Two Billion A Month

During the late news last night they reported that the US is spending about two billion dollars a month on the war against terror. I sat there for a moment and then I thought about it… $2,000,000,000.00 a month; what could be done with that? Could we cure all cancer? Could we end hunger, poverty or illiteracy with this kind of money?

According to the National Priorities Project we have spent $467 billion to date. Staggering. This war, which began on March 30, 2003 and continues today, is quickly becoming the costliest war in American history. In contrast World War II cost the United States $288 billion in 1945 dollars. That is over three trillion dollars, it would look like this; $3,189,752,033,348.

OK, so we haven’t yet spent anywhere near what we did on WWII, right? For just a moment remember that WWII was a multi-theater war with almost every nation caught in the conflict, fought in the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, all across Europe, Asia and northern Africa too. (Did I leave anything out?) The war on terror, waged primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan so far, has been waged for the most part by Americans.

Yes, I know; we have allies there with us. Sorta. The smart ones bailed as soon as they could. The WMD debacle squandered trust and friendship all across the world when it comes to international relations. The ones that are left are there at their own political peril. What began as a true coalition has since become the US and her closest allies; mainly other British colonies as it were.

I know I don’t normally write about my political views, but why is it OK for this war to continue? Why are American’s not in the streets nightly demanding the cessation of all hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan where US men and women are concerned? Is it the old argument that we are there to protect our loved ones back in America? Are they fighting to bring democracy to the region? Is someone waiting in the wings to spring terrorism on us again if we pull out?

Let me state here and now that I am not a pacifist. True, I am no war-hawk, my hands don’t ache for the feel of the M-16, but I still hear the hymn of the United States Marine Corps when I brush my teeth. (Inside joke for other Marines.) I believe there is such a thing as a righteous war, a war that simply must be fought. Sometimes the only course of action that a nation can take is the use of force. But this war is beyond that pale.

Hey, let’s try this: suspend the war for a few months. Take eight or ten billion dollars and set up a hospital somewhere or build a college in Guatemala or something like that. Let’s take that money and feed the homeless in California or build new homes for the twenty-two thousand Americans still living in FEMA housing after Hurricane Katrina.

If that is a complete waste of time, whatever, start shooting again. Something tells me that it won’t be a waste of time or money.

We need to remember that we are all one race of man. We are all worthy of loving-kindness, respect and compassion. How can any of us truly be happy while there are others suffering?

Yogis of Tibet

I recently found the movie The Yogis of Tibeton Stage6. It is a documentary about the Himalayan kingdom of Tibet and her Buddhist and Bon yogis.

You can watch the movie in its entirety here: Yogis Of Tibet.

This movie shows video from the Chinese invasion of Tibet while it also speaks about the one million Tibetans killed in that invasion and the years since then. Western countries have largely ignored this brutal holocaust in order to appease the Chinese government and promote trade with the commerce engine we know as China.

Tibetan yogis are not the yogis most westerners think of, the Hindu yogis. Hindu yogis are known for producing body-bending feats, but the Tibetan yogis are known rather for their practice of yoga of the mind.

In the film one lama comments that the definition of a yogi is someone who trains their mind to be “always at ease, always at peace.” Sounds to me that we should all strive for that. I have a hard time imaging a more compassionate practice than being at peace at all times. Stressful jobs, relationships, friendships – all of those would benefit.

Just for a moment, concentrate with me. Soften your eyes, relax your forehead, let the stress fall away like so much dust. Feel your breath, maybe for the first time today, maybe for the first time ever; really feel it. Take in a deep breath and with it, breathe in the energy that surrounds you, the energy that pervades the whole universe and feeds you even when you do not know it is there for you. Exhale and push out the suffering you have felt today. Exhale and push out the suffering of all those around you, your family, friends, coworkers, people on the street and all of the beings in the universe. Offer everyone this one quiet moment of peace.

Now, while you are momentairly stress-free and if you have any interest in Buddhadharma, Tibet, China, world economics or global politics; then please take the time to watch this amazing and beautiful documentary. Let me know what you think too.

All The Colors of the Rainbow

A few days ago I left my house, driving to work, and the world was full of bright sunshine and blue skies. Before I had driven a mile I was looking at a solid gray sky with fast moving, white wispy clouds, racing along beneath the gray. It was just starting to sprinkle and the smell in the air was clean and fresh, rains were sweeping towards me, I could see it coming in the distance.

My attention was caught by a massive rainbow showing over a small elementary school. The colors were deep and rich, they did not seem to be transparent like other rainbows, but instead they seems to be solid. If I could find the site there this rainbow was touching ground I know I could have climbed it, it would have held weight.

Children from the school stood in the last rays of the sunshine, pointing up to the rainbow to show their friends. A hundred small arms stretched up, pointing to the heavens, showing the way. It was majestic and wonderful, pure everyday magic; this solid rainbow for all to see.

The contrast in colors: the rainbow, superimposed on the gray rain clouds, was moving and beautiful; a spiritual experience for everyone to see.