Dear Mr. & Mrs. 1 %
Dear Mr. and Mrs. 1 %,
The past week we celebrated Thanksgiving Day. What a wonderful day we had, remembering the wonders of life, the fresh air, the solid earth, the delicious food that everyone brought along and the presence of our loved ones. And yet thousands of conditions to feel grateful for are readily available for us. When I feel grateful I also tend to feel happy and content. The sweetness of being alive, as a human being on this precious planet becomes alive. I hope you are also able to enjoy this tremendous gift.
I hope that you, your family and loved ones are happy and that all of you have good health. This time of the year is so special and I hope that all of you have time to spend it with family and loved ones during this coming Holiday Season.
I have heard much about you Dear Mr. and Mrs. 1 %, but I am not sure if we have ever met. My name is Brother Protection and I am a 6-foot-2, Buddhist Monk, with a shaved head and brown robes, and I wear glasses. I just turned 40 years old this year, and it's been 11 years since I lived and worked as a lawyer in Stockholm, Sweden. If you see me around, please stop and say hello. I would love to meet you in person.
Last year I was interviewed by Occupy Boston's Newspaper, together with some other monks and nuns. I remember saying that as we practice walking and sitting meditation we make happiness and peace possible in the present moment. We also wish for everyone, the 100%, to be happy and peaceful. I looked up toward the tall high-rises and prayed that everyone up there would be free of worry, stress and frustration.
I know that you must have studied and worked very hard to become part of the 1%. I can also imagine that you have a lot of responsibilities toward many people. Money and power offers not only liberty, but a lot of responsibility as well. I hope this is not burdening you too much. I truly hope that you will be able to relax during this Holiday Season.
As a Buddhist Monk I do not have a lot of money or power, but I do feel much responsibility toward the Earth, the people, animals and plants on this planet. We all understand that there is just this one planet in our solar system that is inhabitable. When I look up at the full moon I also look with the eyes of my ancestors and future generations of people of this Earth. I hope they will also be able to come in touch with the peaceful radiance of the full moon soaring through the dark sky. I hope that everyone on all continents will have enough food to eat and access to clean water. I hope that everyone will be able to feel safe in their family, society and country, not having to go through the devastation and the suffering of war. My Christmas wish this year is for all of us to reflect on what can we do to make this a reality and then act on our insights and the insights of scientists on which we rely. We need your help!
Our natural environment is undergoing great stress due to the way we humans are using the resources of this earth. Our air, water and the Earth itself is getting polluted. The CO₂ levels are increasing and the planet is warming up, causing desertification, extinction of many species, stronger and more frequent natural disasters, etc., all leading to hardship for so many. Were we to use all the identified fossil fuel resources, including the tar sands, the climate of this planet would change dramatically and we would no longer recognize it. We know that everything changes and that nothing lasts forever, but wouldn't it be nice to take care of the natural environment so that many more generations of people will be able to enjoy the wonders of glaciers, of vast forests, of abundance of animal species, of predictable and reliable seasons which make agriculture possible? Together we can reduce our emissions and support initiatives and research into renewable and sustainable energy sources. The Earth needs our caring support. We receive everything we have from the Earth. Let's see what we can do for the Earth.
There are thousands of children dying every day due to malnutrition and lack of clean water. I try to imagine a young mother with children, crying from hunger, getting sick by dirty water. And here in southern California, where I currently stay, people play golf in areas where we only get 10 inches of rain a year! The golf course is watered with water from the Colorado river, which is not reaching the ocean anymore. On this planet we grow more then enough food for everyone to have plenty to eat, but we throw much away because it does not reach the standards that we have set up. A lot of crops and water resources are also used for animal food production. Even in this rich country, 1/6 have issues with hunger, at the same time as obesity is soaring. There is something strange, something scary, with this whole situation. It seems that with our advancing technology we have lost some of our common sense. I am sure that together we can find ways to share the resources of this planet so everyone has enough conditions to feel safe and at ease.
I know that there will always be 1% and that the 99% will also always be there. In the past the 1% did not have the information and technology that we have to understand the situation of the 99%. The 1% have many times felt responsible for the rest of society due to their level of education and influence. It is not easy to be part of the 1%, and therefore I truly wish you to be happy and at ease. In the past the 1% did not clearly understand the situation of others, even to the degree that they have asked why the people don't eat pastry if they don't have bread.
When we understand clearly the situation of people in difficult situations we cannot blame them anymore, or simply say that they are the cause of their own misery. There are so many studies showing that when young women in developing countries get a basic level of education they will start having children later and the number of children decreases significantly. In this country we might feel that the poor and uneducated just have to make more effort to overcome their difficulties, and some miraculously do. But we also have to be aware how unevenly the resources for schooling are being distributed and how much energy the teachers in under-served neighborhoods have to focus on the social problems that the children bring. What would we have done, growing up in a neighborhood with drugs, gangs and violence, with a father in jail and a drug addicted mother? What are the sufferings of a mother addicted to crack? Did she receive love, respect and education when she was a little girl? Many studies also show that everyone has the capacity to transform their life and learn the skills needed to become capable of taking care of themselves and their families. But due to the difficulties and lack of opportunities for many past generations, they need our help to get back up on their feet. They need our acceptance and love to be able to feel good about themselves again. Discrimination is causing so much suffering around the world, but when we stop to listen and look deeply, we recognize that we are all human beings, wishing to be able to love and care for our families, wishing to live in peace and freedom. The great diversity of colors, languages, culture and views become a wonderful asset for a more prosperous human existence on this planet.
I thank you Dear Mr. and Mrs. 1% for listening to my thoughts and feelings. I know that you have the means and influence to do great things for our planet and all people. But don't worry or feel burdened. You are not alone. There are many of us who are very eager to help you. We are all part of the 100%, and remembering and caring for all is a great joy. To support everyone to truly develop their talents and qualities will make our planet and society an even more amazing place to live.
Again, I wish you and your loved ones much happiness and peace as you enjoy the holidays together.
In joy and gratitude – Brother Protection