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From Where I Stand

While we weren't looking

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While people go on being killed in Iraq every day and more and more Taliban creep back into Afghanistan every month, and war threatens to engulf even more of the Middle East now, an issue brews in Japan that could change the geopolitical balance of the globe. But few Westerners are aware of it, and almost no one here is talking about it.

Pigeons won't be enough this time

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In the First World War, when diplomacy had ended and war was at full bore, when communication systems were archaic and innocent people were trapped on both sides of the line, we used carrier pigeons to shuttle messages from one side of a border to the other. This time, it seems all we have left to use if we want to know what’s happening on the other side are people. Common people.

We need some 'rising great compassion' ourselves

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While Sunnis were fighting Shi'as and Arab
Palestinians were fighting Jewish Israelis and U.S. Christians were
fighting Iraqi Muslims, I was sitting in a Buddhist monastery on the top
of a mountain in Taiwan. From the mountain top, the city in the distant
valley below was barely a memory, a phantom of another kind of life. Noise
and tumult, smoke and car horns had yet to touch this place.

Sounds idyllic, doesn't it? Shades of Shangri-la. A refuge. A hiding
place from life. A moment out of time.

Think again.

Here, on the top of this mountain, I heard something that made me
think. "Nowadays," I heard a young woman say, "People take on religion
just to hurt one another."

A mistaken identity -- or no real identity at all?

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Who are we fooling -- except maybe
ourselves?


The national myth is that we hold a common moral ethic, free of
cooptation by any particular religious group and devoted to religious
equality. Materialistic, secular USA, that blind behemoth of national
equality, child of the Enlightenment and beacon of freedom to all,
promises the world to leave faith to the faithful and legislate justice
justly.

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In This Issue

August 1-14, 2014

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