The universe that we inhabit and our shared perception of it are the results of a common karma. […] The actions of each of us, human or nonhuman, have contributed to the world in which we live. We all have a common responsibility for our world and are connected with everything in it.
—His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
This year (Fiscal Year 2011, started in October), the United States government will spend 59% of the national budget of $3.69 trillion on the Military. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone will cost $1 trillion ($1,000,000,000,000).
In comparison, the US will spend 6% of the national budget on Health & Education, 6% on Transportation, 4% on State Assistance, 4% on Education, 3% on Homeland Security, 3% on Housing & Urban Development, 2% on Justice, 2% on Agriculture, and 1% each on NASA, Energy, Labor, Treasury, Interior, Environmental Protection, and Commerce. (The remaining 4% is spread out among smaller programs.)
The argument for this massive military spending is that we have need of a strong ‘defense’. However, consider the following table of Military Spending In 2009 by Country (the latest year for which it is available):
|Rank||Country||Military Expenditure 2009|
|1||United States||$ 663,255,000,000|
In 2009, the US spent $131,573,000,000 more on the military than the next 10 biggest spenders combined. It is important to note that this list includes eight of the staunchest and most reliable US allies. Is this level of spending truly necessary for ‘defense’, or is it rather the manifestation of an aggressive posture toward all other countries?
Because these numbers are so enormous as to defy comprehension, a simple comparison might be useful. If the US government provided each of the 15.3 million unemployed Americans with a job paying $50,000 per year, the total cost would be $765 billion for one year. The unemployment rate would be 0%, and there would still be $235 billion left to build schools, provide health care, or offer job training.
We can resort to blaming one or the other party in power, but this excessive military spending is a very stable trend, regardless of the administration in place in Washington. Rather, we must look at the collective attitudes that have made such a gross misallocation of funds possible.
While we might be personally unable to alter the federal budget in any significant way, we can and should examine our own minds, analyzing how and why we may have contributed to this aggressive mindset. Domestic violence, road rage, corporate raiding, sports rage, and all similar behaviors that are based on an overestimation of our own importance and the underestimation of others are manifestations of the same mindset.
Unless we learn to value and practice patience at home, at work, and in our communities, we can rail all we want against ‘big government’, but the seeds of violence and aggression will remain solidly planted in our hearts.
May all be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all embrace happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all abide in peace, free from self-grasping.
May all attain the union of wisdom and compassion.