Would it be the brutal dictator or the Buddha?
That was the question a former employer once put to me.
She usually read in the afternoon and she was trying to decide between a book on Idi Amin and another on Eastern Philosophy.
I could see that the Amin book fascinated her.
I could also see that she felt she should read the book on the golden ways of the East. The spiritual book.
But aren’t both books spiritual?
True, the Amin book tells of the darkest side of human life…
…but in doing so, doesn’t it bring us to contemplate the mysteries of the human spirit?
I think we can learn much from the story of Idi Amin—especially if we see how Amin is us.
In fact, as I reflect, I can see a bit of Amin in this employer…
Though she was never involved in mass slaughter…
…like Amin, she was more than a little paranoid.
She was never certain who she could trust. A friend could suddenly be perceived to be a foe.
Like Amin, she wanted tight control over her kingdom. For example: we had to inventory every single thing—down to the last #2 pencil.
But also, like Amin, she could be very generous and outgoing—downright effusive. I don’t know if I’d call her charismatic, but here I am, years later, still talking about her…
…so she must’ve had something.
Taking all this into consideration, if she asked me to choose between the two books today, I’d say, “Why not go with the Amin book?
“You might learn just as much about humanity…
“I know that when I hear such stories, I begin to ponder the human life of a soul–all that we go must through, the many different ways we humans respond to the experience of life…
“Such books raise my level of empathy. I feel the need to do something more for humankind, to do more towards becoming a better human being, to do something to counterbalance the Amins of this world…”
I’d say all that, but probably wouldn’t mention that Amin could be a mirror to her…
…just as Amin could be a mirror to me.
Instead, I’d conclude by saying:
“And then, after maybe an hour with that book, take a few minutes to read some Eastern Philosophy—you’ll need it then, you’ll want it—it’ll be like taking a shower.”
© 2012, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry