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" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

Politics Is About Being Human

January 31st, 2017

Sunrise at Stonehenge. Photo: Andrew Dunn

I used to groan when I heard the word politics. I used to run a mile when I smelt a whiff of politics in an organisation or group. But over the years I discovered that where two or more people are gathered together there are politics, and I stopped running away, because unless you become a hermit, there’s nowhere to go! Any relationship, if it is to be more than superficial, runs into politics – by virtue of being human we have different views and opinions, and we have to negotiate, compromise sometimes, refuse to compromise at other times, give in, stand firm and so on. Likewise in a group. It is simply naïve to think that a group of people can run anything without sometimes disagreeing or needing to negotiate. Rather than pretending politics isn’t relevant to spirituality, I think it’s time for us to recognise that it is an integral part of it, since politics is about being human. If you’re having difficulty with this, change the word to community. World Politics becomes the World Community and the difficulties and challenges it faces. We all know now that we are one People on one Earth and if we’re not careful we might just mess the whole thing up completely.

In the times we live in, there is a powerful sense that we stand at a crossroads – at a threshold in the story of humanity. Suggesting that this is of no concern to us, or that as spiritual seekers we shouldn’t be concerned with politics seems very much like denial to me at this point in our history.

But how on earth do we engage this issue without it degenerating into us all standing up and shouting out our different political opinions?

I wrote those thoughts sixteen years ago – you can read the rest here. Perhaps we are always standing at a crossroads. But no – sixteen years ago we had  9/11 and we are still living with its legacy.

The question for me now is, how can I face the world without fear? When it can seem that the patients are running the asylum, only a strong sense of being rooted in a reality beyond the world of appearances keeps me from despair. And a small voice whispers: “We shall emerge out of this darkness.”

3 Responses to “Politics Is About Being Human”

  1. One of the things I love about Druidry (coming from an evangelical Christian past) is that it does ask us to engage with the world, to not be so swept up in what is to come after that we lose sight of the here and now, or withdraw into the forest entirely (though some days that is certainly tempting, especially right now).

    I don’t have the answers, but I do think it’s important to gently, firmly speak our truths, for silence implies consent (and with some of the things that are happening, I do not want to be taken as “for” things I oppose with all my being!). Compassion is always key, even toward those we disagree with, but we must balance that with self-care as needed.

    These are troubling times, but we were not born when and as we are by accident. I believe we have the human resources we need to bring about the future that best serves the whole of humanity. Hope and wisdom are not at odds, and that thought gives me comfort. Bright blessings. /|\ ~Mel

  2. “…only a strong sense of being rooted in a reality beyond the world of appearances keeps me from despair.”

    Thank you for saying this—it articulates something that was not yet fully articulated in my own mind. The sense of rootedness that you’re describing has been a key factor in keeping me steady, as well. I think if it were not for this abiding sense of connection to something “real-er,” I would be a lot more susceptible to feeling thrown by the present political scene.

    Along with the daily spiritual practices that have been helping me to maintain my awareness of that connection, I’ve been doing just a couple of other things recently that are perhaps worth mentioning.

    One thing is that I’ve started to research the ways that I might communicate more effectively with the elected officials for my district and state. I’m not sure to what extent similar strategies might apply in the U.K., but just as examples of studies relevant to American government, here’s one PDF and here’s
    another PDF. The results of the studies suggest the best ways of framing and delivering messages to members of Congress. As it turns out (no big surprise), shouting really is not the best way. Well-reasoned, personalized messages that reference specific legislation do have a chance of getting through, though. I’m pretty sure that I’m capable of writing letters and/or making phone calls of that type. Knowing that helps me feel a little more empowered—it’s a start, anyhow.

    Another thing is that your timing was truly impeccable for the release of your latest book. Actually, I have a bone to pick with you concerning Lessons in Magic. You happened to post about this book on the same day that my husband and I were leaving by train to visit his family for the holidays. I knew I would enjoy reading it on our trip, so I quickly scooped up an electronic copy. After reading it, I decided I would like to do the exercises. Since it’s such a charmingly succinct work, I figured it’d take me two or three months, at the very most, to complete all the exercises quite thoroughly.

    Well, more than a month later, I’m still stuck on the first line of Lesson Two. Why? Because you wrote: “Tell me all the things you love doing—all of them.” And I haven’t yet been able to find the end of my list. Every day, I remember more items that I need to add. At this rate, it’ll be years before I’ve finished these lessons. Thanks a lot. ;-P

    One of the aspects of the list that I find interesting is that most of the items do not strike me as particularly vulnerable to Presidential executive orders. A significant number of them could still be done under impoverished or even wartime conditions. And more generally, because I’m so busy doing things I love and thinking about things that I love, there’s less space for fear, and thus it’s all kept in proportion. 🙂

    Fear and love are not very compatible emotions, perhaps.

  3. I have long felt that all this turmoil was a necessary precursor to creating something better. I also feel strongly that spirituality in all its forms needs to be part of the world. Thank you for this post.

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