Without a vision, the people will perish!
...So said a prophet ages ago... and that ancient insight provides a clue as to why we can't seem to really get moving as a nation any longer. Oh, I know, Republicans will respond with their well-rehearsed lines blaming "the government" and "too many taxes" -- and Democrats reply with their standard "we need shared sacrifice" and the government was created for "active leadership"... Isolated from both context and "reality", both sides might possess aspects of truth... but to be in possession of "aspects of truth" does not truthfully qualify anyone with the responsibility of leadership. This Congress has proven, beyond even a shadow of doubt, that this is true. Both sides have abandoned as a matter of philosophical principle a belief in the virtue of honest negotiation and compromise -- and so we the people are abandoned by our elected leaders.
"Without a vision, the people perish"... This is the crux of the matter. This nation has become a collection of special interests -- with no remaining interest in the "other". We have become a collection of competing "absolutes". "You either agree with me or you are fair game. I will bludgeon you to death with distortions, manipulations, and outright lies. There is no connection between means and ends. My opinions justify any means I can get away with -- and if I can't get away with it, I'll try to buy or pack the courts to serve me and my opinions." This is the sad fact of the state of our Union.
If we had even a remnant of consciousness or of conscience left, we could pick up a quote like this one from R. Buckminster Fuller: "We have the know-it-all to feed everybody, clothe everybody, give every human on earth a chance. We dwell instead on petty things... What a waste of time. Think of it. What a chance we have..." AND WE COULD RUN WITH IT!
We could adopt a vision that would compel us to climb out of our very small-minded opinions and embrace an existence of infinite possibilities! We could IN FACT create paradise on this precious blue Planet, but we are choosing to hunker-down into the black hole of self-orientation, self-congratulation, and self-religion. This worship of our small "selves", bleak with visionlessness, is the new American identity (and of course, like the good capitalists that we are, we are putting this on the global "free-trade" market for everyone to buy into).
The obvious way forward, at least for anyone not yet bought by "this filthy rotten system" (Dorothy Day), is the adoption of a national, international, PLANETARY VISION! We could start with Fuller's... it's pretty simple and clear... It is time to get real: we take this step or we perish. And make no mistake about it, the rich will go down with the rest of us. There is no other Planet that would put up with them.
Take off your clothes!
I didn't mean the fabrics you wear...
I meant your skin!
Strip down to particle and wave.
Then you can even leave that behind.
Become thought before thought!
It is possible to meet
Out in the field beyond
The illusion of separation,
The naming of this and that...
Of good and bad,
Of beautiful and ugly,
And of you and I...
Everything about the times in which we live re-enforces the illusion of separation. This most particular of illusions is the root problem that we face as individual persons and then in all the many different ways in which we relate and associate with one another. At least in America, we live very well dressed in our closed-up boxes, tops pulled down tight and snug around us. God forbid that anyone should ever see us naked: without our religion to separate us from "them", without our military to defend us against "them", without our borders to isolate us from "them", and without our money to create a "reality" to protect us from the really "Real"... and on and on and on...
Until our philosophies of life, our faith practices, our mindful meditations, our political convictions, our economic choices -- until the sum total of our lives awaken, we will only continue to be defined by our divisions. Aware of our core, essential, fundamental, radical, and all-pervasive unity: then and only then do we begin to live! Everything that we think, say, or do up to the point of awakening is only "doing time" -- living hunkered down in our skin and the box of our choice.
The "1 % ers" are so mired in forgetfulness that the "mirrors" of our placards proclaiming the need for social justice are invisible to "them"... Just as our practice and call for kindness cannot leave the police out... something more is calling out to us to be born in this moment... that "something more" is this: to be human, from here on out, is to reduce and then altogether eliminate divisions. Aware of suffering, we are determined to boldly initiate a radical re-ordering of priorities that we might ease every burden. Aware of suffering, we are determined to become a Planet of universal compassion. Aware of suffering, we are determined to calm fears and practice kindness as both personal practice and public policy. Aware of suffering, we are determined to discover the ways and means of building the Earth into its every possibility as Paradise for everyone. Aware of suffering, we are determined to believe in our essential identity as "One".
Perhaps the governments of the world will respond to the pleas of the "Occupy Wall Street Movement" and implement a progressive taxation system, eliminate tax havens (said to hold some 11 trillion dollars invisible to all but a few hundred people), and create networks of justice to salvage as many lives as possible... but it is also possible that the "principalities and powers" -- the unknown secrets of those who live by division -- will continue to "rule the roost". But our awakening is not contingent upon them! We can choose to create -- right under their noses, a brand new world! In every way possible we can walk away from their monopolies, from their obsessions, from their domination paradigm, and from their illusions of grandeur!
If you want to see something truly grand, watch the sunrise! Or watch a wave, one single wave, break upon the shore! I have held a hummingbird in my hands, one I caught under my hat as it vainly fought against a window for freedom... I held it in my hands, walked outside, sat it down on a tuft of grass, and watched it fly away. Freedom is as simple as that... close then open your eyes! You are free! Practice your freedom, help others to practice theirs, climb out of your box and help others out of theirs... let your awakening lead to awareness lead to understanding lead to compassion lead to practice... and let it all lead back to Only One, to One Love.
Now this is worth living for! And the Way will open up before you and before all of us, just exactly the way in which the sun rises in the morning... and, of course, waking up means we've got some work to do, some work that no one else can do but us...
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher. Robert is also an ordained Interfaith Minister.