today is Consititution day!

Today, September 17th, is Constitution Day. So I decided to read the Constitution! Go figure.

I was reading through Article 2 (that’s the part about the executive branch of government — the presidency), and all of a sudden I got to the end. I was like “what, that’s it?!” Indeed, there’s relatively little written about the presidency, and the powers enumerated are quite restrictive.

Here’s the abbreviated version of Article 2:

Section 1. There’s a President. He gets elected, he gets paid, and he swears to uphold the Constitution.

Section 2. He’s in charge of the army, he gets to pardon people and make treaties with Senate consent. He also appoints Senators to fill vacancies.

Section 3. He is a congressional cheerleader: he delivers the State of the Union, and makes policy recommendations. He executes the laws that Congress wrote.

Section 4. He can be impeached.

And that’s it!

So during presidential debates, all this talk about this policy and that policy (“here’s how I’ll fix health care!”), running the economy (“check out my business credentials!”), and starting wars (“I’ll make the world safe for democracy!”); all this talk is fluff in light of the actual powers of the Constitution. The president gets to cheerlead Congress on policy, but other than that he only has the right to enforce the laws that already exist.

So like, if you haven’t read the Constitution recently, you might give it a read. It’s really quite short and accessible.

Edit: Whoops! I forgot article 1, section 7: the president gets to veto laws.

What’s at the intersection of vegan, yoga, and political liberty?

In a word: ahimsa.

Ahimsa is the principle of non-violence towards all living things. Adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle is one of the strongest statements of ahimsa a person can make, wherein one refuses to participate in any action which is connected to violence towards a living being.

Not all yogis are vegan. However, those that are not tend to gloss over the teaching of ahimsa, or insist (incorrectly) that adopting a vegan diet would be himsa (harmful) towards oneself. One prominent school of yoga that puts forth veganism as the true statement of ahimsa is the Jivamukti school. Many others gloss over or do not understand the immense suffering caused by the dairy industry, and so recommend a vegetarian diet that includes milk.

Ron Paul is apparently not a vegan. However, he understands the principle of ahimsa, at least as it applies to politics:

One rule you have to follow: and that is, in order to make the world a better place, you have to reject the notion that you use violence and force to do it. You have to do it through persuasion. If we want to change the world, if we want to change the Middle East, if we want to change Africa, you do it by spreading ideas and through persuasion. But the most important thing we do is do our job here, set an example, so others would want to emulate us, and that should be our [goal].

 – Ron Paul (from this video)

There’s a reason for all this. It’s not just because somebody handed down the rule of ahimsa from on high. The reason to follow ahimsa is because it works. In the realm of politics, if you try to make the world a better place by force and occupying other countries, you get the “blowback” effect, namely, you create resentment and anger towards the occupying country. In the realm of inner peace and meditation practice, you cannot find peace on the inside without living peacefully on the outside, i.e. a vegan lifestyle.