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Life Arts    H2'ed 6/25/19

What You Should Know About Marianne Williamson Before Thursday's Debate

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Next Thursday, the country at large will be introduced to Marianne Williamson as presidential candidate. For many however, she needs no introduction. Millions know her as their spiritual guide. She has written 14 books with four of them ending up as #1 best-sellers.

Nonetheless, that fame and popularity doesn't appear in polls. And that's not merely because her name is often excluded from such surveys. It's also because her constituents are not regular Democrats who vote in every primary. As such, they're typically not called by pollsters.

But anyone who has read her books or who watches her weekly lectures from New York City's Marble Collegiate Church knows of the devotion and energy of Marianne's followers. In fact, she has more of them on-line than nearly every one of her opponents. Those millions can be easily mobilized on her behalf.

So, who is this woman and how is she different from the other twenty Democratic candidates we'll see in the debates?

Based on my study of her two specifically political books (Healing the Soul of America and A Politics of Love), along with attendance at her lectures and a three-day seminar, personal interviews, and especially considering her own guiding light, Helen Schucman's A Course in Miracles, let me share with you what I think viewers should know about Marianne Williamson before next Thursday's debate. For me, the following seems to encapsulate her basic vision and platform:

  • We are living imprisoned in something very like Plato's Cave. What's happening in "the news" is nothing more than shadow-play. It's all kabuki theater. It has no reality.
  • The truth is 180 degrees opposite of what the talking heads tell us there. Our attitude to the news and statements of our politicians should be like that of Russians to the official line articulated in Pravda (Truth!) before the collapse of the USSR: if they say "black," think "white." If they say "peace," think "war." If they say "good," think "bad."
  • Child welfare should be the center of any serious long-range economic planning. There should be a cabinet-level Secretary of Children and Youth whose purpose would be to transform childhood experience in the United States. All U.S. schools should be "palaces of learning and joy;" libraries should be "temples of arts and literacy."
  • Reparations for enslavement of African Americans is another imperative. Williamson writes, "If you steal a lot of money from someone -- and more than two hundred years of unpaid labor certainly amounts to a lot of it -- then you owe them more than an apology. You owe them money."
  • There is no new immigration crisis; immigrants are not the cause of our problems.
  • Borders are absolutely human-constructs; they are ever-changing and fluid.
  • In fact, the earth belongs to everyone. No one can really "own" any of it. We're all just travelers passing through. We can't -- we won't -- take any of it with us.
  • Every human is our sister or brother regardless of where they live or are from.
  • What we do to others, we do to ourselves.
  • No one at this moment is aggressing against the United States in any way that is not linked to U.S. policy that aggressed against them first.
  • In fact, we have no real enemies. Neither Russians, Chinese, Iranians, Iraqis, Libyans, Ethiopians, Syrians, Palestinians, North Koreans, Cubans, Nicaraguans, or any other nation on the face of the earth is our enemy.
  • Yes, there are differences between the countries just mentioned and our own. But that's entirely normal. Differences between people do not make them enemies. It makes them human and interesting.
  • Wars mostly issue from the vested interests of the military-industrial complex. The disappearance of global conflict would actually be bad news in terms of those interests for which war is highly profitable and welcome.
  • Similarly, the disappearance of hunger and poverty would also be bad news for multinational companies like General Foods and Ralston Purina. Their profits depend on the maintenance of such disasters.
  • War, hunger and poverty are symptoms of a fundamentally flawed economic system that creates and justifies excessive wealth on the one hand and extreme poverty, starvation, thirst and homelessness on the other.
  • No person or system has a right to deprive anyone else of food, water, shelter, clothing or life.
  • So, it's not right for billionaires to exist in a world where millions are starving.
  • Especially, no one has a right to deny climate change whose processes will deprive the rest of us our grandchildren, and untold billions of creatures of life itself.
  • Those who do so are committing a grievous crime against humanity and should be put in jail or into re-education programs.

Such positions focused on children, historical injustices, the poor, peace, climate change and income redistribution clearly make Marianne Williamson a populist in the best sense of the word.

Recently, on "The View," Meghan McCain took note of that and compared Marianne to Donald Trump. Williamson's response made it clear that, like Bernie Sanders, she embraces populism, but in a way quite different from Mr. Trump. Both Trump and Sanders, she acknowledges, were right in pointing out Washington corruption and the need to address Main Street's concerns. However, once in office, Trump did nothing about draining the swamp he correctly identified. Instead he cozied up to vested interested and filled his administration with officers from Goldman Sachs and other firms that as a campaigner he had railed against. Marianne's 40-year consistency in maintaining positions like those just outlined show she's not an inveterate liar like Mr. Trump. She will follow through on her promises.

On the same telecast, Whoopi Goldberg observed correctly that Marianne's program with its concern for children, their education and the poor in general is not at all unique. "Think about Head Start under Lyndon Johnson," she said.

Of course, Goldberg was actually referring to FDR's New Deal with its Social Security, minimum wage, unemployment insurance, and vast government jobs programs. Lyndon Johnson's Great Society initiatives with programs like Head Start built on Roosevelt's work. However, Williamson replied, the last 40 years have seen Republicans intentionally dismantle FDR's programs in favor of socialism for the rich that has included huge tax breaks, government subsidies (e.g. $26 billion annually to fossil fuel companies), and massive bail-outs after the recipients had crashed the economy in 2008. Marianne is convinced that the gains of the New Deal and Great Society must be restored. That's why she has pledged to fight for the Green New Deal and is fully supportive of TYT's Progressive Pledge.

It should be noted that in holding the convictions and offering the policy proposals just summarized, Marianne Williamson is not an outlier. She is not at all unrealistic or naïve. She's not some Bible-thumper or New Age fluff merchant.

Instead, her voice for justice joins with those of human civilization's giants including the most acclaimed spiritual leaders everyone professes to admire. Among them are the Buddha, the Jewish prophets, Jesus the Christ, Mohammed, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Dali Lama and Pope Francis. In their ranks as well are Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Noam Chomsky, and Howard Zinn, abolitionists like Sojourner Truth, and women suffragists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These are the serious and absolutely profound traditions in which Marianne Williamson stands.

It's no wonder, then, that she has all those millions of followers already mobilized on her behalf.

 

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Mike Rivage-Seul is a liberation theologian and former Roman Catholic priest. Retired in 2014, he taught at Berea College in Kentucky for 40 years where he directed Berea's Peace and Social Justice Studies Program. His latest book is "The Magic (more...)
 

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