I am now more optimistic than I have been in a very long time that we are on track to resolve that immediate crisis successfully. If President Obama can continue to lead in the way that he did during the just-finished campaign, and that he has since the election, he and his Democratic allies (including us) might well be able to go a long way toward exorcising that "sick and broken spirit" that has lately taken over the political right in this country.
But this crisis has revealed some serious vulnerabilities even in the more constructive and decent parts of our civilization. And I'm now embarking on a new mission that, by addressing some of those vulnerabilities, will work to strengthen our long-term efforts to create a better America and better world.
It is troubling, for example, how many Americans --even on our side of the divide-- have been slow to see, or have failed to see at all, the extraordinarily dark nature of the force that has arisen on the political right. Never before, I would argue, has so destructive and dishonest force ever reached center stage of American politics as the one that's taken possession of today's Republican Party.
It is troubling, too, that whenever our artists depict the future of our civilization, in films or fiction, those imagined futures are bleak, or chaotic, or soulless. It can say nothing good about where we are as a nation, as a civilization, as a species that the kinds of future we seem able to imagine are so unappealing.
This lack of positive vision is a sign, I believe, of our intuitive sense that we are not in control of our destiny. I see a way to address this dimness of vision.
This project fits squarely with what I've done over the past more-than-forty years. My whole adult life, I've felt continually drawn to look at the big picture and discern the forces, unleashed by the dynamics of our systems, that shape our destiny often in harmful and destructive ways, and to try to devise ways to allow wise human choice to prevail.
In this new project, I am aiming to put it all together in a vision that I hope will combine intellectual clarity with spiritual aliveness and moral passion.
Ideas can move history. The American Revolution and its resultant constitutional government were the fruit of ideas that took generations, and much hard-lived historical experience. Today's world seems sorely in need of a vision, or ideology, that can inspire and empower people to fortify the power of goodness in its contest with the kind of destructive forces that have become so disturbingly visible in our country.
Yes, this is an ambitious project. To acknowledge that ambitiousness, for now I'm calling this project "Swinging for the Fences."
The chances of my hitting the full home run are admittedly a long shot. But I'm confident we can at least get on base with a clean single or stand-up double. And who knows? Sometimes the long shot comes in!
I'm already beginning to construct -- in public -- this ambitious edifice of ideas and vision. On my campaign Facebook page, I'm starting to post small pieces of this Big Picture and to begin to put them together. As time goes on, these will be refined and ordered into finished works designed to have an impact on the world.
Here are some of the ways you can help?