Yep, three things that really bother me… about myself.
This post has been brewing for a while. Over my years of being more involved in social issues and engaged Buddhism, I’ve become aware of three behaviors that I engage in that really drive me nuts about myself and have me feeling like a hypocrite. In fact, I am a hypocrite because of these things.
Right, I know we should have compassion for ourselves, and I do. Really, I do. When I say this to you, it’s not because I’m being overly hard on myself. It’s because I’m trying to be honest with myself and aspire to something better. (Which I realize is not exactly a Zen perspective, although Suzuki Roshi did once say something like, “You are perfect just as you are, and you can also use a little improvement.)
So here they are:
1. I pay taxes. All of them.
Somewhere between 20% and 54% of our federal income tax goes to support military expenses, depending on who you believe and how it’s counted. See these pie charts from the War Resisters’ League.
It’s been said that if you pay tax, you’re paying for war. Let’s face it, my dollars are going to support a military-industrial complex that I do not agree with. It’s not the people who are in the military that I am against, but it is the deeply ingrained assumption that we need to resolve conflicts with massive amounts of arms that create massive devastation. My tax dollars are helping to fuel that behavior.
And yet, I still pay my taxes.
2. I drive a car.
Those of you who know me know that I can go on a big rant about the harm caused by automobiles and other gas-powered vehicles.
This kind of automotive use has led to:
- a depletion of non-renewable energy sources, and therefore to our military presence and aggressive intervention in the Middle East to “protect our interests;”
- air and noise pollution;
- miles of precious earth paved over with asphalt;
- loss of life (37.5% of accidental deaths in the U.S. are attributed to motor vehicle accidents);
- and more (like I said, I can go on and on, but I’ll spare you here)
For two years, from 2002 – 2004, I did live without a car, quite happily, in Northampton, MA. I bought a car when I moved back to California, and I have that same car here in Santa Fe, NM. I drive it pretty much every day, often for trips I don’t really need to be taking.
3. Many of my purchases support huge corporations rather than people right in my community.
Sure, I try to shop local as much as I can, but the truth is I can get pretty mindless about my consumption. I’ll head to Target if I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to spend the time trying to find what I need at a locally-owned store, or searching through Craigslist. I usually buy from Amazon rather than a local bookstore. And even this website links to an Amazon page.
And yet… change is always possible. Sometimes we have to start small.
One of the wonderful things about blogging is that you become accountable in a very public way. So I want to use that public accountability to make three promises to myself. And I’ll check in with you about them in six months, October 2011.
1) As a first small step to exploring tax resistance, I’m going to stop paying the federal excise tax on my phone bill.
2) I promise myself to give myself one car-free day each week.
3) By October, I will change the Jizo Chronicles online bookstore from Amazon to BetterWorld Books, a company that donates millions of dollars to support literacy initiatives around the world and is committed to recycling books and other materials.
Keep an eye on me and hold me to my word.
How about you — what’s on your “this is really bothering me” list?
If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to visit my other website: The Liberated Life Project — a personal transformation blog with a social conscience.