The Long Walk For Justice And Peace — A Conversation With Satish Kumar
The central realization that pulled me away from monkhood was that there is no escaping from life; the spirit has to be practiced in the everyday world, and not outside of it. The world is beautiful — the earth, the land, the people — and you have to accept even pain and suffering as part of that beauty. That realization threw me into the social, political, economic, cultural arena. It convinced me that wholeness of life is paramount.
Possessions are signs of status, success, position, and power. It’s no wonder that our modern society has been called the consumer society. Unlimited economic growth has become the ideal of every nation in the world. In order to achieve such growth, we have destroyed lives, families, the social fabric, and our relationship with the natural world. We have passed the point of increasing human well-being by increasing material wealth.
After all these years, my father’s rich, deep voice still filled me with a mixture of fear and awe, even over the telephone, “I don’t know why you people want a dog,” he said. By “you people,” he meant not just me and my husband, but everyone everywhere who has ever had the slightest inclination to get a dog.
Nobody could remember a time when there had been so many bears in the valley, not even the old-timers who had lived there all of their lives. It was early fall, and the weather was turning. We’d had the worst summer of fires in many years, and endured our ninth year of drought. In the high country of Idaho, the berry bushes were brown, and the streams had dried up. Hungry and facing the prospect of winter, the bears began moving down into the valleys.
For the novelty of it, I had agreed to work construction for a day with my brother Neil. I was kneeling on a roof, driving a nail into a piece of plywood, but after each hit, the nail went crooked and fell out. I began to get discouraged. Neil, standing nearby, instructed me to “pound harder.” So I did, but I still couldn’t drive it straight. My shoulders collapsed, and I wriggled in babyish frustration. Neil took two steps toward me, kissed me directly below my right ear, and knocked the nail in with one swing. And I thought, I want a man like that.
Ordinarily, Marko Sakic walked the five blocks to work at his grocery store on the Street of Proletarian Brigades in Nizograd, Croatia, but these days he drove, because he didn’t want to face his neighbors in the streets. Croatia had recently declared its independence from Serb-ruled Yugoslavia, and, as a Serb, Marko didn’t know what this meant for him. He wanted to be inconspicuous.