The political and religious right have produced a spectacular train wreck, writes Tikkun editor Lerner (Spirit Matters, 2000, etc.).
How have they persuaded the American voter to buy wholesale into militarism, ecological irresponsibility, fundamentalist antagonism to science and rational thought and insensitivity to the needs of the poor and powerless? It’s because, Lerner suggests, people are repulsed by the technocratic rationalism that has come to guide everyday thinking, which zeroes in on a bottom line of power and the almighty buck, putting self-interest ahead of all else. Lerner believes that we are theotropic souls who turn toward the sacred (a word used in the deepest, elemental sense) as a flower pivots toward the sun. Humans yearn for what he calls “a spiritual politics,” a purpose-driven life guided by values beyond self-interest. This desire has been co-opted by the religious and political right, but their agenda is driven by fear rather than aspiration for the greater good. The universe is a scary place, the right tells Americans, needful of an avenger to dominate and control. While this mentality is ascendant, Lerner asserts that it is not carved in stone. If we had political figures with the gumption to advance notions of eliminating poverty, encouraging sustainability and rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, voters might respond. If we had a foreign policy that promised support for education and health, we might be on a better path to confront terrorists. Unfortunately, Lerner notes, the political left is clueless about the spiritual needs of the country’s constituents. Lerner fashions a set of national and international precepts to guide American political policy that are hard to pooh-pooh, putting forth a covenant of peace, social justice and ethically and ecologically responsible behavior revolving around kindness, generosity, opportunity, creativity and diminishing the schism between rich and poor. “The new bottom line,” as he sees it, “emphasizes the importance of social responsibility and the common good.”
A highly decent and challenging critique.