By Tim Duff, Tonka Bay, Minnesota
The domestic political fantasy life of the last seventeen years finds us in an unnerving time loop of our own making in this country. Very much on its own, history seems to be running in reverse and knowledge is not seen as a public good, but as something suspect, dubious or even ungodly, as it was for example in Italy in 1633, when the church put Galileo on trial for his heretical view that the earth was in orbit around the sun.
These past years have produced a prison house of the mind, insidiously endeavoring to promote a fleeting, fraudulent terrorist phantom and the darkness of ego. It has produced the degradation of the thinking mind, all of it in fear of what it knows. Our society has mentally transported the rank and file back into the darkness of tribal war and shrieking, far from the tolerance that came with American religious freedom and the liberty of our conscience.
What is good as opposed to evil? Does it mean the evil of specific terrorist organizations, or the evils of the political cultures from which they came about?
Our civil discourse has morphed into a "civil disguise," something akin to, "I have a great future behind me." People have been restored to passive apathy, while the intellectual language of righteous empire cravenly moves on. Life becomes a constant paradox and the best illusion wins, because we have been taught a lesson-less past, while everywhere we look today we see the price of unchecked power.
Our renewed civil and spiritual discourse must adhere to three basic principles: 1. Facts matter, even if we don't like them. 2. Universal moral principles matter, even if they have consequences we would prefer not to face. 3. Clarity matters, such as distinguishing between terror and the political culture that breeds it, and what lies uneasily at its borders; aggression and legitimate response to it.
Humans have learned to spit the atom and instead of killing ten or twenty people with a wooden club, now can kill a million people by pushing a button. Are we to call that real change? The pollution of our planet is an outward reflection of our inner psychic pollution. Millions of unconscious people do not take responsibility for how their inner mind works.
According to St. Paul, the whole of creation is waiting to become enlightened. For, if mental development and increased knowledge are not counter- balanced by a corresponding growth in consciousness, the probability for unhappiness and disaster is very great.
In the beginning, the patriot is a scarce man, brave, but hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds however the timid join him, because then it costs nothing to be a patriot. The first rule of any group mind and its dynamics is that it cannot adopt itself as an object of critical reflection.
To take the long view, American politics may be seen as the struggle between the idealistic secular democracy of a self-renewing America and our great resident capacity to be in denial of what is intellectually and morally incumbent upon us to pursue.
There would be no tyranny and no wars if men did not ignore their conscience. Wealthy people are in large measure as ungrounded in the reality of their political beliefs as they are grounded in the reality of their fortunate financial condition. It is an opulent reality that shapes their belief system. Their brains have been become calcified by intolerance and indifference, and they are unable to see beyond their own bias. They are involved in the "lucre fest" and in most cases their healthy pay checks and dividend distributions, demands holding the selfish positions that they do. When will the burden of their self-deception and their self-deceit become too great a burden for them to live with?
It seems today that we are to complain no louder than with muted regret and be just another part of a maniacal system of learned helplessness, as opposed to the enlightenment of learned empowerment. Not to know what has been transacted in former times is to be always a child. If no use is made of the labors of the past, the world must remain in the infancy of knowledge.
For our society to temporize human affairs, to look not up for some divinely applied celestial accreditation, but forward at ground level, in the endless journey to resist any authoritarian restrictions on thought or suppression of knowledge that is the public good, and it remains the essence of our civic religion.
As William Parsons said in his book, Merchant of Probity, "We all must be individuals with minds to improve, hearts to cultivate and a character to form." We need men and women of infinite consciousness not rigid fundamentalists. We must move from ill knowledge to sublime understanding.
The cross of Jesus at Calvary was a symbol of persecution, of someone working for all the poor, until King Constantine in 321 AD put the cross on the shield of the Roman Empire as a strategy to further messianic empire building.
Our spirituality has to lead to political choices, otherwise our spirituality and faith encourages fatalism on the part of the poor, having only the promise of better hereafter. We must stand in awe of the burden the poor have to carry instead of standing in judgment of how they carry it. We must always stand within the circle of compassion. A politically committed spirituality contends against wrong without becoming contentious. It confronts national self-interest and righteousness without self-righteousness. Yet, today when we give food to the poor, they call us saintly, but when we ask why the poor have no food, they brand us as socialists or communists.