Religio-Politics 101: Buddhism and Bizniz, best to leave your trump card unplayed…

Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka

Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka

I hate to get all holier-than-thou, but I may just be getting all holier-than-me, my transient former self, at least. It’s scary. I think maybe I’ve had an epiphany, a revelation, a religious whatchamacallit, in which I may have actually enhanced my status as a spiritual being, while hopefully not sacrificing too much as a human in this material world.

That is: I’m finding it difficult to talk sh*t on people, this in a social-media era in which to tell-all is a paramount virtue, often the nastier the better, and in intimate detail—what you were wearing when you said what you said as you did something else in the middle of the Event Horizon. There’s only one problem: I can’t do it.

Back story: I own a BnB-ish hostel in Tucson, Arizona, private rooms and dorms, and get most of my customers from Air BnB, which operates on the review system, in which they review me and I review them.  Well, many of these guys—and gals—are looking for a deal, so when they see the pictures of the beautiful historic house, then the dirt cheap dorm beds, they sometimes get the idea that they’ll be in the lap of luxury for $20 a night. It doesn’t always work that way, of course, so sometimes they become angry (Brit: miffed) and seek revenge by giving my place a bad review.

One ‘mature’ lady, “sixty-two years old and 230 pounds,” her words not mine, was especially berserk, leaving in the middle of the night, for reasons unspecified.  I suggested we forego the bloodletting reviews, for mutual benefit, just ‘not a good fit’, but she’d have none of it.  So I composed an elaborate scathing review of her, as promised, complete with four-letter words and cutting remarks, but in the end: I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t slit her throat with the steely edge of my (s)word(s), no matter how good it might feel for a minute or two, or an hour at the most. The worst I could do was respond in something akin to a parable, written in code and intended only to send a subtle message, not a crushing blow. Donald (Duck) Trump would not be proud of me, BUT…

…that’s the epiphany. I don’t want Donald Trump to be proud of me. Does Donald Trump look happy to you, with his permanent scowl and cynical grin? No, not to me, either. I want peace on Earth and good will toward men—and women. I don’t want the ‘Art of the (big f*cking) Deal’ or ‘You’re fired! I want shared economies and shared spaces, controlled anger and reduced danger.

The story of Donald Trump is truly sad, how one ignorant man bullies himself into situations, huffing and puffing and insulting and exulting, all to impress people who find this comforting, the Big Man syndrome, just like they found impressive the antics of Chinggis Khan seven hundred years ago or So-and-So the Great even longer before that, vanquishing then languishing, enjoying the spoils of war, while those who were spoiled lay dying.

Trump’s way is the bizniz and political equivalent of a protection scheme, ultimately protecting you from the one who’s offering the protection, the feudal mentality of the Mafia and such. But enough about Trump. Me, I think I can muster up enough cynicism to survive in this world, even if I am a total failure at talking trash and lining up heads for a quick little bash. I’ve even figured out how to be a music and film critic without being too critical—just review works that I like!  Ha!

And I can just avoid heavy discussions on FaceBook pages; you know, the kind in which people stake out flimsy intellectual positions and defend them to the death, while taking no prisoners. Who needs ’em? Not me. Our country and our society and our culture doesn’t have it so nice and easy. We’re at the crossroads and we need leaders, in both politics and bizniz. We have a few good ones, like Richard Branson and Elon Musk, but we need more. Maybe Buddhism can help.

Meditation is universally recognized as a beneficial practice, and Buddhism goes with it hand in glove as its metaphysics of non-attachment. Protestantism was a well-documented handmaiden to the first industrial revolution, as the foundation for individualism and entrepreneurial initiative, breaking free from the confines of central authority, something which Catholic countries are historically notably slack at. It worked by most measures—but not all. I-Phones weren’t created by medieval guilds and traditional artisans, but neither was global warming…

Maybe Buddhism is the religious underpinning for the next phase of industry, more attracted by prophets and less by profits and their bitter fruits. The best bizniz plan is one of vision, not copying old models or vanquishing your competition or monopolizing the markets. How many times has a competitor threatened: “I’ll put you out of bizniz!” It’s pathetic. We need vision. We need Buddhism in the mature phase of our culture. Let the old war gods die. Let Peace rain down…