From a Buddhist monastic to the bottom of the barrel, I’ve seen it all this past two weeks. Life’s rich pageant continues in the life of Steve Skinner. I’m sure the same can be said for you or practically anyone with eyes wide open. Just put out a net and catch a marauding bulldozer or a political leader with pants down. My travels have taken me from the Roaring Fork Valley, to the Crystal River Valley to the Fraser Valley, to Reno, Nev., and back again.
The sex scandals bursting in the air are a holiday reminder that it’s time to let women through the glass ceiling here in America. As lifelong careers explode like a bag of microwave popcorn on high, women cannot take over soon enough.
Scandals are hitting home in Colorado as the Denver Post reports accusations against state Sens. Randy Baumgardner and Jack Tate, and state Reps. Paul Rosenthal and Steve Lebsock. I am reminded on a daily basis that we get what we vote for. The speed with which shoes are dropping, you’d think that almost every guy in office is stumbling around with his pants around his ankles chasing an intern or other subordinate. Let’s put more women in charge.
Just in time, two weeks ago, Venerable Thubten Semkye, a Buddhist nun from the Sravasti Abbey in northeastern Washington, was in Carbondale visiting the Way of Compassion Dharma Center presenting a weekend-long intensive on the principle of “fortitude.” I had the great pleasure of interviewing her for my podcast (steveskinner.podbean.com) and she talked about generating mental fortitude in these times of abuse, outrage and scandal. She was teaching how not to get angry as we navigate the stormy seas of today’s challenging times.
The practices and themes of Buddhist fortitude may be thousands of years in the making but you don’t have to be a monastic to benefit from the practices of mind training, compassion and patience outlined in her interview. Try them the next time you go to the airport or watch TV.
Last week in Fraser, a place where Ven. Semkye used to live, I picked up the brand new book, “Killdozer, The True Story of the Colorado Bulldozer Rampage,” written by local journalist Patrick Brower. You don’t have to be from Granby or the Fraser Valley to enjoy this fast-paced page turner.
Some of you may recall the story of Marv Heemeyer, a local resident who felt wronged by the local paper, the local government, his neighbors and others. On June 4, 2004, he burst from a shed and did the exact opposite of what the Buddha recommends, destroying much of the town of Granby in his Komatsu D355 bulldozer, which he converted into a fortified monster tank.
This bad boy weighed in at 61.5 tons before Marv added more than 14 tons of steel plating and concrete to create an impenetrable rowing cage for his tank. It took him a year and a half to build the beast in a steel shed (with no one noticing) until he shredded the shed at 2:01 p.m. and headed out to destroy the neighbor’s concrete batch plant. He did drop a few hints to his friends but they ignored his ranting in favor of having a nice day.
Local and state police threw everything they had at the tank, but it proceeded to destroy everything it touched in slow motion from the town hall, to the newspaper offices, to the local bank, the concrete batch plant and plenty of homes, vehicles and businesses. The dozer finally overheated two hours and seven minutes into the rampage. Marv ended the destruction by ending his own life.
To say that Marv had anger issues is an understatement. But he’s not alone. A quick scan of YouTube shows hundreds of Heemeyer fans ready to take his side and jump on without knowing any of the annoying facts. To thousands of conspiracy nuts around the country and the world the guy that tanked a town in anger was justified, a hero.
I don’t condone Marv’s actions but his loose mind was frustrated to death by his dealings with his local government, local voters and the local paper and decided to take matters into his own hands. He could have used some anger management and mind training.
There’s no excuse to build a tank and destroy a town, but dealing with local governments can be frustrating. I’ve seen it again and again: Public comment comes in strong for or against a project, the officials pretend to listen and then vote completely opposite from what they just heard from the majority of their constituents. I’ve been to many public meetings and observed appalling maneuvers from non-profit boards, county commissions and everything in between. I once served on a homeowner’s association board for a trailer park. Shoosh!
Public input is a necessary nuisance for many government officials. This goes right up the political food chain right to the very top. No one is listening. Some are apparently too busy chasing interns around the office to absorb public input.
Net neutrality? Give your input but the fix is already in. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling? Part of the tax relief plan. Healthcare? An entitlement that has to go. National monuments? Shrink ’em and pave ’em. Bears Ears? Deaf ears. Dakota Access pipeline? Force it. Neighborhood sawmill? Public opinion is now being rejected. Get involved to your own peril. It’s no wonder people are so pissed off and apathetic. If I wasn’t in mind training now I’d be tempted to act out.
Misinformation is but a click away. Harassment is but a caress away. People are armed to the teeth and the next rampage is being planned now.
I just flew to Reno to visit family relatives. Someone has been feeding my mother brain loads of conspiracies and fake news. She’s not angry enough to build a tank (besides, she doesn’t weld), but if she spent her time training her mind for fortitude instead of worrying about contrails she’d have a more positive perspective.
Steve Skinner is intrigued by mind training. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.