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by David Truman

Political action

Spiritual action

Averting disaster, creating peace

War and peace are on the minds of most of our fellow Americans, and many of our brothers and sisters across the globe, today. The headstrong actions of President Bush in moving toward war currently threaten the lives and well-being of millions of innocent people. It seems incumbent on all people of higher sensibilities to do what we can to avert -- or at least speak out against -- this imminent disaster.

Political action

What CAN we do? Can we control our leadership? Even our best in the way of political action may be ineffective. And YET, at times like these, conscience won't let us sit passively by while world events unfold.

While political action does not always succeed, it has occasionally produced stunning victories. The Vietnam movement did not prevent a war, but it finally forced the U.S. to abandon the war, as anti-war sentiment spread from the student movement to a mass movement, and ultimately influenced the ruling elite. The Civil Rights movement, hopeless as it seemed at the start, finally did "overcome." At least it won for black Americans the right to vote and greater access to education. Accomplishments such as those give us at least some hope that we might make a difference.

Just as citizens should take responsibility to vote, we should do our part to contribute to the collective control of our political leaders with demonstrations, letters to the editor, letters to elected officials, and the like. In these ways, we also contribute our voices to world opinion, and our support and affirmation to the higher sensibilities of others.

But needless to say, we cannot afford to put ALL our eggs in the basket of political action. Its outcome is uncertain, and its upside potential limited. Purely political remedies are short-term and symptomatic, at best. In politics, we do our best to optimize circumstances, and whether we like it or not, that IS the best we CAN do. Even a member of Congress, a person who has devoted his or her whole life to public service, may not be able to do better than that.

The truth is, there is NO strictly political solution to the problems of humanity. Political solutions are necessary, and they are called for. But in the larger view, they still amount to micro-managing a larger and deeper problem that demands a larger and deeper cure. So, WHILE doing all you can do on the political front, don't stop there. DO dedicate your energy and attention to SPIRITUAL action as well. Spiritual action spiritualizes -- and thereby creates change at DEEPER levels.

Spiritual action

What is "spiritual action"? Let's start with what it is NOT: A spiritual action is NOT a REACTION to events -- an action compelled by irrational fear or blind hope. Spiritual action is a higher-mind RESPONSE to events, that transcends the time and place within which those events occur; it is an assertion of what is known to be eternally good and true, and a repudiation of what is forever wrong and false. Spiritual action takes PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for the factors in our hearts and minds that are entirely under our control, and that powerfully influence our lives and everyone around us.

Spiritual action may in fact be the secret power behind successful political action. Spiritual action no doubt played an unrecognized but essential role in the "political" successes of the Vietnam and Civil Rights movements. Thousands of people committed deeply to those causes and their values. Those movements could not have been as strong, as persistent, and as revolutionary as they were, based on political fervor alone. Gandhi's world-changing "non-violent resistance" movement was another obvious example of political success powered by spiritual action.

What would it mean to take spiritual action today? It would be to reject the entire mentality of attack and self-protection, not only in our leaders, but in ourselves. Our hawkish leaders, in their penchant for war, are misusing power terribly. But perhaps what is MOST terrible about it is, they are misusing power on a larger SCALE than the rest of us. Such misuse of power may be unique in DEGREE, but it is common in KIND. Each of us misuses our power similarly, on a smaller scale, in our own spheres -- with our friends, our mates, and people we encounter.

For example, every day, thousands of ordinary people get divorced, shattering the HOMES, if not the HOUSES, of thousands of children. What about this emotional carnage? These unfortunate children have seen ugliness created and defended LIVE, in their own living rooms. Are these children not casualties of war -- innocent victims of emotional conflict?

Most divorces result from distancing attitudes and unloving actions on the part of the spouses towards each other. But divorce is only one extreme example out of many we all experience, condone, take for granted, and participate in daily. To the extent that WE view others as alien, dangerous, and opposed to our own best interests, then we, like our fearful leaders, fail to recognize and maintain human affinity, commonality, and beauty. Likewise, to the extent that OUR personal actions are NOT missions of peace, then we are actually sowing seeds of negativity and discord wherever we go. And we, like ego-driven people everywhere, are declaring and fighting our own little wars, in much the same way as international wars are declared and fought. There may be matters of quality to fuss about, and of quantity. But qualitatively, whatever stinks, stinks.

Averting disaster, creating peace

It is one thing to avert disaster. It is another thing entirely to have love -- and to be in love. The first is merely a cause for relief; the second, a cause for hope and joy, and a basis for true and lasting peace.

For a larger, more substantial form of peace, WE, the human family -- and WE as individual members OF that family -- must grow peace in ourselves, and among ourselves -- humanly. WE must find and show the way. There is no true peace for humanity OTHER than the peace that can be found in the heart, and between hearts.

At the bottom line: We, the people, need hope. But NO ONE can have true hope on the basis of anything that is less than truly beautiful. It is only the humanity of humanity that gives hope to humankind. So WE must give cause for hope. WE must create the beauty that is the true basis for hope: love; humanity; charity; good will; feeling; energy. To the extent we create beauty in our lives, with our words and deeds, we WILL give hope, and there will INDEED be hope. To the extent that we do not, we would be fools to think, seriously, that our leaders will.

So: DO what is right and needful politically. CAST your vote, and MAKE your statement. And also . . . Give life to life. Bring love to life. And thereby, give life hope for peace on earth. REAL hope, for REAL peace.

by David Truman

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Doing Your Part for Peace:
Political Action, Spiritual Action
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