When I was asked to provide a shorter version of my 56,000-word book, I came up with the 4500-word essay you have just read. As I finished it, all I could think was: “Man, this document has way too many holes.” You just found another.
The various parts of the TDG have many links to them — and these links are holding each other up. If they cannot be explained in 4500 words, I wonder how I can adequately address your concerns in a few short paragraphs. But I shall try:
I spent six years in party politics. It was a culture of competition for status, influence, and power. If an ambitious party member could not get to the top, he/she tried to get as close to the top as possible. I believe this culture really does not resonate well with any Buddhist traditions.
For sure, there were ambitious people who entered politics with a reasonably good sense of virtue. But sooner or later, they are forced into a compromise with their virtues. One cannot win elections without making a few of these compromises.
And, of course, we have had a few too many ambitious party members who have some serious lack in virtues. The election campaign and media coverage really don’t show the voters that side of the person.
When it becomes public knowledge that a politician or political party has behaved corruptly, that sends a signal to the citizenry that if the top dogs can be unvirtuous, so too can they cut some corners in virtues. For example, if a politician profits indirectly from some new legislation, a contract carpenter just might say: “I’m not going to declare income on this particular contract and pay taxes on it.” And maybe later the carpenter just might justify using cheaper material than the building codes stipulate, but still base charges on the more expensive material.
To explain in a different way, everyone of us is an ambassador for promoting virtues or lack of virtues. However, the behavior of a politician leverages this ambassadorship to a greater extent than what a common person can. I might be able to exert a small influence on a 200 people each month. A politician has influence millions.
If our political world is not behaving in a virtuous way, it is bringing a lot of people down to its level. It’s no longer sufficient (in my opinion) for virtuous people to hope that their virtues can override the effects of the lack of virtuere from more powerful people in society. You and I may still strive to enhance our virtues, but if 300 people decide to go in the opposite direction because that’s what our political leaders are doing, our work on ourselves seems rather pointless, doesn’t it?
The TDG elections will really help bring the virtuous people into the field of governance. When good virtues are exemplified (and the TDG weeds out bad virtues), the political world will now be leaders of virtue development.
While I can’t recall any Buddhists being elected politicians in Canada, I can see the TDG electing a few Buddhists on a regular basis. If your neighbors like you, you just might be elected. Just be “you” and let your position in the TDG happen. You may stay at the neighborhood level for a long time. You may rise higher. You may not be elected next year. If you are called into this TDG service, serve with the best of your abilities. When you are no longer called, step back and take another role in life.
If the political side of our society is virtuous, it will lead the general citizenry in the same direction. The TDG will find those virtuous people. “Greed, aversion and ignorance” will become less and less. And then the TDG will be electing even better people!
I hope this helps. I recommend reading the whole book.
P.S. I have had a couple of Medium requests to reduce to the TDG to 100 words. That can’t be done with any sense of justice.