blog. Two words: not always so.

Ted Kennedy accomplished so much more by being a Senator than I think he could have as president. Born to a life of privilege, he worked to open doors so merit and not privilege granted entry. And why not?

I hope that we start over with Health Care Reform and that it be done in his honor.

I hope that Senators and Congresswomen and men tell their constituents to leave their guns at home when they come to a political rally.

I hope they tell their constiuents that we are a government of, by, and for the people and the only thing we have to fear is fear itself because it is fear of the other that makes our hearts black – and turns a government to evil.

Two words: not always so.

Maybe that’s the mantra we need to use to tame fear and calm the waters. I think that mantra might have a way of opening the heart to other possibilities.

Try saying it.

Two words: not always so.

See what it does for you.

2 thoughts on “Two Words: Not Always So

  1. Has it been 13 months since ‘the last Kennedy’ died? Time sure does fly quickly, doesn’t it Mrs. Hogan? Yes, it will not always be so… whatever is now. What a miracle is the even the worst of days, if there is life in it. This too shall pass.

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