Dennis Kucinich's keynote address at Praxis Peace Institute's Dubrovnik Conference on the Alchemy of Peacebuilding entitled, Spirit and Stardust, was given on Sunday, June 9, 2002, but speaks to us, even now.
My daughter was there, and called me afterwards to excitedly tell me, "Mom, guess what I found here in Croatia? An American politician with a soul! I was the representative sent by the youth division to have dinner with him. He is a Democrat from Ohio, and he gave this awesome speech at the conference! He's into peace and stuff, you know, Mom, like back in the 60's-- you'd love it! Look him up, Mom."
I did and a year later I sat front row, center, in Taft High School auditorium, Woodland Hills, CA, my first opportunity to hear Kucinich live. She was right. I found myself inspired by politics for the first time in decades, hopeful and mesmerized by his dreams for America.
He's ethical, he's compassionate, he's visionary. Ahead of his time, but now even the WaPo is saying that folks are finally catching up to his vision. After eight terms in the House of Representatives, he was gerrymandered out in 2013. A former mayor of Cleveland, he is currently running for governor of Ohio, with running mate, Tara Samples.
Dennis' inspiring speech from 16 years ago seems quite timely in this moment:
Spirit and Stardust
As one studies the images of the Eagle Nebula, brought back by the Hubble Telescope from that place in deep space where stars are born, one can imagine the interplay of cosmic forces across space and time, of matter and spirit dancing to the music of the spheres, atop an infinite sea of numbers.
Spirit merges with matter to sanctify the universe. Matter transcends to return to spirit. The interchangeability of matter and spirit means the starlit magic of the outermost life of our universe becomes the soul-light magic of the innermost life of our self. The energy of the stars becomes us. We become the energy of the stars. Stardust and spirit unite and we begin: One with the universe. Whole and holy. From one source, endless creative energy, bursting forth, kinetic, elemental. We, the earth, air, water and fire-source of nearly fifteen billion years of cosmic spiraling.
We begin as a perfect union of matter and spirit. We receive the blessings of the Eternal from sky and earth. In our outstretched hands we can feel the energy of the universe. We receive the blessings of the Eternal from water, which nourishes and sanctifies life. We receive the blessings of the Eternal from the primal fire, the pulsating heart of creation. We experience the wonder of life multidimensional and transcendent. We extend our hands upwards and we are showered with abundance. We ask and we receive. A universe of plenty flows to us, through us. It is in us. We become filled with endless possibilities.
We need to remember where we came from; to know that we are one. To understand that we are of an undivided whole: race, color, nationality, creed, gender are beams of light, refracted through one great prism. We begin as perfect and journey through life to become more perfect in the singularity of "I" and in the multiplicity of "we"; a more perfect union of matter and spirit. This is human striving. This is where, in Shelley's words, " . . . hope creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates." This is what Browning spoke of: Our 'reach exceeding [our] grasp.' This is a search for heaven within, a quest for our eternal home.
In our soul's Magnificat, we become conscious of the cosmos within us. We hear the music of peace, we hear the music of cooperation, we hear music of love. We hear harmony, a celestial symphony. In our soul's forgetting, we become unconscious of our cosmic birthright, plighted with disharmony, disunity, torn asunder from the stars in a disaster well-described by Matthew Arnold in Dover Beach: " . . . the world, which seems to lie before us like a land of dreams, so various, so beautiful, so new, hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude nor peace, nor help for pain. And we are here, as on a darkling plain, swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, where ignorant armies clash by night."
Today Dover Beach is upon the shores of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. Our leaders think the unthinkable and speak of the unspeakable inevitability of nuclear war; of a nuclear attack on New York City, of terrorist attacks throughout our nation; of war against Iraq using nuclear weapons; of biological and chemical weapon attacks on civilian populations; of catastrophic global climate change; of war in outer space.- Advertisement -
When death (not life) becomes inevitable, we are presented with an opportunity for great clarity, for a great awakening, to rescue the human spirit from the arms of Morpheus through love, through compassion and through integrating spiritual vision and active citizenship to restore peace to our world. The moment that one world is about to end, a new world is about to begin. We need to remember where we came from. Because the path home is also the way to the future.
In the city I represent in the United States Congress, there is a memorial to Peace, named by its sculptor, Marshall A. Fredericks the "Fountain of Eternal Life." A figure rises from the flames, his gaze fixed to the stars, his hands positioned sextant-like, as if measuring the distance. Though flames of war from the millions of hearts and the dozens of places wherein it rages, may lick at our consciousness, our gaze must be fixed upward to invoke universal principles of unity, of co-operation, of compassion, to infuse our world with peace, to ask for the active presence of peace, to expand our capacity to receive it and to express it in our everyday life. We must do this fearlessly and courageously and not breathe in the poison gas of terror. As we receive, so shall we give.
As citizen-diplomats of the world, we send peace as conscious expression where ever, whenever and to whomever it is needed: to the Middle East, to the Israelis and the Palestinians, to the Pakistanis and the Indians, to Americans and Al Queda, and to the people of Iraq, and to all those locked in deadly combat. And we fly to be with the bereft, with those on the brink, to listen compassionately, setting aside judgment and malice to become peacemakers, to intervene, to mediate, to bring ourselves back from the abyss, to bind up the world's wounds.