Saturday, June 06, 2015

America's Zen koan: What is "freedom"?

noun, plural koans, koan. Zen.
1. a nonsensical or paradoxical question to a student for which an answer is demanded, the stress of meditation on the question often being illuminating.

America is in many ways the freest country in the world and then again it isn't.

For example: America is a country where a wealthy and famous father of six children and grandfather of five, can, at the ripe age of 65, dominate the national conversation by freely deciding to become a woman and simultaneously, America can be a country where a single mother who works full time at minimum wage, and her children, can live in poverty.

A typical, traditional Zen Koan would be, "what is the sound of one hand clapping?"

Today our Zen koan to meditate upon would be: Is there a connection between these two realities, these two experiences of the reality of freedom, these two Americas... is there any "cause and effect"?

Since our celebrity culture doesn't devote many magazine covers to them, what, exactly does the term "working poor" mean?

While poverty is often associated with joblessness, a significant proportion of the poor are actually employed.The working poor are adversely affected in terms of many organizational outcomes such as job attachment, career attainment, and job attainment because of mediating factors that are cognitive, affective, and relational. Largely because they are earning such low wages, the working poor face numerous obstacles that make it difficult for many of them to find and keep a job, save up money, and maintain a sense of self-worth. The official working poverty rate in the US has remained somewhat stable over the past four decades, but many social scientists argue that the official rate is set too low, and that the proportion of workers facing significant financial hardship has instead increased over the years. Changes in the economy, especially the shift from a manufacturing-based to a service-based economy, have resulted in the polarization of the labor market. This means that there are more jobs at the top and the bottom of the income spectrum, but fewer jobs in the middle. Wikipedia

In this the United States is rather unique among developed nations, again from Wikipedia:

Credit Wikipedia

The closest I can come to answering the Zen koan I first proposed would be the following "counter-koan"

Perhaps a single, American, working mother, over the age of 65, would like to transition to being a man:

Credit Wikipedia

The media’s group embrace of Jenner’s transition should be seen for what it is — not a revolutionary step toward minority rights but a money grab for ads, ratings, sales and buzz in a culture of provocation and greed without ethics or conscience. Kathleen Parker - Washington Post 

The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation.
Jeremy Bentham

 "The rest is commentary — [and now] go study." 


1 comment:

oldfatherwilliam said...

imagine finding the perfect encapsulation of anything with Kathleen Parker