Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

Monkey Politics

I’ve pulled my previous post on Buddhist politics as it seemed to be generating more heat than light. I apologize for the deleted attached comments as they went with it…

I’m getting old enough now to say things like, “When I was younger…” to younger co-workers. It is a bad sign since I’m only 36 so still, hopefully, not at the halfway mark.

In any case, one thing that I’ve noticed after having been around the block a few times is that there is no greener grass when it comes to groups of people and their behavior. As bad as you think the people around you are behaving, at home, your job, your church or temple, etc., it is pretty much the same everywhere else.

Let me get a handle on the black clouds this raises for a second… Ok.

What is comes down to is that people are people and will be, as a Buddhist teacher mentioned once to me, “shit flinging apes,” no matter the environment. It cannot be helped and is simply part of the human condition. Once you resign yourself to this fundamental, you will be less devastated when you both see it is organizations that you are in, in groups you respect, or even in people (including yourself).  People just have a natural tendency to jockey for position, become overly fascinated in the minutiae of a group, and develop an “insider vs. outsider” mentality.

This avoids the disillusionment that many people experience with groups over time. Groups, like people, have feet of clay. Knowing this from the outset puts people in a better position to evaluate people are human beings, flawed as we are, and institutions as the creations of those same people.

All of this being said, there are definitely groups or people that are better and worse at keeping this in line. At some point, I should post about what I consider to be the hallmarks of a good group or leader but I don’t think that I have the time to get into it today. Just keep your eyes open, watch people but remember that they, like you, are just muddling along.