Right Speech: A 2016 Election Practice Invitation


Excerpts from Good Citizens, Thich Nhat Hanh

“We must learn to speak out so that the voice of the Buddha, the voice of Jesus, the voice of Mohammad and all our spiritual ancestors can be heard in this dangerous and pivotal moment in history…. We have the tools. We have the path. We have the ability—with practice—to have the insight.

“Imagine the president of the United States being surrounded by many advisers from industry and the military. He’s a politician. Is the Sangha strong enough and present enough to help support him so that he can remain himself? We should do something to show him and our other politicians that the Sangha is there, supporting him [or her].”

I invite you to engage in the very real issues facing our country this election season by participating in this Election Practice Invitation.

Below you will find unaltered excerpts from the Republican and Democratic published party platforms, excerpts pertaining to the use and stewardship of Mother Earth.  This Election Practice Invitation challenges you to 1) take as the subject of your meditation the similarities and differences in the party platforms as they pertain to ecological awareness and stewardship, and 2) write a loving statement to share with other concerned citizens your insight, compassion, and equanimity.

This Practice Invitation is rooted in Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching on right speech and love letter writing.  He encourages us to take care of our anger, cultivate calm and kindness, reflect on wrong perceptions, and aspire for reconciliation, peace and mutual well-being. In this practice, we aim to speak truthful words that do not cause division, but we clearly lift our voice against oppression and injustice.

You needn’t write a whole letter to take this challenge, only a sentence or two. You may want to water the flower of understanding in another, express your insights, speak to the ethics of daily living (consider the Five Mindfulness Trainings), share your personal stories, respectfully request a candidate or political party take a specific action, or express a particular gratitude.

I offer this Election Practice Invitation to help us find our voice as continuations of our spiritual ancestors. This practice will help us articulate the understanding and wisdom in our hearts (during this time of conflict and consequence) and communicate more skillfully with fellow concerned citizens.

Contemplate the Republican and Democratic Party Platform excerpts I faithfully cut and pasted into the table below and share your offering of a love letter (250 words or less) as a comment to this post. I hope that soon, a collection of miniature love letters will grow, messages that will be helpful in deepening our understanding and finding our voice.

With a healing aspiration,

Heather Lyn Mann, True Lotus Peace

PS. You can also check out the published political platforms of other parties, including: the Green Party, the Independent Party  and the Libertarian Party.


2016 Republican Party Platform 2016 Democratic Party Platform
PERCEPTIONS. The central fact of any sensible environmental policy is that, year by year, the environment is improving. The impacts of climate change will also disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities, tribal nations, and Alaska

Native villages—all of which suffer the worst losses during extreme weather and have the fewest resources to prepare. Simply put, this is environmental racism.

UNDERSTANDING. Even if no additional controls are added, air pollution will continue to decline for the next several decades due to technological turnover of aging equipment. The best science tells us that without ambitious, immediate action across our economy to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases, all of these impacts will be far worse in the future.
CLIMATE CHANGE. Climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue. This is the triumph of extremism over common sense, and Congress must stop it. Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time.
JOBS.  Keeping energy in the earth will keep jobs out of reach of those who need them most. Democrats reject the notion that we have to choose between protecting our planet and creating good-paying jobs.
FEDERAL REGULATORY AUTHORITY We propose to shift responsibility for environmental regulation from the federal bureaucracy to the states and to transform the EPA into an independent bipartisan commission…. We will likewise forbid the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide, something never envisioned when Congress passed the Clean Air Act. Democrats are committed to closing the Halliburton loophole that stripped the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its ability to regulate hydraulic fracturing
INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS. We reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement Democrats share a deep commitment to tackling the climate challenge….and meeting the pledge President Obama put forward in the landmark Paris Agreement,
UNITED NATIONS. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution. Its unreliability is reflected in its intolerance toward scientists and others who dissent from its orthodoxy…. We demand an immediate halt to U.S. funding for the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
MEETING FUTURE ENERGY NEEDS… coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource. We are committed to getting 50 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources within a decade, with half a billion solar panels installed within four years and enough renewable energy to power every home in the country.
DRILLNG… we support the opening of public lands and the outer continental shelf to exploration and responsible production We oppose drilling in the Arctic and off the Atlantic coast…. Democrats will work to expand the amount of renewable energy production on federal lands and waters
KEYSTONE PIPELINE. The Keystone Pipeline has become a symbol of everything wrong with the current Administration’s ideological approach…. We intend to finish that pipeline and others as part of our commitment to North American energy security. We support President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.
COLLABORATION. The environment is too important to be left to radical environmentalists… Their approach is based on shoddy science, scare tactics, and centralized command-and-control regulation. Democrats believe in the conservation and collaborative stewardship of our shared natural heritage


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