As the self-proclaimed Jimmy Swaggart of Buddhism, I openly admit where I fall short of the ideal established by the Enlightened One, and certainly the cultivation of compassion is an area in which I fall way —make that — abysmally short.
I do sincerely wish that through meditation I could relax the tight little angry fist of my heart and show some empathy for those I dislike when they stumble, rather than luxuriating in a warm, soothing, spiteful bath of schadenfreude.
For example, rather than empathizing with Governor Mike Pence of Indiana as he made a gargantuan ass out of himself on national television, I smirked derisively, enjoying every drop of perspiration forming on his quivering upper lip as if they were karmic pearls bestowed upon me by a benevolent universe. Certainly, I’m no stranger to making a complete ass out of myself, though, of course, I haven’t had the opportunity as yet to elevate my asshoodness to a level worthy of the adjective gargantuan, never having been interviewed by a local broadcast reporter much less by George Stephanopoulous. However, given the chance, I think I’m capable of it.
And certainly, Pence is worthy of compassion if we consider wretches worthy of compassion. I suspect that Pence hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep since deep into last week. Perhaps his problem lay in his admittedly not-exactly-heroic condition of not being able to lie well extemporaneously. In case you’re just now emerging from a coma, Pence refused to answer Stephanopolous’s yes-or-no question as to whether under Pence’s new Indiana Restoration of Religious Freedom Act, a florist (i.e., a business) could refuse to provide flowers for the wedding of a gay couple. (If you haven’t seen it, you can watch an edited version here:
A more practiced liar would have hissed, “Of course, not,” but then again, I suspect that the bill’s raisin de etre is to have “the base” at least think fundamentalists can refuse to cater or provide flowers to gay weddings, coming as it does right after the SCOTUS nixed Indiana’s ban on gay marriage. So rather than telling a lie, he ineffectually tried to dodge the question, transforming himself from a possible presidential candidate to an international laughing stock, the plump bourgeoise target of many a comedian’s acid-laced arrows.
(Not to worry, he made up for his refusal to lie by providing a tractor trailer load in subsequent days)
And, of course, Indiana’s super-majority Republican government would have gotten away with it, as my native South Carolina did with its law, if it had not been for certain segments of corporate America, including NASCAR, deriding the law as bad for business, which just goes to show, as Bob Dylan pointed out lo so many years ago, “Money doesn’t talk; it screams.”
Well, perhaps this confession is a first, halting step from my detour from the golden 8th-fold path, or maybe not. I hear Pence made Letterman’s Top 10 list. Maybe I’ll check that out instead.