Today's major religions and spiritual disciplines such as Yoga and Zen lack officially expressed political preferences (PROUT, Ananda Marga Yoga's social-economic component, could be the one exception). Likewise, radical Leftists in the many varieties of communism, socialism, and anarchism lack an equal focus on individual spiritual growth; historically, some have lacked a focus on nonviolence as well. In short, a spiritual politics or a political spirituality is needed that considers the ecology of the planet and the specific needs of every nation of the world.
Two and a half years ago, I retired as an elementary-school teacher at the age of 60, in part to study some of things I did not quite master in high school and college. As I now study European, US, and world history, I am just amazed at the countless, stupid wars that have been fought because of greed, aggrandizement, and imperialism. Equally troubling to me is the fact that about half of the world-- over 3 billion people--live on less than $2.50 a day! http://www.globalissues.org/issue/2/causes-of-poverty . According to the Current Population Clock the world's population is 7,060,492,022. http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html
At different times in my life I became enamored, and then disillusioned, with evangelical Christianity, Buddhism, and Yoga philosophy. I now doubt if there is a literal Heaven and Hell, Reincarnation, or a Higher Self that is equal to God. However, I do believe there are health benefits to practicing hatha-yoga stretches and postures and in doing Insight Meditation, Transcendental Meditation, and other meditation methods that encourage calm, detached, objective, and nonjudgmental self-observation for a few minutes a day.
Academic education, however it is acquired, can create more intellectuals and philosophers in the world. Personally, I think the neighbors who live within the borders of a particular public school should be autonomous in the philosophy and curriculum they create: top-down federal, state, and township superintendent control should be eliminated. But equally important to academic education is the psychological adjustment, social, and spiritual growth of an individual.
During the last 2 years after my retirement, I worked part-time for a nonprofit organization for about 9 months. It disturbed me that about 5 individuals at the top of the organization of about 90 employees made 6 to 10 times the salaries of the other 95 workers who earned about or less than $10 an hour. The 5 individuals had health benefits; most of the other employees didn't. (I got information about my employer's top three executives' salaries through the website www.guidestar.org .)
Before she quit, I emailed the personnel director and asked her in a non-threatening way if the executive director, financial officer, and director of programs were 6 to 10 times smarter and more productive than the rest of us. The company also has a board of directors that meets in private: regular employees are not allowed to attend board meetings.
The personnel director, who also was one of the highly paid staff members, forwarded my email, which gave suggestions about how the company could be improved, to the director of programs. The director of programs later cordially thanked me for the suggestions I offered, such as allowing all employees to participate in the important decision-making of the company. But, alas, no semblance of workplace democracy resulted from my efforts. When I suggested to a few fellow employees that we should organize a union, they all were quite fearful that they might lose their jobs. The point I am making is that the organization where I worked was no different from other nonprofit agencies, and non-profit agencies are far more egalitarian than corporations for profit.
Some libertarians and other lovers of capitalism may argue that we have the freedom of working somewhere else if we do not like our current working conditions. But the corporate structure, working conditions, and pay are pretty much the same no matter where the average person applies for a job. The problem is systemic.
Fundamentalist and evangelical Christians believe that after the Fall of Man in the literal Garden of Eden, human nature became naturally selfish and sinful. According to many ancient religions, there had to be blood sacrifices to appease their gods. Similarly, Jesus dying on the cross has been considered the ultimate, complete sacrifice once and for all, so that people's sins can be forgiven if they take Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
But very little is mentioned about Jesus in the secular writings of the times, and the Epistles of Paul were written before the four gospels; the gospels were written between 30 to 70 years after the death of Jesus, enough time to embellish the stories heard by hearsay. None of the gospel authors were considered to be actual eyewitnesses of Jesus' life, as commonly believed, according to liberal theologians.
Comparing archeological findings with the stories of the Bible shows that the Old and New Testament teachings gradually changed as the social and political conditions changed. Today we have over 2,000 different Christian denominations, each believing that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, instead of a collection of man-made books. But if there is an all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful God, wouldn't He make his presence more obvious today, as He allegedly did during Biblical periods?
I laugh when I remember once watching a TV evangelist cuff his hand over his ear and nod his head as he got a direct message from God! It is hard to expect people to be environmental stewards when so many are waiting for the Rapture to take place at any moment.
The study of present and past primitive societies has shown that there was less emphasis on private property and more emphasis on equal sharing. There is thus more egalitarianism--an equality of results, not today's proverbial "equal opportunity." In primitive cultures, there is not an entrenched system of hierarchy and dominance, as you find in today's military, government, schools, business corporations, and church denominations.
If "the love of money is the root of all evil," as expressed in I Timothy 6:10, then it may be that the entrenchment of all forms of hierarchy, patriarchy, and dominance in society has led to the pervasive ecological destruction and human dominance of the planet. (Examine the Institute of Social Ecology's website www.social-ecology.org "Left Green Perspectives #38 by Murray Bookchin to learn about the development of hierarchy).
Some historians may argue that for "civilization" to develop, it was necessary to have centralization of power with its concomitant bureaucratic chains of command from the top-down. If that be the case, and I am not sure it had to develop that way, I think we can argue that it is still possible to create a government built and empowered from the bottom-up instead--from the neighborhood block club, to the precinct, to the township, to the county, and finally to a state governing body that could replace the current state senators and representatives in each of the 50 states. Each township, county, and state legislative body could then elect or appoint executive and judicial branch officials as needed.
Representatives at higher levels of legislative government could be removed if any particular lower legislative body, from which the representative at a higher level ascended, decided to remove him or her with a majority vote.