TIKKUN is also an an international community of people of many faiths calling for social justice and political freedom in the context of new structures of work, caring communities, and democratic social and economic arrangements. We seek to influence public discourse in order to inspire compassion, generosity, non-violence and recognition of the spiritual dimensions of life.
What follows is my experience during this very week in July, but in 2005 at TIKKUN's first conference for Spiritual Progressives which I attended 3 weeks after my first 16 Days in Israel Palestine
Everything that follows actually happened-but as I was writing fiction in 2005-I wrote it all down in this chapter through the fictional character Jack Hunt of Keep HOPE ALIVE
"The Revolution starts now, when you rise above your fear and tear the walls round you down."-Steve Earle
On Wednesday, July 20, 2005, in Berkeley, California, Jack intuitively sensed opportunity blowing in the wind as he rounded the corner from Durant and Telegraph on his way to UC Berkeley's MLK student union building for TIKKUN's first annual conference on spiritual activism. As he crossed Bancroft Way, a young, beatifically-smiling latte-skinned youth handed him an electric green slip of paper announcing:
Jack mused, "Now that my third anti-inflammatory has been pulled, I can't do narcotics in moderation, and I am not ready for joint replacement; I wonder if maybe this is an invitation from You to move out here?"
Jack soon forgot all about the aches in his joints--in particular, his knees, which had been crushed in an auto accident when he was twenty-three and then again at twenty-six. The MLK student union building was jammed with people from all faiths, and those who were spiritual, but not religious, who were imagining a new bottom line for America and her true place in the global village. Jack glided up the stairs to the second floor and deeply inhaled the energy emanating from over thirteen hundred American citizens who had gathered in the Pauley Ballroom in support of a new bottom line based on love, compassion, caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity, and behavior; and motivated by generosity, kindness, cooperation, nonviolence, and peace.
Jack imagined a society that honored all human beings as embodiments of the sacred, a society that enhanced one's capacities to respond to the earth and the universe with awe, wonder, and radical amazement. He imagined the Kingdom of God, where men would turn their swords into plowshares and not make war anymore.
The invocation was offered by Father Louis Vitale, a Franciscan who reminded Jack of one of the least of the seven dwarfs, until he spoke and revealed himself to be a man of profound wisdom, enrobed in well-worn burlap:
"The Holy One has called on us. In all of earth's sixty-five-million-year history, we are living in the most dangerous of times. The fact that a bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and two hundred thousand lives were vaporized within twenty minutes has not prevented man from dreaming up more ways to fill space with weapons of mass destruction. We were not created for militarism, but to turn our swords into plowshares. We have arrived here today by no accident. We have been summoned by the universe to claim the highest common ground. As the Dali Lama said, the radicalism of our age is to be compassionate human beings. We have been called to bring love and compassion back into the equation and assist others to connect with the deepest parts of themselves. Now is the time to realize, as never before, that when any of us suffer, we all suffer. All life is interconnected, interdependent, and greatly loved by the creator, the sustainer of the universe. We are called by love, for love, and to love."
Professor Nagler, M.C. and scholar, stoked the fire of hope within Jack. "We are not facing a spiritual crisis, but a spiritual opportunity. We offer the power of moral ideas to a country with a lot of religion yet which suffers from a great lack of spirituality and imagination. As William Blake said, "Imagination is evidence of The Divine.' And spirituality is how we grow in sensitivity to ourselves, the other, and to God. Einstein wrote, "Human beings are limited in time and space. We experience ourselves in an optical delusion. We see ourselves as separate from others. Our task must be to free ourselves from our prison of self. Only through compassion can we begin to embrace all of Creation.' The bumper sticker got it right; we are spiritual beings having a human experience."
George Lakoff, the author of Don't Think of an Elephant, affirmed what Jack already knew, that a nurturing parent raises a child as best they can to be responsible to self and others. A nurturing parent is not permissive or overindulgent, but models cooperation and honesty, and understands that everything is grace, an unconditional gift from God that one is free to accept or reject. Lakoff spoke about God as father, mother, all-knowing, all-good, all powerful, and the source of the free gift of grace that will open one up to God in the world. Jack thought of Father Matthew Fox's recent publication, A New Reformation.
During Pentecost week, in 2005, Father Fox traveled to Wittenburg and nailed a new ninety-five theses to the church door, where Luther had nailed his five hundred years before. Father Fox wrote Jack's heart about an interfaith collaboration and community that intuits God as mother-father God of divine wisdom, and understands that the earth itself is to be tended; its health is just as much a moral imperative for us all as our human relationships. Jack had long ago rejected the concept of a punitive father God and understood that nature is God's primary temple, and war the greatest abomination.