The Sad State of International Politics

The basic assumption of diplomacy is not peace, not compassion, but selfishness. In times of war, or in times of crisis, like a global pandemic, there appears a tremendous amount of calculation, political maneuvering, and deceit. There is so rarely anyone at the international stage who could sincerely say something, who could deliver a message without any ulterior motive. We have seen this going on, and the current Russian war in Ukraine is only a further testament to this selfishness. Every country went out to say something, to make a statement, to say how appalled or proud they are, and so on. But hidden behind these words, were only empty promises, because they didn't really want to promise anyone anything, only to secure their own self-interests.

It is also in a time of crisis that we can have a glimpse of our fundamental identity: humanity. We have been struggling with our differences since we existed. Yet, a crisis always showed how we are the same. We all want security. We all want to have physical security. We all want to be away from war. We all suffer. We all hurt. We have all experienced hardships, no matter what form, either physical or psychological. We all desire happiness and love. We all want to feel comfort, to feel a sense of communion. We are all so afraid of being alone, to be lost, or to lose. These are humanity's common factors. And, somehow, international politics do not see this. It is always me first, and you second. There is never any sense of selfless assistance. There is so rarely any desire to help without also wanting a reward. The utter hypocrisy of politics is so blatant and obvious, and do we accept that?

Sadly, many of us do accept this selfishness. We justify it, normalize it, rationalize it. Unfortunately, most of us lead a selfish life, so when a country is selfish, we say we understand. We say this is the best we can ever be. This is of course illusory. We haven't been better. We have been exactly the same psychologically since we were in tribes and villages. We have only become more cunning, more able to lie to ourselves, finding ever more ways to deceive and to perform. If we are honest to ourselves, our utter selfishness is appalling. It is appalling precisely because we see how utterly cold and cruel all this is. This is compassion. We know how cold we are, then shall we stop that? We know how meaningless and hypocritical this business of politics is, then shall we leave it behind?

This is a tremendous thing to ask someone to do, to leave this business of selfishness behind, because, for most of us, selfishness has been our entire life. We have never known anything else. We have never understood what it means to be selfless. We might think we know, by helping others, by doing charity, by waving a sign which says stop war. But that is not selflessness either. The self is so deeply layered in our consciousness that it is nearly impossible to even see how deep it is buried. But, are we at least willing to face this selfishness? Can we at least begin to question ourselves, our most basic assumptions about life? Any assumptions we have about life are all part of the self. The root of the self is to say that I know. The root of the self is to say that I understand what life is, that I know what is right and what is wrong. The root of the self is to pretend that I have the power of knowing, of judgement. The root of the self is to pretend that one is God, the arbiter of truth. The root of the self is deceit, hypocrisy, division, conflict, duality.

When we face ourselves as we are, we then do not escape into fantasies. We stop saying that we should be, or we shouldn't be. We are who we are. In this simple awareness of things as they are is already the flowing of selflessness. This radical honesty is already the act of no-self. Radical honesty has no motive. Radical honesty means that it is exactly as it is. No more descriptive fluff. No more escapes. No more justifications. No more rationalizations. It is. I am. Full stop.

Selfishness is a fact. When we do not escape this fact by trying to transform it, selfishness yields. Selfishness can only move when it thinks there is somewhere else to be. Selfishness is based on the fantasy of a future, a better place, a promised land. Selfishness is always going somewhere. But when selfishness faces itself, and sees exactly as it is, then there is no self whatsoever. Reality is already without any motive, any calculation, any hypocrisy. Reality is radically honest, because it is precisely what it is.


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Cover photo by Aman Upadhyay on Unsplash