Monk in Wal-Mart


God, guns and country.

Then, a monk, not outside of Wal-Mart soliciting for donation, but inside, at the cashier line, waiting to pay.

It’s a common sight today.

But by turning the clock back a few decades, you wouldn’t expect both (Monk and Wal-Mart) to coexist.

At least, it’s not quite as contrast a sight as a Monk in Rodeo Drive  or Worth Avenue.

With the growing  Asian American population , there is an increasing need for “homegrown” spiritual nourishment.

Back then, young Americans would have to be so “rad” before “turning East” (that is, if they did not go North to evade the draft) That tide had been stamped out or overshadowed by the theocratic Moral Majority until the 90’s when the South Asian and Asian American population

(second generation) started to gain traction, and their parents could afford to upscale their kids to Ivy-league schools.

Studies show bi-lingual bi-cultural kids excel in school. Where else can they go to hone their first-turned-second language besides the Mosque, Pagoda and Churches.

The monks started to come (no more burning monk – an event which I eye-witnessed, and which Madam Nhu said if they wished, they could just “barbecue” themselves, since they had done it to themselves).

I have high respect for people who before green is cool, already subscribed to the tenet that we brought nothing to this Earth, thus try not to harm it. And that the path to Enlightenment is NOT to want things. With this backdrop in mind, it is quite a cognitive-dissonance to see a monk in Wal-Mart .Monks are taught to consume only if/when necessary, while Wal-Mart is a hotbed of consumerism in bulk. “Save more, live better”.

Recent numbers are showing that chains like TJ Maxx are doing well, unlike Macy and JC Penney.

Near where I live, in West Palm Beach, the JC Penney mall has turned ghost mall during the downturn of the economy.

Meanwhile, residents in the area feel like they are singled out to live in a ghost town . Incidentally there is a Hummer dealership nearby, which makes it worse if it ends up being own by the Chinese. All we need is a Haier,

a Hummer and a Huawei store to make this a nouveaux Chinatown, complete with spiritual tending by a Buddhist temple nearby. The Mormons and the Monks can stake out their turfs in this new world order, a sort of  World Cup for religious ideas.

What we need is public education on the environment, ethics, and economics. We have experienced enough devastation to appreciate their importance. And when the Earth cries out for attention like Katrina, Fukushima or Haiyan; when greed got the better of everyone (the Ponzification of America) we then start embracing Wal-Mart over Wall Street. The monk was probably too busy tending to his expanding flock to notice the difference. We prefer to roll back the Yuppies decade, trading up at Starbucks’ and while at it, throwing in a Bob Dylan CD (with T Shirt box set). That in itself is an irony (icon of protest now peddles his merchandise co-opting with yuppies, not hippies). When you see Starbucks come back, you know the economy has recovered.  For now, I will stick to instant coffee, while wholesale supplies last, at Wal-Mart. I am right behind the monk, in Wal-Mart.

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