While the House of Representatives debates over whether or not to impeach a U.S. president who incited, encouraged, and condoned a violent attempted coup at the Capitol last week, I'm sitting here thinking about something.
Here's what's on my mind today: when you get right down to the core of pretty much everything that's happening right now – all the protesting, the counterprotesting, the domestic terrorism, the rise of Anti-Semitism, Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter (1), and all the rest – the way I see it, it comes down to one thing:
Stay the Same, or Change?
If this country had stayed the same in the late 1700s, we'd still be British (2).
If this country had stayed the same in the 1800s, we'd still have slavery (3).
In this country had stayed the same in the 1900s, we'd still have segregation (4).
Hell, if this country had stayed the same in the 1400s, First Nations people wouldn't be forced to live on reservations today, and wouldn't have been slaughtered by the millions by white, European "settlers" (5) then.
I mean, let's get even simpler: if nothing had changed since the dawn of America: no phones, no cars, no plumbing, no — you get the point.
Life. Is. Change.
You're born, and instantly you change.
Every single second of your life from then on, you change.
Each time you eat, drink, sweat, pee, sit, stand, breathe... you change!
And yet, there are those who are so terrified of change that they will STORM THE U.S. CAPITOL AND REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE LEGITIMACY OF THE RESULT OF A FREE AND FAIR, DEMOCRATIC ELECTION BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO CHANGE *THEIR MINDS.*
These people have murdered civilians in the streets (Charlottesville).
These people have murdered cops at the Capitol (January 6th).
These people have literally attempted to murder the democratic process by which we peacefully transition power every four-to-eight years (by attempting to reject and overturn the election results, even AFTER a violent coup attempt).
They're so afraid of change, they will go to any length to keep things "the same."
Particularly their *minds.*
Because in order to accept these external changes, they'd have to accept internal, mental, moral, philosophical, religious, and social changes, and they refuse to do it.
They're too afraid of that change to even consider doing it.
That is to say: they're so afraid of external change, because it would require an internal change that they fear even more.
They afraid of change... because they're afraid TO change.
And listen: I can understand that.
Change. IS. SCARY.
When you're a tween and you start to stink and hair starts growing in places and the teacher calls on you to come up to the front of the class while you've got a spontaneous boner situation, it's fucking terrifying!
But we get used to it. We grow to accept it. We learn to change our thinking to adapt to the external change that's happening around us. (And we penis-having-people also learn to wear oversized sweatshirts with front pockets so we can secretly adjust what needs to be... adjusted.)
When we travel to a place that's cold, we don't keep wearing shorts and flip-flops. We put on a jacket and pants! We literally. CHANGE.
What do you call it when you go to your room and put on a different outfit?
But the disheartening thing is: I have no idea how to get anyone on their "side" (6) to see that.
How do you get someone who won't even acknowledge the need for change, to change their mind... About change?
The primary chant in Nichiren Buddhism is one I really like:
"Nam Myoho Renge Kyo"
It essentially means, "I devote myself to the mystic law of the Lotus Sutra."
Or, more simply, "I devote myself to the universal law of change."
At first, I really struggled with chanting it. It was in a foreign language, I didn't innately understand what I was saying, and chanting felt way too much like Catholic prayer for this lil' Atheist (7).
But then it dawned on me.
I was resisting making an internal change... in my perspective on a chant... about devoting myself... to the law of the universe... that everything changes.
I was literally resisting changing my mind... about a chant... about change.
Now? It's one of my favorite things to take two or three minutes to just stop, take a breath, and chant, recommitting myself to accepting change.
Hell, even within my industry, there are sort of two archetypal actors:
The "Well, I Already Learned It This Way" Actor,
and The "Okay, Yeah, I Can Try It That Way" Actor.
Guess who directors prefer to work with?
Everything changes, y'all.
Volcanoes erupt; clouds form, and rain falls; coastlines erode; people grow old and die; the body metabolizes food, turns it into energy, and removes the excess; people learn.
But what we're seeing is a refusal to learn.
A refusal to change.
I don't know what the answer here is, or even if there is one. But I believe it's necessary that we really examine ourselves right now.
Which actor are you going to be? What are you going to wear in the snow? Whose side are you going to choose?
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. (8)
(1) Which isn't a thing. You can't have a blue life. That would be a Smurf. Are you Smurfs? No? then you don't have a "blue life." You have a "blue job." Which you chose. And get paid for.
(2) Though not European. Hashtag Brexit.
(3) We do. It's in the 13th Amendment. Right after it says "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude" [sic], it says "except as a punishment for crime" [sic]. Don't buy from companies that use prison labor. Download the buycott app (buycott.com) and check your brands. It has a barcode scanner. Fuck Starbucks.
(4) Do I really have to go into this one?
(5) Conquistadors I think is a closer-to-accurate word.
(6) I've said this before. *They* made this all about sides. We didn't. They made it "Us vs. Them." We're just accepting the change in how we approach this conflict and playing with the cards we've been dealt. They're the ones bringing guns to a poker match.
(7) I'm calling dibs on "lil' Atheist" as my rap name.
(8) Do we like the footnotes? I'm kind of enjoying them. But do we like them? Lemme know!