Category Archives: Introductory
The connection between spirituality and politics
…is that each needs the other.
To start, let’s define the terms. Politics, for me, is reading, listening, thinking, talking, and acting in almost any sphere. Spirituality is anything you think it might be that isn’t pre-canned, spoon-fed organized religion. A principled atheist (sometimes called a “humanist”) can be spiritual, whether he or she knows it or not. Conversely, a rote Christian, Jew, Muslim, or whatever who never thinks independently and/or demonizes other groups is not, at least in my book.
Politics without spirituality lacks grounding in values, caring, and a sense that we’re all connected and connected with the earth. Spirituality without politics (caring about what’s happening in the world and doing something about it) is solipsistic navel-gazing. More than one of my friends and much that I read tell me that peaceful meditators, even if they do nothing else, are contributing to the welfare of the world. If their meditation practice gives rise to inner balance and calm in the rest of their lives, that may be true in a narrow sense. They may be more loving and patient, and people who encounter them may come away feeling calmer and happier too. All good. But undemocratic and unequal global and national political/economic systems go right on destroying and hurting. Spiritual practice could gradually lead to more people questioning the right and necessity of these systems continuing to exist, but making spiritual practice the source for and temporary refuge from direct political – hopefully revolutionary – activity would be a whole lot better. That’s what I do, and what I hope you’re doing, too.
I’m looking for fellow humans dissatisfied with the way things in the world (and in the U.S. in particular) are going.
That probably includes a lot of people, so let’s narrow it down.
You, like me, hate to see unnecessary, human-inflicted suffering, especially in the current unnecessary wars. You see some connection with the corporate, capitalist economic system, which you’re guessing is also the reason some have so much while many have so little, and why our governments aren’t dealing with the threat of global warming and the destruction of the environment. Global financial crises are making you wonder how much longer the current economic system can last, and what will happen to your savings if and when it crashes. You’ve also heard the phrases “Peak Oil” and “energy descent,” and wonder what they’ll mean for you and your kids.
Our president, elected because we wanted fundamental changes in our political and economic systems and a fresh approach to these problems, hasn’t delivered. Neither has a gridlocked Congress, whose mostly wealthy members are too concerned with getting reelected, satisfying corporate sponsors, and pushing partisan agendas to worry about our well-being. Their votes are almost never in line with what polls say we, the American people, believe in and want. But we don’t have enough money to get elected in a system where only money “talks,” and our votes don’t count for much is a good cop/bad cop two-party system.
Lots to worry about, lots of reasons to feel discouraged, and worry (fear) and discouragement (powerlessness) are painful, so we try not to think about these things too much. Besides, what can we do?
Not much on our own, but a lot if we face our various realities and work together to change them. That means putting relatively unimportant differences aside and supporting and helping each other. Not something we learned how to do in an individualistic, dog-eat-dog system, in which the powers-that-be pit us against each other and scapegoat vulnerable groups. But something that we find is in our “human nature,” something that takes fear and discouragement away and feels pretty damn good.
If you’re still with me, I invite you to come along for the ride, and explore these ideas together, taking action we’ve talked about, and, eventually, creating a better world for our kids and grandkids – and all the other young and innocent beings depending on us. We’re not kids, and we’re not stupid. We’re responsible, intelligent adults, and, come hell or high water, we’re going to stand up and act like it!