“We need a kind of collective awakening. There are among us men and women who are awakened, but it’s not enough; most people are still sleeping. We have constructed a system we can’t control. It imposes itself on us, and we become its slaves and victims. For most of us who want to have a house, a car, a refrigerator, a television, and so on, we must sacrifice our time and our lives in exchange. We are constantly under the pressure of time. In former times, we could afford three hours to drink one cup of tea, enjoying the company of our friends in a serene and spiritual atmosphere. We could organize a party to celebrate the blossoming of one orchid in our garden. But today we can no longer afford these things. We say that time is money. We have created a society in which the rich become richer and the poor become poorer, and in which we are so caught up in our immediate problems that we cannot afford to be aware of what is going on with the rest of the human family or our planet Earth. In my mind I see a group of chickens in a cage disputing over a few seeds of grain, unaware that in a few hours they will all be killed.”
–Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Buddhist monk, poet and peace activist
“…if I were a clever man, I would have left my master days ago. But this is my fate and this is my misfortune; I can’t help it; I have to follow him: we’re from the same village, I’ve eaten his bread, I love him dearly, he’s a grateful man, he gave me his donkeys, and more than anything else, I’m faithful; and so it’s impossible for anything to separate us except the man with the pick and the shovel.”
–Sancho Panza speaking in Don Quixote, Second Part, Chapter XXXIII
Sancho Panza’s mad devotion to his master, the nutty Don Quixote, illustrates the problem we face: Who is crazier, our leaders or ourselves for following them? Sancho can’t help himself….he must continue to serve at the heels of someone who sees an enchanted castle when there is a seedy inn, or conjures up fighting giants where there are windmills.
It’s easier to follow the status quo than to break free of the deadly chains that bind us. And we are imprisoned in a foolish dream, one that tells us to keep using fossil fuels and to continue to ravage the earth, even if this is not in our favor, but in the best interests of the most wealthy and powerful people in the world.
How do we stop squabbling over a few seeds of grain in time to put a stop to our history’s end?