Kill Your Inner John Bolton
We each have a miniature John Bolton living rent-free inside our heads, ruining our peace and promoting world domination at every opportunity.
Hear me out.
The most common objection I hear when I advocate non-interventionist foreign policy can essentially be boiled down to something like, “But- but- but if we’re not controlling the world all the time, then the world will be out of our control!” The argument, as I understand it, is that if the US-centralized empire stopped waging endless wars, staging coups, inflicting siege warfare upon civilian populations, patrolling the skies with flying death robots, arming terrorist militias, and torturing journalists who expose US war crimes, the bad guys might win.
The thing I find funny about this argument, apart from the obvious, is that this is also the basic objection that the mind makes when the body is seated in meditation.
“This is all fine,” the mind interrupts constantly while the meditator struggles to find peace. “But there are tasks we must attend to, and there are wrong people on the internet who simply must be put in their place. Life is cold and hostile and we must protect and secure ourselves against it if we’re to be safe. You can keep sitting there doing that breathing nonsense if you must, but I’ve got plans, schemes and witty comebacks to formulate. The world simply cannot get by without my being there to control it.”
The best kind of meditation happens to be the same as best kind of foreign policy: you simply allow everything to be as it is. You sit without trying to manipulate or control any aspect of your experience. Since all mental suffering is ultimately born of the mind’s habit of trying to control life to protect and secure the interests of the illusory ego, the path to inner peace is therefore the same as the path to world peace: just allow things to be as they are.
In this form of meditation, you don’t try to force your mind to concentrate on anything in particular, or engage in any kind of manipulation at all. Thoughts come up about things that need to get done, and you just allow those thoughts to be as they are. Feelings come up about people who have wronged us in the past or stressful situations in the future, and you let them be, without getting involved. Everything which arises in your field of consciousness is given full permission to be as it is, without any mental interventionism.
When you sit in this way, the mind doesn’t really know what to do. It’s only ever existed in the context of conflict and control, so eventually it just lays down and relaxes, like a child throwing a tizzy who the mother just ignores.
It turns out that there is a deep and pervasive peace underlying everyone’s field of consciousness, and the only thing which keeps us from noticing it is our mental habit of continually fighting to control life in various ways. When we can relax and just allow our field of consciousness to be as it is, we notice ourselves beholding it with benevolent detachment, because the deep and pervasive peace underlying the appearance of all forms is in fact our true nature.
But it takes a leap of faith. It takes a decision to trust the world to handle its own affairs. It takes a conscious decision to honor the sovereignty of everyone and everything. Exactly as non-interventionist foreign policy would.
In exactly the same way that Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton argues that the “anarchic international environment” is so dangerous that any means necessary must be employed to bring it under control, we too have a shrill, mustachioed voice in our heads continually arguing that life must be brought to heel at any cost. But in both cases it is the agenda to control the world, and the inability to simply trust it, which is our real enemy. Our enemy is not a cold, hostile world which resists our attempts to control it, no: our enemy is the John Boltons, both within and without.
The natural, default position of both human consciousness and human civilization is peace. It is only by the most rigorous efforts to control and manipulate our world that we drag ourselves kicking and screaming out of that natural state. We will come to peace, both within and without, when we choose to trust the world and take that leap of faith into our true nature. The path to all peace necessarily follows this one unifying trajectory.
And until then of course the objections will continue. “What about the Russians?” “What about the Chinese?” “What about the wrong people on the internet?” But the thing about those objections is they’re quickly becoming irrelevant: humanity simply cannot keep doing things the way it is doing them. We are fast approaching a point where we will either sharply diverge from our current trajectory and make drastic, sweeping changes, or we will all perish due to nuclear war or ecological collapse.
One way or the other the sun will rise one day upon a world without any John Boltons, either in our heads or in Washington, DC. The only say we have in the matter is in whether this will happen because we chose to rid ourselves of the evil mutant death walruses who are driving us toward death and destruction, or because they succeeded in doing so.