radical (rad'i-kal) adj. 1. Fundamental; basic. 2. Proceeding from a foundation or root.
ecstasy (ek'sta-se) n. Intense joy or delight; rapture.
We are living in a time of almost universal uncertainty. Wars and social chaos are the norm for much of the world. Economic globalization continues to concentrate wealth and power into fewer hands, with a grinding poverty afflicting nearly two billion people. World religions offer less and less inspiration -- with that void being filled by the voices of extremists who specialize in techniques of terror: both actual and theological. And yet at the same time, there is a general movement towards an awakening: cooperation and justice are increasingly watchwords; a universal mysticism is flowing from the vibrant poetry of Rumi; concern for the well-being of Planet Earth is now guiding the decision making of many persons and businesses -- and a few governments (especially notable are Iceland and Bolivia); and a new vision of humanity is beginning to emerge through "bottom-up" interfaith dialogue and experiments, women's organizational groups, and a new urgent activism evident in many parts of the world: so there is reason for hope!
That there are so many divisions is only too obvious: but are these obvious divisions always true? For example, consider the word "conservative". On the political surface it means "one who favors traditional views and values", yet the most traditional view and value of all is reverence and care for the soil and for all the life-forms that it supports: and as a principle, most folks who now consider themselves "conservative", reject all science in the area of climate change and resist every effort to preserve, protect, and "conserve the commons": the air, the water, and the soil from pollution: conserving the Earth for future generations is no longer a conservative view and value. The one overarching conservative conviction is faith in a free market economy to sift through our social problems and to eventually settle upon appropriate policies. Consider next the word "progressive" or "liberal": its current political meaning is "moving forward; favoring progress toward better conditions or new policies". Yet a modern "progressive value" does not question the necessity of faith in technocracy and science to eventually solve our human-made problems of over-consumption, Earth-exploitation, and in the essential "goodness" of free market or "predatory" capitalism: liberals believe that by tinkering around on the edges of social reality, it will be nudged in the direction of the common good. Both conservative and liberal are "joined at the hip" in regards to the same essential conviction of our role in the dominator paradigm: conservatives generally focus on the good of the individual as the "tell-all" of society, while liberals generally believe that individuals best thrive when the element of "fairness" is moderated in society by the government.
This brief article proposes an alternative view: it is time for a new radicalism that has as its core value the practice of ecstasy. Let me explain. We are confronted today with a status-quo animated by the dominator paradigm: both the Bible and the Qur'an are taught as elevating the male above the female, the human above the non-human, and this hierarchy is supported by justified force: for Christians the theological justification for these positions is rooted, not in the Bible, but in the philosophy of "original sin". This ranking, and the violence required to maintain it, is what is meant by the dominator paradigm: this is the structural principle of most religion, government, and business in what is now simply considered "civilization". The participants jockey for position of "top dog" through best business practices of maximizing profits, minimizing the labor force and cost, and enticing over-consumption among the population; likewise, a similar best business practice of demonizing competing religions and manipulating the faithful through fear-based theologies ensures a steady "supply" of adherents and access to power. In the dominator paradigm, both economy and religion are upheld by the constant threat of force; violence can be both random (terrorism) or sanctioned (war).