Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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I’ve Been Waiting A Long Time To Feel This Way

I’m truly proud to be an American these last few days.  It’s heartening to see my country finally stepping up and leading in an endeavor from which it can expect to gain nothing but the knowledge that it did the right thing — and the approval, at last, of the rest of the world.  It’s been far too long.

For nearly two centuries we have been the tough kid on the block. We were blessed by having managed to steal a land, rich in resources, from the previous tenants. We made rapid use of those resources and our relative isolation from the powers in Europe and Asia to build a worldwide economic power alongside which the 1st Century power of Rome pales in comparison. We have pretty much told the rest of the world how things were going to be, and made it stick through the power of our money and, too often, by force of arms.  Yes, yes, on a couple of occasions that was warranted by circumstances beyond our control, but even those wars were as much about economics as principle.

As Americans, we tend to forget that we are members of a global community, and that all we are depends on so many who preceded us.  We owe who and what we are to other cultures, those that went before and those that attempt to coexist with us today. The currently much-maligned Arabs invented the zero, without which modern mathematics would not exist. Africa gave us the rhythms that melded with European influences and became jazz. The Far East gave us philosophical insights; the Native Americans — the true owners of this land — an understanding of how we fit into the big picture along with all God’s other creations.

And so it goes. Every culture, every religion, every idea is built on those that have gone before. We Americans are the sum of all those parts: the Arabs, the Yoruba — stolen from their homes and forced to find another way to be themselves — the Hindu mystic, the Ojibway shaman, the Druid in his grove.

We need to think about this carefully. We need to understand that we are not isolated here in the US; that we are very much a part of the world, and it of us, and that we have the ability to decide the course of history. That course will be predicated, in turn, on our ability to discern our true place in the scheme of things: not whether we can kick the asses of those who disagree with our policies, but whether we can influence them to not want to kick ours.  The days of gunboat diplomacy are over.  They ended with the development of that most guided of missiles, the suicide bomber.

It is time to take our place as leaders in the quest for peace, not in the art and appliances of war.  When I see our powers diverted from that end to wage peace and compassion, as we are this week in Haiti, I have hope again.

If only we can remember that everyone hates a bully.


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Woman who helped hide Anne Frank dies at 100

Miep Gies who helped hide Anne Frank dies at 100 – Times Online

Miep Gies, the woman who rescued Anne’s diary after the family was arrested in 1944, died at a Dutch nursing home aged 100 after suffering a fall.

Soon there will be no witnesses left. Then will the deniers have their way?


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Drones and Dishonor in Central New York

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Drone aircraft are being stationed to patrol the US borders with Mexico and Canada. (Photo: Tom Tschida | wikimedia.com)

If war becomes unreal to the citizens of modern democracies, will they care enough to restrain and control the violence exercised in their name? Will they do so, if they and their sons and daughters are spared the hazards of combat?
– Michael Ignatieff, Virtual War (2000)

Drones and Dishonor in Central New York


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Gaza’s Underground Water Supplies on the Verge of Collapse

The report, “Environmental Assessment of the Gaza Strip: following the escalation of hostilities in December 2008-January 2009,” was requested in February by the UNEP Governing Council, made up of environment ministers from 58 countries, including Israel and the United States.

“The international community has indicated its willingness to assist with providing technical, financial and diplomatic assistance in order to turn environmental restoration into an opportunity for cooperation and restoration,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

The report finds that strikes on buildings and other infrastructure have generated 600,000 metric tonnes of demolition debris, some of which is contaminated with asbestos. The removal and safe disposal of rubble is calculated at over US$7 million.

An estimated 17 percent of cultivated land, including orchards and greenhouses, was severely affected. The report estimates the costs in terms of damage to farmers’ livelihoods alongside clean-up measures at around US$11 million.

Other impacts include sewage spills as a result of power cuts to treatment facilities. Some of the sewage is likely to have percolated through the Gaza Strip’s porous soils into the groundwater, the report finds.

Gaza’s Underground Water Supplies on the Verge of Collapse


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What Would Gary Cooper Do?

A Seven-Step Program to a Quieter, Less Muscular, Patriotism

It’s high time we ended the post-Vietnam obsession with Rambo’s rippling pecs as well as the jaw-dropping technological firepower of the recent cinematic version of G.I. Joe and return to the resolute, undemonstrative strength that Gary Cooper showed in movies like High Noon.


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What every American should be made to learn about the IG Torture Report

…I wrote earlier today about Eric Holder’s decision to “review” whether criminal prosecutions are warranted in connection with the torture of Terrorism suspects — that can be read here — but I want to write separately about the release today of the 2004 CIA’s Inspector General Report (.pdf), both because it’s extraordinary in its own right and because it underscores how unjust it would be to prosecute only low-level interrogators rather than the high-level officials who implemented the torture regime….

What every American should be made to learn about the IG Torture Report – Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com


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Army’s 1st Buddhist chaplain

“The question that arose in my mind is, ‘Why is there so much suffering?’ Christianity did not have a satisfactory answer,” said Thomas Dyer, a former Baptist minister. Dyer is now the first Buddhist chaplain in the U.S. Army.

Army’s 1st Buddhist chaplain