Tikkun Magazine

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Creative Commons.

Tikkun Magazine, September/October 2010

A Politics Based on Soul Force

by Marianne Williamson

I think that if you're looking at the world today and you're not heartbroken and you're not grieving, you're not conscious.

I also think that if you are not rejoicing in the miraculous possibilities that are available to us, then your outlook is spiritually immature. Lester Brown has described what China is doing with wind power, what Europe is doing. Considering these achievements increases the heartbreak because of the juxtaposition between what's happening elsewhere and what could be happening here. But Lester Brown is also reminding us that we have the capacity: it is the eleventh hour, but it's not midnight. So the question is, if we know these things can be done, what are we called upon to do?

There are some very deep metaphysical lessons that we have been given by the great spiritual traditions of the world on how to beat 'em when they're so big -- none more powerful than the story of David and Goliath. Goliath was a giant, and he was coming the next morning, and the fate of all Israel depended on the Israelites' ability to somehow deal with him. Israel had amassed its most powerful, bravest, most courageous, most able warriors, and they were quaking in their boots because they knew they had already done all they could. It was not unlike how we feel when we sign a petition, give $10, get involved -- and we sort of thought we did all we could when we elected Obama.

So there's this stunned moment, and we're all dealing inside with the question of, "How do we take on Goliath?" Well, David showed up. David wasn't big; he wasn't, practically, more than a boy. David was a shepherd, a musician, a poet. David was not a warrior. He dealt from the right side of the brain and he said, "I'll take on Goliath." And they said, "What do you mean you'll take on Goliath?" He was moved by spirit. He was moved by God. He said, "Well, I'll take on Goliath." They couldn't imagine that David had what the biggest warriors didn't have, and yet the warriors were too afraid and knew that their abilities were inadequate.

King Saul said to David, "If you are willing to do this for us, willing to take on the giant" (who is just laughing and waiting for tomorrow, when he will rip David in two), "then the least I can do is give you my coat of armor." And he took off the king's coat and he placed it on David's shoulder. David put on the coat and then took it off and handed it back to Saul and said, "If I do this, I'm going to have to do it my way." David didn't have the great capacity of the warriors of Israel. He didn't have the old war-making capacity -- he didn't even know how. What he had was a slingshot. Now the metaphysicians love this because that means that he had a little something that could go whoosh through the air. He had three stones, and the way he was able to bring down Goliath was by hitting him in the third eye. Why? Because in that place of moral truth, in that place of conscience, in that place of the holy and the sacred, the giant is completely vulnerable. The giant is completely defenseless when hit in the third eye, the seat of the soul.

When Gandhi talked about a politics based on soul force rather than brute force, people wondered how the people of India at that time could possibly take on the colonial forces of England. And how could the abolitionists possibly take on what in their time was the equivalent of big oil and big everything else -- the heavily entrenched big institution of slavery? How could the suffragettes possibly take on the institutionalized resistance to give women any rights in this country, much less the right to vote? They had a better idea, which they stood for with conviction: that life needs to go that way. And as Martin Luther King said, "The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

Now, in the biblical stories that are told generation after generation by both the Jews and the Christians, I've never once heard a Christian say, "I'm not going to go to Easter services, I already know what happens," and I've never heard a Jew say, "I'm not going to go to Seder this year because I know the story." The stories don't change, but we change. We change, so every year we meet the story from a bigger place. "Oh, I get what slavery means, I get what it meant that Pharaoh enslaved the Israelites: That's my cocaine addiction. That's my bankruptcy. That was my divorce. That was my cancer diagnosis. Oh, I get what the crucifixion is, it's that my husband left me, it's that my child is on drugs, it's that someone close to me died."

But the point of the stories (as important as it is that we recognize that we Jews were slaves in Egypt, and as important as it is that we recognize that Jesus died a horrible death on the cross) is that slavery was not the end of the story.

The consciousness of a man named Moses was such that in his presence deliverance became possible, even to the point of transcending the laws of time and space as we know them. And for the Christians, there was someone crucified on Jesus' left and on his right, but they were not resurrected -- there was something different about the consciousness of Jesus. So what the Jews are told with the parting of the Red Sea and what the Christians are told with the resurrection of Jesus is that slavery in Egypt is not the end of the story. Do not worry, because Jesus on the cross is not the end of the story.

Just as David is saying to Saul, "I can't wear your coat of arms, I have to do this my way," so in the New Testament the story is, you cannot put new wine in old bottles. There's not only new wine streaming down, there's not only new wine in terms of consciousness, there's also new wine in terms of what is happening on this earth. The new wine of what we can do with wind. The new wine of what we can do with solar. We could turn the military industrial complex into a humanitarian industrial complex.

You can go to Travis Air Force Base in the East Bay of San Francisco and see that the same C17s, the same planes, the same pilots that deliver bombs to Afghanistan delivered food to victims of the tsunami, victims of hurricanes, and victims in Haiti. The same scientists and research labs used to develop nuclear technology could easily be used exclusively for humanitarian projects. The Course in Miracles teaches that "nothing is holy or unholy in this world except the purpose we ascribe to it."

We're Americans, and Americans are good with a to-do list. It's a character strength. During World War II, Roosevelt said, "This is what we're going to do." I lived in Detroit and I saw the ways the automobile industry was turned to wartime production. Americans have proven that if we're told what needs to be done, we will do it. If you looked at World War II and you looked at the Nazis and the Japanese Imperial Army, you could liken those things to operable tumors. Operable cancers that could be, and were, brilliantly removed surgically.

Turning Love into a Broadscale Social Force

Today our problems are not surgically removable -- they're more like a cancer that has already metastasized. Yet we have already seen from our medical shift in paradigm to a holistic sense of healing that healing is not just the allopathic treatment of cells. Moral, spiritual, psychological, and emotional uplift are as much a part of the solution as are allopathic means. The same recognition is happening today when it comes to politics and society. That's what made Martin Luther King say Gandhi was the first person in human history to take love and lift it beyond mere interpersonal interaction and turn it into a broadscale social force for good. It's time.

What is terrorism if not hatred turned into a broadscale social force? What are many of these problems that we're talking about if not greed turned into a broadscale social force? History is urging us and life itself is inviting us to turn love into a social force for good. It's already been done. We don't have to reinvent any wheels. Gandhi did it. Martin Luther King did it. We can turn love into a political force.

We know terrorists are not terrorists because it is convenient. All the presidents say, "This terrorist's cowardly deed will not be allowed to stand." Heinous, criminal, violent, horrifying, evil I can see ... but "cowardly"? The truth of the matter is that hatred has a perverse kind of courage. Terrorists will do whatever it takes to effectuate a hateful agenda on the planet.

We need to love with as much seriousness as those who hate. We need to say, "What is the loving thing to do?" The loving thing is to get off fossil fuels and to use clean energy systems. The loving thing to do is to take the 17,000 children who die every day from hunger (one every five seconds) and feed them. The loving thing to do is to uplift the bottom billion as they're called, the one billion people living on this planet on less than a dollar a day, the silent emergency. We're really good at addressing the screaming emergencies: The children are suffering in Haiti? We're on it. There are all kinds of reasons why we don't even recognize the bottom billion and the terrible desperation they endure every single day. Above them are one billion more who live on less than two dollars a day. I visited a slum in Nairobi, two million people living in an area of two square miles. Four hundred people for one latrine. I don't need to hate anybody to change the world. I've just got to say this has got to stop.

Everybody who is a parent in this room knows what happens when you have a feeling that your twelve-year-old is coming home with vodka or that the fourteen-year-old is using crystal meth. You say, "That will not happen in this house" in a way that will make the children go, "whoa." I know, as a woman, that I used to think my mother's life was less important than it should have been because she spent her life loving her husband and her children and taking care of our home. I thought I could do something more important with my life. It took me decades to know that there's nothing more important than that. I realized that as a woman, as a daughter of God, and as someone living within the divine feminine archetype, you better believe I'm on this planet to take care of the home and to take care of the children. This planet is our home and every child on it is one of our children.

Parents don't have to get mad when they're dealing with those kinds of issues with their children. They have a sobriety and a consciousness within themselves when they say, "That will not happen in this house." We must have that kind of conviction. There are far more people on this planet filled with love than with hate, but those who hate have conviction. There are far more people who love than are willing to sell out this country or sell out this planet for the sake of a dollar. All we need is our conviction. We should sing and make music the way David did. We should probably give out some sandwiches or some pancakes the way David did. Then we'll take on our duty and know we're not going to do it the old way, we're going to do it the new way. We will do our part and I believe with all my heart that God will do His.

Marianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed spiritual teacher. Among her nine published books, four of them -- including A Return to Love -- were #1 New York Times bestsellers. She has been a popular guest on television programs such as Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, and Charlie Rose.

Source Citation: Williamson, Marianne. 2010.  A Politics Based on Soul Force. Tikkun 25(5): 68

tags: Activism, NSP, NSP Conference, NSP Speeches, Spirituality