In Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, kosen-rufu or world peace “includes the struggle to transform the realm of the environment…using the democratic path of dialogue.” Dialogue and communicating with other people is important. I’ve realized this tremendously over the past few years after realizing that most people don’t have the ability to read my mind, and extended silence makes people uncomfortable. Interpersonal communication is a skill that I’ve been working on, mainly because I don’t find it all that enjoyable. I’m not sure why.
Communicating with and talking to other people is the best way to build relationships, learn about our differences, and discover what we have in common. This is true not only for individuals, but also for the U.S. government. It seems that over the past few years, our government has substituted capitalism for democracy. A Bernie Sanders quote clarifies this more succinctly:
Democracy is one person, one vote and a full discussion of issues that affect us. Oligarchy is billionaires buying elections, voter suppression and a concentrated corporate media determining what we see, hear and read.
The U.S. is slowly shifting from a democracy into an oligarchy, and it is not simply due to a lack of dialogue. It is due to rampant greed and a complete lack of compassion and concern for other people.
Daisaku Ikeda states:
Democracy is definitely not simply a matter of setting in place certain forms and institutions. Without content, democracy is an empty vessel that is easily crushed. What is this content? It is individual self-reliance and self-improvement. It is individual happiness. Democracy must enable each person in society to live to the fullest. Without valuing the sanctity of the individual, democracy is a mere shell.
President Toda said that individual happiness and social prosperity must go hand in hand. It is a grave mistake for society to neglect the well-being of the individual while striving only for economic growth. Individual happiness is not self-centered; rather, it is the process of solidifying one’s humanity, of developing wisdom and compassion in both oneself and others.
– The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra: A Discussion Volume V p39 – Daisaku Ikeda, Katsuji Saito, Takanori Endo, & Haruo Suda
This is what has happened in our society. We have focused almost entirely on economic growth at the expense of the health, well-being and happiness of the individual – including public education, health care, wages, immigration and the environment. We have confused capitalism with democracy and knowledge with wisdom.