The Mad Activist Goes All Buddhist

The Mad Activist Goes All Buddhist

Dear Trump Diary,

7:34 a.m., Tuesday. I just signed another online petition. One of the 250 social-change outfits I connect with shot me an urgent text 45 seconds ago, so away I clicked. Then I left an emergency voicemail at the office of a senator I’ve never heard of, and posted the petition on Facebook, urging people to STOP CONGRESS FROM GIVING DONALD TRUMP $5.7 BILLION TO BUILD HIS OBSCENE IMMIGRATION WALL.

How often must I do this, before I die of despair?

Don’t get me wrong, Trump Diary. I believe that life is sacred. Yes, sacred: every being, rinsed in the breathtaking light of each passing moment. But how can I enjoy all this goddamn sacredness when I’m hit online, day after day, by soul-sundering cyber-cries for help? Thousands of tireless NGO’s crank out millions of utterly sincere — abjectly necessary — emails and texts. They call me by my own name and beg me to SIGN! SEND! CALL! DONATE!

* “Dear Mad Activist: This Imperiled Baby Beluga Needs Help! Demand NO Offshore Drilling in the Arctic! * Only 2,000 signatures needed to tell Trump that homophobia is un-American! * Click NOW to stop the sale of American weapons to Saudi Arabia! * Your voice needed to STOP Keystone XL! * Tangled in Plastic Litter, This Helpless Seabird Is Dying! So CLICK already, you selfish beast…”

Again and again, I throw my one, granular identity onto the pile to stop the pain of beings I’ll never meet — while my heartfelt response to multiple tragedies is reduced to a series of keystrokes and clicks. I’m alienated, Trump Diary. These assorted 501C-3’s say my name and reach out to me, but they’re never around in the middle of the night when I need to talk.

Remember two years ago, just after Trump was elected? Millions of us pledged to do everything, every day, to stop Trump’s escalating governmental cruelty, injustice, and planet-destroying policies. We said we’d never give up!

Well, I’m tired, I’m stepping away from my computer, I’m giving up.

PS: I’m also gonna stop signing up on Facebook to attend multiple demonstrations, especially when they’re all scheduled to happen at the same time. Whoops — gotta go! Late for work.

Dear Trump Diary,

10:45 p.m., Tuesday. This morning, on the A Train downtown, I was dozing off, much like the 97 other anonymous, work-bound people around me, including this guy in saffron Buddhist monk robes, sitting maybe three feet away. Sometime after the 145th Street stop, some man at the back of the car starts yelling, “I hate this fucking town! Doesn’t anyone want to wish me a Merry Christmas? Doesn’t anyone?”

Granted, everybody’s afraid of being mowed down these days by spontaneous gunfire, but this holiday season, we’re probably all more weary than wary. So I didn’t turn around. Nor did anyone else around me, including the monk, who stared fixedly at his iPhone. Because I didn’t turn around, I don’t know this guy’s approximate age or race.

FYI, Trump Diary: Age/race… this is how us activists tend to see people — in terms of perceived demographics, which concern one’s relation to societal power. Not totally enlightened, but there you are. I’m therefore assuming that this guy didn’t have much sway in the world, since most people of means prefer to take their emotional problems to paid professionals like psychiatrists or real estate developers. Anyhow, this guy keeps yelling about how somebody needs to wish him a Merry Christmas.

Finally a woman calls out, “Okat, Merry Christmas!” The guy yells back, “Shut up, lady. You’re not the president. I want the fucking president of America to wish me a fucking Merry Christmas.”

The monk continues gazing into his iPhone. Like he’s contemplating an email that might deliver all living beings from suffering, if only he would “click here.

Dear Trump Diary,

8:25 Wednesday a.m., late again. But must tell you about big enlightenment I had just now! So I’m sitting at my computer, ignoring plaintive emails gently wafting to my inbox. Instead, I am meditating on the Buddhist precept: “Be where you are.”

Good luck with that, right? After I’ve listened to NPR News tell me that, besides dealing death to immigrants, rule of law, people of color, and the planet, Trump now wants to kill the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.

So there I was, neck-deep in detached Nothingness, when suddenly it occurred to me: Donald Trump is the 21st-century Buddha.

Because, fearing death at any moment — as we are learning to do, thanks to Trump — are we not also learning to live in the Eternal Now in ways the original Buddha could never imagine? This adds new meaning to that Zen saying, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

I picture this little golden Buddha-bellied statue of Trump sitting cross-legged. Not meditating — tweeting out 21st-century koans. “New Golden Rule, people! Gold: RULES!” “‘Something there is that REALLY LOVES MY WALL!’ — Great line from world’s best poet, ME!”

So here we are, staring into a whole new calendar year. With or without activism, never has life seemed more pre–

Rats. Inadvertently read an email. “DEMAND Trump Administration stop separating immigrant children from their families! Click HERE to…”

Why, Trump Diary? I won’t be any less alienated. Why click once more?

I dunno. Maybe because I’m still alive? Maybe because — to quote the real Buddha – “Your actions are your only belongings”…?