Tyranny So Subtle, So Vile, So Shrewd, has Rarely if Ever Existed Before.
And what will love now say?
Just as the body has an immune system, so does a society. Just as cells awaken to the need to heal an injured body, so do citizens awaken to the need to heal an injured nation. No one had to tell anyone in New York City after the attacks of 9/11 to show up to volunteer, to give blood, to help victims in any way they could. There is a deep instinctive yearning in all of us to create the good and repair the broken.
A couple of years ago I was on an airplane when, just as it was gaining altitude after take-off, a huge sound came from the front of the plane as the first class flight attendant’s food cabinet flew open. Food trays and drinks came running down the aisle, and what happened next was interesting. The hands of everyone sitting in the aisle seats just went to work, almost as though they were separate from the bodies they belonged to. The aisle was like a a sea of hands working together as though some orchestrated intelligence. Belonging to people who couldn’t even see each other, one hand would pick up a can, pass it to someone else, join with another to pick up a a tray, all in a smooth operation with no conversation whatsoever. Our hands literally seemed to have a mind of their own. No one messes around when there’s a challenge on an airplane. If there’s a job to do you do it, and you find out how powerful you are just by simply showing up to do it.
No one should mess around when it comes to defending our democracy, our planet, or our species either. The same biological intelligence at work in the physical immune system, the same emotional intelligence at work when responders came to the aid of victims after 9/11, and the same group intelligence at work on the airplane that day are available to us now should we choose to use them. We’re going through a difficult time now, and our salvation lies in the arousal of a group intelligence.
The same dynamics at work in the life of one person prevail in the life of a nation because a nation is simply a collection of people. That’s why those who understand the deeper principles of personal transformation are the last people who should be sitting out the great economic, social and political questions of our day; those who have a clue as to what changes one heart have the most to say about what could change the world. Why? Because all external events are at their core internal issues. It’s how we think about politics, and how we think about economics, and how we think about society, that ultimately determines what unfolds within all of them.
Psychologists and philosophers have more insight into whats going on in America today than do traditional political strategists. And in many cases, they know more about what to do about it.
Recently I saw Condoleeza Rice, President George W. Bush’s national Security Advisor and Secretary of State, on The View. She was adamant that we needed to just move on to other subjects and not harp on the events of January 6, repeatedly saying she understand these things because “I’m a political scientist!” She must have said it three times. I sat there gobsmacked that someone who basically presided over the Iraq War - one of the most criminal disasters in American military history - was presuming to tell us what should happen now… and because she’s a political scientist! Then both Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg asked her with total seriousness whether she could see herself coming back to Washington.
That, ladies and gentleman, is why we are where we are. We keep repeating what we’ve always done for no other reason than that it’s how we’ve done it. We think that those who drove us right up to the cliff are somehow the ones we need now to lead us away from it. Our attachment to an old way of thinking is the deepest cause of our dangerous trajectory, and the deepest obstruction to forging a new one.
Currently, society’s councils of the wise - philosophers, spiritual teachers and clergy, psychologists, healers, indigenous voices, artists, and simply those who follow the guidance of common sense - are peripheralized voices in politics, marginalized by those who think of themselves as the political intelligentsia of our age.
Notice, however, where such an intelligentsia has led us.
A set of political calculations completely devoid of heart or soul - call it “political science” or anything else - got us to where we are today. And it cannot be overestimated what a perilous course we are on. Our ecosystem is imperiled. Our democracy is imperiled. Our health is imperiled. The future of humanity is imperiled, if we do not change course and do so quickly.
What is going on in our country is not just a political crisis; it is a moral and a spiritual crisis. The times cry out for new thinking more than for anything else. Humanity is challenged to move on to the next stage of our evolution and we’re not sure how to get there; some, in fact, don’t even seem sure that they want to! Many seem more afraid of the unknown future should we make a break from the past than of the predictable horrors that await us should we not.
An amoral economic system for all intents and purposes now governs the world, and an amoral system inevitably leads to immoral results. Market forces have replaced democracy as our country’s organizing principle, and already this has led to devastating results. The needs of humanity are crushed beneath the wheels of a heartless unfettered capitalism, a system now empowered and emboldened by the very forces that exist theoretically to restrain it.
This monster will not be defeated by traditional politics. It will be treated by the power of human consciousness, enough of us having cast off the shackles of relentless propaganda that has made us conspire so tragically in our own destruction. Tyranny so subtle, so vile, so shrewd, has rarely if ever existed before. But a sophisticated liar is still a liar, and lies are not true. We are not just here to accumulate things. We are not here to fight each other, compete with each other, dominate each other, or kill each other.
We are here to love each other
What will not create a new and beautiful world through more data or technology; we will create a new and more beautiful world through more courage and love. The power of our hearts is the power that will set us free, not the powers of the world. We must harness our worldly powers in the service of love or those powers will destroy us. Indeed, at this point we must stop them. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”
Where the world goes now is up to each of us. Each of us is one of the immune cells within a very sick social system. And each of us carry within ourselves the medicine that will make us whole. None of us live accidental lives. The people we know, the people we love, the things we do, the places we love - none of it is random, all of it is meaningful, and all it is the perfect invitation to become the people we need to become and do the things we need to do to disrupt the pattern of humanity’s suicidal march.
We have so much more power than we think we have; sometimes we simply don’t realize it until we’re in emergency situations. Like those on the plane who knew that on a plane you simply don’t mess around, we’re aroused by events to show up in ways we haven’t shown up before. We don’t have to figure out what to do right now, so much as ask ourselves, “Am I willing to show up?” When enough of us have answered yes, the monster will start quaking. The monster has never doubted our power, should we choose to use it. Only we have.
Faith is not blind, it is visionary. It activates cells, synapses, energies that had previously laid dormant.There is a power in each of us that can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Moving mountains is small compared to what we can do, and miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. These are words of power and grace that infuse all the great spiritual traditions of the world.
They are also the realizations that will defeat the monster, and the powers that will save the world. The laws of nature know how to organize themselves; how to get humanity out of the trap that we have laid for ourselves. Thus, our alignment with the laws of nature is now the key to our own salvation. In A Course in Miracles, it says “God will outwit your self-hatred.” Dear God, please do so. Game on.