We are a democratic people who believe in democracy, which means equality, due process, freedom, privacy, consent and dissent, toleration, and the common good. We believe in it so adamantly that we advocate it for the world. This is because in the past, democracy has worked well for our country. But within the last decade, problems have arisen that threaten our democracy's very existence.

One of the main tenants of a democracy is bringing people of common thought and goals together. It requires a country with like-minded people and defined borders, both of which have deteriorated. It is now at the point that our culture no longer can be defined as like-minded people, and our borders are impossible to maintain.

As we have become a diverse society, with more or less open borders, like-mindedness is disappearing. The very fabric of our democracy is melting into a quagmire of indecision and inaction as witnessed in congress during the last decade. We are no longer like-minded at all. Instead, we are torn in many different directions by countless and diverse interests.

The current health care debate is indicative of this shift toward a dysfunctional democracy. It is blatantly clear to everyone in the world, even people in this country with special interests, that our healthcare system is in a shambles and is a disgrace compared to many systems in other countries that function well. Thirty percent of our health care costs are tied up in paperwork generated by 1500 different insurance companies reaping a profit for basically doing nothing - acting as a go-between, a middleman between a patient and his or her care.

Short term goals (profits) of many diverse interests are overriding the long term goal of the general population's best interests, and since congress merely reflects the population at large, people in government, no different from the rest of us, are getting what they can while they can (again, short term goals), and considering only themselves in any legislative battle.

This is all happening now, and the divisiveness is increasing - this cannot be denied. Hatred is spewing all over this country. Non-cooperation has replaced working together for a common goal. There no longer is one common goal. The diversity of our populace now has many goals, and almost all of them are conflicting and self-centered.

With borders remaining open (because there is no practical, inexpensive way to close them), the diversity will increase perhaps to the point of a total breakdown of government. This will happen when the general populace loses all confidence in the system, which may not be too far off. Once it is discovered that changing parties or presidents won't make any difference, there will be unrest. The result will be, as it always has been; street justice, and navigating on our own through the cracks and crevices of a dysfunctional, unsupportable system that we have lost all respect for.

All of this will undermine the lifestyle that we are accustomed to, as each person and institution turns their back on the idea of a national interest and instead only looks after themselves. This is a defensive maneuver, as we see the total disfunctioning of the system, and where all cohesiveness disappears. In this atmosphere, anarchy and revolution can easily come to fruition.

So the question is; how can we get back to our functional democracy before it's too late.

The radio talk show hosts spewing hatred on both sides have no idea what kind of harm they are doing by exaggerating and highlighting the conflicts in society, and what their actions may lead to. They are not the ideologues they pretend to be, but only looking out for their own popularity and wealth by pitting society against itself and finding ways daily to control and push their listener's buttons.

This short term personal gain instead of long term societal gain, however, is becoming rooted in society as a whole, replacing the common good - and this is not relegated to only radio talk show hosts. As a matter of fact, the popularity of radio talk shows are merely a reflection of what society at large is feeling, and indicative of what is happening to our collective consciousnesses.

When hatred replaces co-operation, super ego takes over. This is no different from a barroom brawl where things quickly escalate out of control and people suddenly become insane, and willing to die in order to win. And this is where society, as a whole, can break down into chaos.

The solution to all of this is not an easy one. It requires introspection by each individual into their own minds, minds that have become so manic, fearful, self centered, and material driven that they are bordering insanity. But how could we expect anyone to do this, to study their own minds?

As a meditation instructor, I can tell you that a very, very small percentage of people understand and have insight into this whole premise of introspection, and take any action in this direction - the only direction towards which the real solution lies. Systems, ideologies, and governments per se can never solve our problems as long as the people in charge have scattered and conflicting minds, void of the values that truly make people and society happy.

Look into your own mind and what do you see? If you see hatred and divisiveness, regardless of whether you think that you are right, or justified, or for whom or what the hatred is targeted, there will be conflict in your life, and this will reflect in society as a whole. Find a way to end the hatred, the conflict, the aggression, before it's too late. You can never win that way. The more you push, the more you will be pushed back until there is violence. Hatred creates hatred.

You can only win when the mind is strong enough that it is no longer affected by outside influences and circumstances, regardless of what they are. Then, nothing can push your buttons any longer, and no longer will you be a puppet with someone else pulling your strings, and you can truly make a difference.

And then, you will become a fearless warrior.

Author's Bio: 

Anagarika eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary
www.dhammarocksprings.org and author of A Year to Enlightenment. His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Thervada Buddhist monk. He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.