Words are things; and a small drop of ink / Falling like dew upon a thought,
produces / That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think. -Lord Byron,
Well, let’s see what words we can drop ink on today that we may produce a million thinking people. Or not. As I was communing with the almighty god this morning (actually I was suffering through an ugly rehab run) it occurred to me that we need fewer questions and more answers. So, loyal parishioners, let us be solutions oriented today. And rather than trying to solve any one of the myriad problems the world faces, I think I’d prefer to muse upon a Draconian solution that solves a whole bunch of shit. That’s so much more fun. So here we go…
On a couple of occasions your gentle, truth-seeking Reverend thought it was a good idea to study Zen in a fairly traditional setting. When one is sitting formally, in and old-school temple, there are monitors. These fine folks walk slowly and quietly behind the rows of meditators and carry a big stick made of split bamboo. If they happen to see you nodding off or staring off into space daydreaming they stop behind you and wait. At this point, as a good Zen student, you bow forward and they smack you twice across the soldiers. Whap whap. This brief burst of pain wakes you up and helps refocus your attention. Kind of like awareness police. And it works. Really well. I’m proposing we take them out of the temple an apply them to the world at large.
Let’s face facts. Human beings are self-centered, stupid, and easily distracted. I know, this is hardly news. But it seem to have gotten way worse recently because 1) we’ve invented so many cool distractions and 2) we’re relatively safe from natural predators. I’m sure nobody wears Ipod earphones and texts their bff while walking around areas where tigers still eat people. We have a deep awareness deficit. A guy recently lay dying of stab wounds on a street in NYC for hours because NO ONE NOTICED! Muggers, taggers, rude drivers, litterers, and scofflaws of all kinds depend on no one noticing their transgressions. We don’t need to give up civil liberties to protect ourselves from a terrorist, we just need to PAY ATTENTION. The last two attempted attacks were foiled not by body cavity searches or police cameras but by people who noticed shit. A guy trying to light his underpants on fire in a plane and a smoking car left in Times Square with the keys in it. We don’t need more police or fewer rights. We just need to be reminded that we’re in the world and that we should probably pay attention to what’s happening around us.
Of course the most elegant solution would be to let tigers loose all over the place. While I personally love this idea, I can see that it does have certain limitations. So instead I’m going to look to my Zen experience as the answer. Awareness officers. Let’s train thousands of them. Volunteers, so it doesn’t cost any money. Martial Artists, meditators, paranoids, bikers, anyone with a slightly higher level of awareness. Let’s give them sticks, or hell, let the just us their hands if necessary. They get special badges that make them immune from being sued or arrested for simple assault. And put them EVERYWHERE. Any public space. I love this idea.
Just imagine it. You’re walking down the street, yapping away on your blackberry, a menace and annoyance to the world. And out of nowhere somebody walks up to you and whaps you in the head. You’re stunned because YOU DIDN’T SEE HIM COMING, largely because you WEREN’T PAYING ATTENTION. But after the smack you immediately rejoin the world. You notice the people around you. You’re PRESENT. In the HERE AND NOW. What a wonderful gift. Think about it. The world would slowly change for the better. If some dumbass teenager decided to write on the wall, everyone would see him. Muggers would be shit out of luck. We’d demand that ugly shit get cleaned up, since we’d actually BE LOOKING AT IT. And distracted drivers would at least be heavily bruised.
Of course it would be better if the plan was codified into law, but the moral retards in Washington and Sacramento don’t have the balls to enact useful shit like this. So fuck them. I may just start myself. Randomly smacking people who aren’t engaged in the world around them. For their own good. I’m appointing myself as the first Awareness Officer. Would you like to be deputized? I thought you might! Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.
– Archbishop Angus