An individual has not started living until he or she can rise above the narrow confines of his or her individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”-Martin Luther King, Jr.
During the third week of May, in Washington D.C. over 1,200 patriotic Americans of all faiths and the spiritual but not religious came together for the second conference of The Network of Spiritual Progressives/NSP and to lobby Congress. The activists are challenging the misuse of religion, God and spirit by the Religious Right and the anti-religious and anti-spiritual biases within the Liberal Left.
Authentic spirituality will inevitably lead one to become political. The Network of Spiritual Progressives is a diverse community that is unified by one heart that is broken over the state of the world and our nation. These activists are willing to sacrifice their life, resources and time to the work of confronting the Old Bottom Line in America which is based on greed, materialism, selfishness, power and over consumption.
The New Bottom Line proposes that institutions and social practices should be based on the higher values of love, caring, generosity, and equal human rights. The NSP proposes that the well being of every American depends on the well being of everyone in the world and recognizes our interdependence with all people and Mother Earth.
On May 18th the activists visited their Congressional Representatives to present “A Spiritual Covenant with America.”
The eight point platform addresses individual, social and governmental responsibility for ethical behavior that honors the sacredness of all life. As the debate over immigration was going on in Congress many activists were promoting a rational approach to immigration through a strategy of non-violence and generosity that works to eliminate poverty not with a hand out but with furnishing the means and the support to enable the impoverished to attain a decent life.
The NSP supports a “Global Marshall Plan to use 5% of the GDP of the advanced industrial societies-each year for the next twenty years-to end global poverty, hunger, homelessness, inadequate education, and inadequate health care. This will do more for homeland security and military safety than does sinking trillions of dollars into wars and strategies of world domination that can never work and are immoral…not by dumping money into the hands of corrupt governments, but through cooperation with NGO’s committed to human rights, democracy, environmental sustainability and enhancement and respect for native cultures and traditions.” [Number 7 in The Spiritual Covenant with America]
Many will say the NSP members are all dreamers, but it was dreamers who imagined life without slavery, civil rights, and women’s rights and it was Rilke who first understood: “You must give birth to your dreams: they are the future waiting to be born.”
These ‘out-of-the-box’ thinkers and visionaries will not be satisfied with any short-term political gain. The task of transforming society requires commitment, persistence and a deep inner life. What progressive spiritual activists have in common is a broken heart united over the plight of the poor and oppressed, a commitment to total non-violent resistance no matter what the provocation, and sacrificial lives that offer time and resources to actualize the message Christ spoke of when he proclaimed on the Mount of The Beatitudes, that the reign and the kingdom of God is a kingdom where all beings are equal and valued just as they are.
In a country that possesses 11,000 nuclear weapons with many in excess of 20,000,000 tons of TNT [the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were 12,000 tons] yet claims to be based on the Judeo-Christian ethic of thou shalt not kill, is staggering in it’s hypocrisy. The law of Karma is what goes around comes around and the fallout from one of these WMD will find its way back home through water and wind currents and the words of Pogo come to mind: “We have seen the enemy and he is us.”
Mankind is the only species that has the choice of annihilating itself. “Since the end of the Cold War, the world has spent more than $10 trillion on armaments. The Untied States alone spends approximately $100 million every day to keep its nuclear arsenal at the ready.” [Jonathon Granoff, TIKKUN Magazine 9/11/03]
American money proclaims “In God We Trust” but the facts on the ground are that we have become an empire of blasphemers.
Fundamentalist Christians rail against abortion yet are for capital punishment and war. They have narrowed morality down to abortion and same sex marriage and neglect that God is love and where ever there is love: God is there.
If we are serious about a peaceful world we must have a moral agenda that stands firmly against empire building and violence. John Dear, the Jesuit priest who has been arrested 75 times for his peace activism asked Cesar Chavez what he thought was the key to peace, and Chavez exclaimed: “Public Action! Public action! Public action!”
In the ’60’s we understood if one is not a part of the solution, one is part of the problem. Throughout America patriotic spiritual activists of all faith paths and the spiritual but not religious have found common ground and are doing something more than criticizing and whining. Chapters of The Network of Spiritual Progressives are forming from the New York Islands to the Gulf Stream waters for this world belongs to all human beings.