Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Buddhist politician

When I looked at Arlen Specter on the front page of the NYT this morning, I thought, this is a Buddhist moment. For decades he's been a Republican. Everyone knew he was a Republican. There was the "R" beside his name. He voted with Republicans, caucused with them, agreed with them. But yesterday he woke up and said, "I'm no longer a Republican." His identity, which seemed so fixed, so solid, was revealed to be an illusion. He wasn't a Republican at all. That was an outer shell he wore for convenience. It turns out he can be anything he says he is. Or nothing at all.

Isn't it amazing how reality is so fragile? And such a simple act, putting a "D" after his name rather than an "R" could have incredibly far-reaching effects if the R's try to filibuster O's programs. For me this is a reminder that how I identify myself can have enormous effects on my life and that of others. And, the way I identify myself is a choice, not a reality. When I chose to identify myself as an alcoholic, it turned my life around. When I chose to identify myself as a musician, it eventually stifled me. It's easy to stay stuck in ideas of who or what I am. The truth is, who I am is constantly changing (along with everything else), and it's up to me to stay current with that. Who know's, maybe tomorrow I'll wake up with an "R" beside my name---Noooooo!!!!

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