An Open Letter to Our World:
DO POLITICAL PROGRESSIVES HAVE
NO SPIRITUAL MESSAGE?
Has anybody noticed that a conservative political groundswell is sweeping the Earth? It is not just the mid-term elections in the United States that have reflected this. Everywhere we are seeing a hunger among humanity to return to more conservative values.
What human begins really want is a return to the world as we once knew it. A safer world. A kinder world. A more caring world. (Or at least it seemed so.)
Rabbi Michael Lerner, of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, is now making the point in his blogs, magazine articles, newspaper interviews and other writings, that until progressive and liberal leaders start talking about values, and not simply social programs, they are talking about nothing.
I agree with Rabbi Lerner when he observes that many spiritual progressives (perhaps most) are timid in the extreme about discussing the values from which the social programs they espouse arise.
(I would add that some of them may not even be sure about those values themselves.)
I have been saying for years that a spirituality without practical application is bankrupt, and political activity without spiritual activity is impossible, because the two are intrinsically tied. Indeed, at their core they are one and the same.
All politics are spiritual, because political activity is nothing more than a process by which we seek to put into practice “on the ground” what we hold in our hearts. It is humanity’s earnest attempt to translate its most sacred beliefs into behavior.
But beliefs about what? About the economy? About foreign affairs? About national spending priorities? No. Politics are about what we believe about ourselves. About who we are, and why we are here. About the God of our understanding, and the purpose of life.
Rabbi Lerner is right. The Republicans in the U.S. have been successful because they have been able to raise the discussion above the merely functional to the manifestly spiritual. Republican (that is to say, conservative) views are expressed in religious congregations across America. Yet there is more than one spiritual view of things, and failing to advance an alternate view is where progressives and liberals have failed–exactly as Rabbi Lerner says.
They have failed to powerfully articulate a spiritual worldview that captures the attention, if not to say the imagination, of the everyday person — who, I am convinced, is yearning for an alternate spiritual truth that could turn a world of nonsense into a world that makes sense.
When I say “alternate,” I mean a second option, a second understanding, a differing expression of our natural impulse toward The Divine that dramatically alters the focus of our energies and changes the course of our experience on Earth.
Our job as spiritual progressives is to advance that new worldview, that alternative idea of God and Humans, and of the relationship between the two.
Regarding the political challenge now facing not just the people who reside in the United States, but our species around the world, many people see Conservatism vs. Liberalism as a case of fundamental spiritual values vs runaway socialism, if not rampant hedonism. Liberals have not seriously or energetically advanced any spiritually-based alternative, any spiritual counteroffer, to the fundamentalist spiritual values of many Conservatives: belief in God (and God’s Law as they understand it), hard work, personal responsibility, and sharing/caring for others as a free-will gift, not as a socially or politically mandated obligation.
It’s hard to argue against that. On its surface, that feels like a perfectly acceptable and workable solution to humanity’s problems. Only when looking deeper at the whole relationship between God and Humanity (and therefore the relationship between humans and humans, humans and the Earth, humans and everything), and only when more comprehensively exploring the entire reason and purpose for the existence of Life itself, can a New View of Reality have the space to emerge.
It is the job of liberals and progressives to urge people everywhere to undertake that deeper look and that more comprehensive exploration of these larger questions—what I have called the Four Fundamental Questions of Life: Who am I? Where am I? Why am I where I am? What do I intend to do about that?
These are part of the Seven Simple Questions that I advanced in my book, The Storm Before the Calm. The other three are:
- How is it possible that 7 billion members of a single species could all want the same thing—survival, safety, security, peace, prosperity, opportunity, happiness, and love—and be unable to produce it, even after thousands of years of trying?
- Is it possible that there is something we don’t fully understand about God and about Life, the understanding of which would change everything?
- Is it possible that there is something about ourselves and about who we are, the understanding of which would alter our lives forever for the better?
I have been offering in my writing for years that the challenge facing humanity is that most human beings keep trying to solve humanity’s problems at every level except the level at which the problems exist.
First we try to solve our problems as if they were political problems, because we are used to using political pressure on this planet to get people to do what they don’t want to do.
We hold discussions, we write laws, we pass legislation and adopt resolutions in every local, national, regional, and global language and assembly we can think of to try to solve the problem with words—but it does not work. Whatever short-term solutions we may create evaporate very quickly, and the problems reemerge. They will not go away.
So we say, “Okay, these are not political problems and they cannot be solved with political means. They are economic problems.” And because we are used to using economic power on this planet to get people to do what they don’t want to do, we then try to solve the problems as if they were economic problems.
We throw money at them, or withhold money from them (as in the form of sanctions), seeking to solve the problems with cash. But it does not work. Whatever short-term solutions we may create evaporate very quickly, the problems reemerge. They will not go away.
And so we say, “Okay, these are not economic problems, and they cannot be solved by economic means. They must be military problems.” And because we are used to using military might on this planet to get people to do what they don’t want to do, we then try to solve the problems as if they were military problems.
We throw bullets at them and drop bombs on them, seeking to solve the problems with weapons. But it does not work. Whatever short-term solutions we may create evaporate very quickly, and the problems reemerge. They will not go away. And so, having run out of solutions, we declare: “These are not easy problems. No one expected that they could be fixed overnight. This is going to be a long, hard slog. Many lives will be lost in trying to solve these problems. But we are not going to give up. We are going to solve these problems if it kills us.” And we don’t even see the irony in our own statements.
After a while, however, even primitive beings of very little consciousness become tired of the killing and the dying of their own sons and daughters in battle and their own women and children and elderly in the line of fire. And so, after enough killing has been done with no solution in sight, they say it is time to call a truce and hold peace talks. And the cycle begins again…
We are back to the bargaining table, and back to politicking as a solution. And peace talks often include discussion of reparations and economic recovery. And so, we are back to money as a solution. And when these solutions fail to work in the long run, we are back to bombs again.
And on and on and on it goes, and on and on and on it has gone throughout human history. Only the names of the players have changed, but the game has not.
Only primitive cultures and primitive beings do this. We have all heard the definition of insanity. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting to get a different result.
We can’t seem to change our ways, however, because we are very used to trying to force solutions in our world. Yet solutions that are forced are never solutions at all. They are simply postponements.
The great tragedy and the great sadness of humanity is that we are forever willing to settle for postponements in place of solutions.
Only primitive cultures and primitive beings do that. Highly evolved beings would never, ever settle for a ten-thousand-year postponement in solving their biggest problems. Here on this planet we’ve never really faced the largest problem of humanity head on. We refuse to. We pretend we don’t even know what it is. And so we do our endless dance all around it. And we continue, century after century, to try to solve the world’s problem at every level except the level at which the problem exists.
So now let’s just say it plainly. The problem facing humanity today is not a political problem, it is not an economic problem, and it is certainly not a military problem. The problem facing humanity today is a spiritual problem, and it can only be solved by spiritual means.
The problem is rooted in our most fundamental beliefs about life, about each other, and about the Essence or Energy that some of us call God.
Put simply, the problem is that we believe in Separation. We believe that all things are separate from other things, that all people are separate from other people, and that all humans are separate from God.
This is, and has been for millennia, our Cultural Story. It is a Story of Separation.
Our opportunity on the Earth today is to jointly author a brand new story about who we are and how it is with us. And most important, how it’s going to be.
We are invited to declare, at long last, as a single voice, the truth of our being: We are all One. And with that declaration as the foundation of our New Cultural Story, we can bring an end at last to Separation Theology.
Separation Theology is a theology that insists that we are “over here” and God is “over there.” Its doctrine tells us that God separated us from God as punishment for our sins, and that our job now is to get back to God, which is possible only if God will allow it, which God will do only if we obey God’s commands, follow God’s laws, and submit to God’s will. In short, we must do what God wants.
This Separation Theology has produced a Separation Cosmology (that is, a way of looking at all of life on this planet that includes separation as its basic principle), which, in turn, has produced a Separation Psychology (that is, a psychological way of looking at things, of holding life, that rests on a foundation of separation), which, in turn, has produced a Separation Sociology (that is, a way of socializing with each other that encourages us to act as separate beings serving our own separate interests), which, in the end, has produced a Separation Pathology (that is, pathological behaviors of self-destruction, producing suffering, conflict, violence, and death by our own hands).
Only when our Separation Theology is replaced by a Unity Theology will our pathology be healed. We must come to understand that all of life is One.
This is our first step. It is the jumping off point. It is the beginning of the end of how things now are. It is the start of a new creation, of a new tomorrow. It is our only viable New Cultural Story.
We must announce and declare that Oneness is not a characteristic of Life, Life is a characteristic of Oneness.
Life is the expression of Oneness Itself. God is the expressionof Life Itself. God and Life are One. And we are all a part of Life. We do not and cannot stand outside of it. Therefore we are a part of God. It is a circle. It cannot be broken.
What does all of this have to do with liberals and progressives?Well, if we believe that humanity can and must change its Cultural story, from one of Separation to one of Oneness, we will do what we can to place this new Cultural Story on the ground.
First, we can make a firm commitment this day to demonstrate Oneness in every moment, by the way we move through Life.
We can choose to show that we are One with everyone and everything, just by the way we think and speak and act . . . this very day.
If we are consciously aware of what we are thinking, saying, and doing, we will relate to other people…the other person in our life, the other people in our family, the others everywhere on this planet…in a different way today, seeing them, experiencing them, as part of ourselves.
Now one might say, “That’s all very nice, but what difference will it make? It’s not going to change anything in Ukraine today.” And that could be right. In the immediate sense, that could be correct. But imagine what would happen in the long run if everyone reading these words today chose to act in every moment as if We Are All One.
Each of us is going to touch other people before this week is out. And they, in turn, will touch other people. And those people will touch others.
Do we think this means nothing? This is how the world works. This is how politics work. This is how societies work. This is how religions work.
We have more power than we know. If we begin moving through the world a certain way today, the world could begin to change tomorrow.
The readership of this online newspaper could start a snowball rolling downhill. Yes it could. Believe it or not.
And then there is prayer. This, too, as we know . . . is very powerful. And so we can pray every day that the world will at last come to its senses, stop all this nonsense, and see . . . and live . . . the truth of our being.
And we can bring other people to this awareness. We can write Letters to the Editor, send messages to our society’s leaders, and, on a more personal level, we can read the book The Storm Before the Calm, published in full right here on this website.
It lays out a powerful course of action that we can take right now to assist us all in re-writing our Cultural Story.
Then we can join the Evolution Revolution and begin, in our own living room, a grass roots movement designed to change the world.
To learn more about this, return to this newspaper’s Front Page and click on the Blue Box in the right hand column.
So there is something we can do — about our life, and about our world. Things do not have to be the way they seem inevitably to be.