I've been neglecting my duties as manager of the Buddhist Blogs webring. Today, when I logged in to view recently submitted sites, this photoblog caught my eye. It is called Cuckoo's call.
The author states in one of his posts:
When we live in a city, our lives are unavoidably intertwined with, and sustained by, many others.
In his first few series of photographs, he takes us into the heart of Calcutta and provides a glimpse of the laborers... vendors, rickshaw pullers, everyday people. As an economist, he offers social commentary about these telling snapshots.
He links to another blogger, Amit kumar Singh, whose last post (dated August 10) delves into the "problem" of the middle class.
I am an American. A rather priviledged American. I've had a good education. I have a good job. It is a good job that I like to complain about at times, but I should have no complaints. I think my life is simple, that I don't consume excessively, and perhaps relative to others that live in my community, the statement has some truth. But I'm still a middle-class American. That means I am in a good place even if I open my mouth to complain about gasoline prices, the APR on my credit cards, the war, politics, corporate life, or any of the other things that middle-class Americans complain about.
Somehow, a brief glance at Rama's blog reminded me that I live not in a city, not in a country, but in a world. Somehow, a brief perusal of his words and his snapshots woke me up to gratitude and made me think about something that I think is a somewhat uncomfortable subject for self-proclaimed Buddhists in America.
Every now and then someone will talk about perceived racism in Buddhist temples or practice centers in America. A discussion ensues and people of color share feelings about the subject. I listen, and while I do not in any way diminish or disregard any of the points raised or feelings shared there is always this feeling in my gut that tells me that race is not the prevailing issue... the prevailing issue is class.
We don't talk about it, but I've seen it manifest in subtle ways. Sometimes I think many Buddhists in America are embarrassed by what they have individually and what we have collectively in this country. I think there is an underlying embarassment about excess. And while I think embarassment can be useful in that it is one of those uncomfortable feelings that cause us to look at ourselves, I think it would be most useful to turn whatever uncomfortable feelings we might have about what we have into an unshakable, sustained practice of generosity.
Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with having. I think the problem is hoarding. But there is a simple answer.