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AN INVINCIBLE SUMMER
Why we persevere
Having had a long career articulating universal spiritual principles in my writing and lecturing, I have seen the transformational power of knowing that no matter what happens, love will always get the final say. From Israelites arriving at the Promised Land to the resurrection of Jesus, religious traditions carry the common theme that after even the deepest darkest night there is always the dawning of a new day.
Running for President, I have been challenged to find a way to express that same idea in secular terms. I’m from a religious minority myself, after all. I know how important it is to keep our political conversations secular, in order to respect the plurality of faiths - and non-faith - that make up the American electorate.
Religion and spirituality are two different things, however. In the words of President John F. Kennedy, “We cannot afford to be materially rich but spiritually poor.”
I want to inspire faith that better times are possible. But such faith isn’t invoked with cheap and easy cliches so often uttered by politicians, such as “our best days are still ahead of us.” In truth, maybe they are, and maybe they aren’t. I want to inspire hope born not of platitudes but of possibility - a feeling that something deep inside us, at the very core of things, is always bending in the direction of the good.
That sentiment, spoken in a secular but profoundly spiritual way, lies in this well known quote from French existentialist philosopher Albert Camus: “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there's something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”
How beautifully that quote expresses the idea that there is, within all of us, the capacity for regeneration and repair. How desperately we need to collectively believe that now. Even among the happiest people, I find a sadness about America today. In the words of a woman I was talking to last week, “Our country has gone awry.” She is a State Representative, and told me she spends most of her time trying to push back against genuinely antidemocratic efforts in her Statehouse. Rather than being able to spend her time making people’s lives better, she’s constantly having to push back against people who are actually trying to make things worse for them. People who are actually elected representatives of the people…. are trying to limit the rights of the people.
Such are the times in which we live.
But as I say so often, we have had tough times before. We cannot allow ourselves to forget that, nor the fact that historically our ancestors have responded to tough times in glorious ways. From abolition to Women’s Suffrage, from organized labor to the Civil Rights movement, as a nation we have never failed to ultimately push back against oppressive forces in our midst.
It is simply our turn now.
I am running for president to provide a different option than the ones presented by a sclerotic, covertly corrupt status quo. I reject the notion that only those who have spent years working within a system that drove us into a ditch, should be considered qualified to lead us out of it. Such people’s qualification is that they know how to perpetuate that system; the most important qualification for our next president is that she know how to disrupt it.
How? By doing what I am doing now. By saying the quiet parts out loud, by pointing to the elephant we all know is sitting in the middle of the living room, by speaking common sense to a vast gaslit nation. No, the “practical issues” of politics are not what matter most today. Our problem is not that we don’t have enough political car mechanics; our problem is that we’re on the wrong road. We don’t lack technicians; we lack vision.
I read an article about myself years ago in which someone said something that made me laugh but that I felt was true: “Marianne Williamson isn’t saying anything everybody else isn’t saying - she’s just saying it when the mic is on.” I feel that’s as true of my career today. It’s not like I’m saying anything that people don’t already know. But that’s the point! The continuance of our current political system depends on our consistently denying what we know. It wants us to pretend that what we know in our hearts isn’t true, or isn’t important. And thus we lose faith that we know much of anything at all.
President Biden, for instance, is telling us that the economy is doing well. And for twenty percent of us, it is! But that twenty percent are living on an island surrounded by a huge sea of economic despair. “Let’s finish the job” is a weak argument for someone who is living paycheck to paycheck, uninsured or underinsured, unable to absorb a $400 unexpected expenditure, or even find a place to live. And that means many, many millions of people. Americans know that in many ways, things are not doing well. And incremental change is not enough when people’s souls are bleeding. Our national spirit has been sapped. Our core principles have been frayed. Our sense of unity has been torn asunder. What we were always taught was a country that at least strived for equality of opportunity and justice, in so many ways seems to be giving up its own dream.
And people are feeling tired of it all. Sort of beaten down, with a chronic numbness - or anger or despair -that is now a feature and not a bug of the American experience. That is why we must remember: within us all, there is an invincible summer.
Regardless what we name it, it is there. It is that which animated the abolitionists, the Suffragists, early labor organizers, and Civil Rights workers. And I see it animating people today: from environmental activists to Cop City protestors to striking workers to political leaders trying to do the right thing. I see it in the women legislators - Republican, Democrat, and Independent - continuing to fight off rabid state legislators in South Carolina who (I kid you not) would have a woman who had had an abortion executed. I see it in librarians and teachers and parents standing up to forces that would ban books and suppress education throughout America. I see it in legislators passing laws to ban the book bans! I see it in my own staff and supporters, people standing for the possibility of something that an arrogant, elitist status quo is consistently telling us isn’t possible.
Faith in the possibility of infinite possibility makes us continue to persevere. And why? Because there is within us an invincible summer. And, like Camus, it makes me happy. “No matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there's something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”