The other day I saw an email from Code Pink, addressed toward President Obama and outlining all the reasons for concern about his leadership on issues such as health care and the military.
I agreed with some of the points in the letter, not with others. But what really bothered me was that midway through the email, the salutation became simply “Obama.” As in, “Obama, I am losing hope… Obama, we need renewed leadership.” This struck me as plain rude. What happened to “President Obama”?
Call me silly, but I think this matters. When George W. Bush was president, even though I disagreed with nearly everything he did and everything his administration stood for, I always made a point of saying “President Bush.” (Even though it really stuck in my craw.)
I think it goes back to remembering something that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said about loving your enemies. He actually said a lot about this — it was at the core of his preaching, and it was the fundamental basis of the Civil Rights Movement, as King interpreted it. He gave a whole sermon about it in 1957. Here’s what he says near the end of the sermon:
So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.” And I’m foolish enough to believe that through the power of this love somewhere, men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed. And then we will be in God’s kingdom. We will be able to matriculate into the university of eternal life because we had the power to love our enemies, to bless those persons that cursed us, to even decide to be good to those persons who hated us, and we even prayed for those persons who spitefully used us.
I realize this may seem like a trivial, but it feels like it points to something deeper. I’m curious — what do other people think/feel? Does this relate to your Buddhist practice in any way, or am I just way out on a limb here?