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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Leader With No Soul

What happens if a man without a soul becomes leader of the nation?

I recently wrote a book I am calling "Soul Growing." It is a reflection on spiritual exercise for the postmodern world or what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "the world come of age." In it I describe a man without a soul. One of my observations is that ego is in inverse relationship to soul. So I began describing what a person that had extremely high ego (which BTW is usually a product of insecurity) would be like.

As I was writing, I read the interview with Donald Trump's ghostwriter and realized that I had a real live example of a man without a soul. But now, against all odds that I would have given, he is president-elect. The Leader. The Decidifier. So I ask myself what is a person who wants to grow her soul to think, to feel, to do now?

I think of Bonhoeffer's words: "If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can't, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver." And "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."

Those of us who aspire to be great souled must remind ourselves that:

  • Any event, even the most adverse event, can be an occasion for growing the soul. Setbacks are for learning. Suffering is the stuff of solidarity.
  • The universe continually presents the possibility of disaster, including death and destruction. To be open to life and existence itself means to accept this possibility. And this is the most important of spiritual exercises for soul growing.

And so what to do:

I intend to keep my faith in humanity, over any belief or ideology, and my hope in the possibility of transcendence even in those who follow a man with no soul.

I intend to maintain my own inner peace and to connect with other souls who will resist the negativity of violence even if that means accepting violence on myself.

I intend to help build pockets of resistance against the building of walls, forced deportations, racial profiling, and registering persons by religion.

Our life is very short. We use the little time, space, and connections we have to advance the human spirit and remove the obstacles to progress.

You can tell I have once again taken up Bonhoeffer and especially his Letters from Prison. He returned to Germany from the safety of teaching in New York to accompany his fellow citizens and resisters in their suffering. He preached against and resisted Nazism, was arrested and sent to prison for being connected to the officers' group that tried to kill Hitler. Just a few weeks before the Allies took Berlin, Bonhoeffer was marched out naked to the courtyard of the concentration camp and hanged. So reminding us of another martyr who resisted empire 2000 years before.

He is the model for us of the great souled leader confronting the man without a soul.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

My Dear Adeline

My big concern after realizing that Donald Trump won the election was how do I explain this to Adeline. My 15-year-old granddaughter is getting involved in community politics. She accompanied us to the Democracy Awakening rally and march in DC. She canvassed with me in Pennsylvania. She volunteered at polling places.

In a Pittsburgh suburb, she was disturbed by a couple of Trump supporters who were sullen and mean and by a black man who brusquely said he wouldn’t vote. I realized how brave it was for her to leave her multi-racial, liberal Montgomery MD neighborhood. She had spent time on her own visiting relatives in France and Montreal. But Trumpland was a totally foreign country for her.

How do I tell her, a citizen of the world, a young woman who believes that good people will prosper and prosperous people will do good for those who are not, by paying their taxes to support their country so others can be as fortunate as she? How do I tell her to keep on working, actively fighting for women’s and civil rights? That a man who disrespects women, who demeans immigrants, who mocks persons with disabilities, who dismisses persons of color, who refused to say whether he would accept the results of the election, who promised to jail his opponent if he won, who gloats that he does not pay taxes, who refused to disown the Klan and neo-Nazi's, who offers to increase the warming of the earth and deny health care for all is our representative to the world.

I am so sorry, Adeline. I realize that I may not see a woman as president in my lifetime. But I trust you will. You advocated for a woman guided by the vision of Eleanor Roosevelt for more open boundaries, world government, free peoples, and equity for all in poor Appalachia, in black urban ghettoes, and in the world—the Star Trek image of an interconnected earth.

But not yet.
Not while we value individual wealth over commonwealth.
Not while role models proclaim people of different cultures as aliens.
Not while we act out of fear of losing and blame others.
Not while there are people who consider themselves white.

But please, Adeline, consider the story of the universe and the very brief chapter in which we appear. No, we haven’t reached even near our potential. I have faith that we can transcend the artificial walls, the silly beliefs, and especially the destructive fears that hold us back. And I know you can and will.

Do not blame Trump, do not blame his misled fearful followers. Let’s agree that this is an occasion for taking responsibility, to go high, to show the great Soul that is in us, our communities, our nation, our world, and our universe. Let’s agree to keep reaching. And let’s be joyful and grateful that we can.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Great Realignment and a Framework for Coalition and Compromise

I'm trying to understand this election and its lessons for our political order.
Here are two papers I wrote that I would love to have feedback on.

Three Americas:!AsdGgNbEJTDDgg0kNkJ4NcG7JOth

The Deplorables:;postID=8971235884041140634;onPublishedMenu=editor;onClosedMenu=editor;postNum=1;src=link