The Whence of the Isms of (the) U(nited)S(tates)…

I am a contributor to the Feminism and Religion blog.  Here is an excerpt of my most recent post.

Thus, when enemies or friends
Are seen to act improperly,
Be calm and call to mind
That everything arises from conditions.
-Shantideva, Bodhicharyāvatāra

The early Indian teacher, Shantideva, calls humanity to a deeper exploration of the people and situations we encounter. While it may sound simple, his invitation can be very difficult for American mentalities. He is asking us to look at something more complicated than the individual who acts; he is pointing us toward the causes and conditions that give rise to every person, to every situation, to every moment.

This invitation to a more complicated space for understanding people and situations can be so awkward for American ways of thinking that our systems tend to label this approach as hostile to such core values as individual accountability, freedom, and liberty.

It is difficult in a culture defined by individualism to encounter this precept of conditionality without so much suspicion. How can we give space to the causes and conditions that give rise to situations and not let people off the hook for things at the same time? How can we look at the bigger picture and not lose the importance of the rights and responsibilities of the individual in the process? (Read the rest of the post here).


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