“There are no sides, only angles … and when we see things from the proper angle, we see we are all on the same side.”
— Swami Beyondananda
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so two pictures must be worth at least two thousand words. And what with talk being cheaper than it’s ever been, pictures are even more valuable. So … check out the two pictures below.
The one on the left is Steve Bhaerman back in the early 70s, when he lived in a commune he and friends playfully called The Embassy of Atlantis because of its simultaneous location on Embassy Row in Washington, D.C. and in a parallel reality.
The one on the right? No, it’s not some colorized version of a Confederate soldier during the Civil War. It’s Joseph McCormick in the early 1980s as a cadet at Virginia Military Institute.
Obviously, these two individuals started out on very different paths coming from very different places. And yet now, in these truly evolutionary times, their paths have interwoven together. Despite vastly different backgrounds and experiences, they have come to similar conclusions, and find themselves on the same mission: To reunite America around the virtues and values we have in common, because it appears to be the only way to coalesce the whole-brained, whole-hearted intelligence required to transform the current spiritual, political, ecological and economic crises into an evolutionary opportunity.
Now if you take a look at the current political landscape, and you see angry folks on either side of a barricade, it’s easy to feel discouraged. However, when you also consider the “fierce conversations” Joseph has been leading in small communities and large cities, there is a genuine cause for optimism. Individuals from both left of center and right of center – primarily conservative libertarians and progressive greens – have been gradually developing a new narrative that can lift the body politic out of the box of our current dysfunction. By examining assumptions, comparing notes, sharing information and learning together, these two factions are calling forth a new political order that serves both the individual and the community, and honors ecology and economy.
By sitting in “council,” by airing all opinions and exhausting all positions, these groups have come to an obvious truth: No political savior will be coming down from the heavens to make everything right. We are left with the wisdom and resources of “we the people.” We have met the savior, and he / she is us. Moreover, the solutions don’t lie in the positions we find ourselves in but rather in a process that uses the energy of strongly held values inside a sacred circle to create emergent solutions that everyone in the group “owns” as opposed to unsatisfying compromise where each side loses something.
The American Evolution
In coming together from such different experiences and worldviews, Joseph and I have a remarkably similar take on America’s past, our present and our future. While neither of us buy into the “American exceptionalism” that keeps us blind to our own shadow, we both deeply appreciate the practical spirituality behind the founding of this country. What other country in the world was created on the notion of inalienable rights to life, liberty and happiness – where the formulators weren’t just blowing gas, but meant it? And where else – particularly 235 years ago – did a band of extraordinary ordinary citizens stand up to the largest multinational corporation in the world, the British East India Company, and defeat the British army and navy? Finally, and most importantly, what nation prior to then proclaimed that the citizen had the same sovereign rights as the king?
Joseph and I also share a similar view of the present. The bipolar insanity – encouraged and cultivated by those who benefit from a divided body politic – has weakened us locally and globally. Instead of focusing on finding outside the box solutions together, we tend to gather in the safe harbor of being right – or left. While we might find comfort in positions and stands, there is no movement possible if everyone stays in their position. There are those who appreciate the “stalemate” as the ultimate balance of power, making sure things don’t teeter this way or totter that. However, if the problem is the proverbial house on fire, inactivity is not an option.
In regard to the future, Joseph and I have once again reached a similar conclusion. We must integrate the most functional elements of progressivism (growth) and conservatism (protection) into a whole-brained, full spectrum politics where citizens from all across the political landscape come together to address the questions, “How do we wish to progress?” and “What do we choose to conserve?”
Is this possible?
Well, as Joseph has more than demonstrated in his transpartisan groups and meet-ups, when ordinary citizens are temporarily liberated from media “babblum,” and are held in a sacred circle of mutual respect, extraordinary clarity and wisdom emerges.
However, to access this wisdom requires … (ready, all you Creationists?) … evolution! We must evolve from children of God to adults of God (or, for the non-religious, adults of Good) and stop acting like “tenants” of America and begin to act like “owners.” This means facing the uncomfortable truths behind the real don’t ask, don’t tell policy (we promise not to ask the government what it is doing to “protect” us, and they promise not to tell us), and disabusing ourselves of the wishful thinking that our rulers will rule wisely without our involvement. As Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
And here is another fundamental principle Joseph and I agree on. Just as there is no top down political savior, transformation involves a “critical mass of the heretofore uncritical masses” waking up to the realization that there can be no integrity at the top without integrity at the bottom. The political evolution we seek is first a spiritual and psychological evolution, as we reconnect with our own internal Source and acknowledge and face our own individual and collective shadow with courage and compassion.
The Possible Dream
Those who mistook hopium for hope last time around may be understandably defended against being fooled again. So let us acknowledge that we WILL be fooled again by the two major party candidates. We can plan on it, in fact. When push comes to shove in 2012, we will be leveraged to hunker down with whichever cultural tribe we feel most affinity for, and once again Lucy will pull the proverbial football away and we the people (Charlie Brown) will fall on our collective ass.
We will once again fall prey to political lies unless …
Unless we expose the current political game and refuse to play it, AND gather around a higher, deeper and more enduring truth. The one unifying issue that both progressives and Tea Partiers agree on is, the rule of gold has overruled the Golden Rule. In order to establish this “One Suggestion” as the true heart and soul of who we are, we have to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate the coherent field of love that “undertruths” both the religious expressions of God and the non-religious expressions of Good.
As the Swami would say, “the upwising is gathering esteem,” and the chutzpah of those in power has become so obvious to so many that a mass awakening seems to be occurring. While there are those who would like to misdirect this anger against the wrong targets, there are enough people awakening on both sides to actually change the game this time around. Thanks to information and activism, both on the internet and the outernet, we now have the power to gather ordinary people together to access extraordinary wisdom – and coalesce a heartful, soulful moral authority that will be so universally obvious that it will effectively encircle the mechanism of government. When 80 percent of the people favor a principle or policy – and everyone knows it – that will effectively check the power of lobbyists lobbying against it.
And so that is why Joseph McCormick and I — coming from “opposite sides” — are seeing from the same angle. Only by uniting around commonly-held virtues and values can we muster the moral authority to “overgrow” the abuses of the corporate state. We’ll give Swami Beyondananda the final word, as he calls on Americans from across the political spectrum to “gather under one big intent”: “It’s time for left and right to come front and center, to face the music and dance together, and create government of, by and for the people where the government does OUR bidding, not the bidding of the highest bidder.”