At this moment many in the United States are focusing attention on the financial and political news that the mainstream media are presenting. Our economy , we are told , is in crisis and our political system is in dire need of fundamental change. Liberal and conservative arguments abound.In the midst of it all the heart aches for wisdom, for integrity, for truth. Candidates for president and vice-president hold debates and yet these seem more like info-mercials with scripted speeches and very little engagement with each other or with the issues. Candidates are rated on the basis of their appearance, their poise, their charm, etc... One would think this was a modeling school for some fashion magazine or a teenage dating service where wearing cool blue jeans would get you selected. Are we really this superficial?
Regarding the vice-presidential debates and at the risk of being perilously punny - while many thought that Sarah would Pal-in comparison to her opponent there were others who thought that Joe was simply Bid-den his time waiting for her to make a huge blunder. Apologies to all...
Recently I had the privilege of visiting a little community of people called Reba Place. They are about 300 people living in Chicago/Evanston. Let me tell you a bit about them. There is a core group that lives communally and shares a common purse meaning that all income goes into one common fund and from that fund needs are met. Interesting. And very monastic. One evening I sat with some of their young people watching the presidential debates and after we discussed it. One young man is from South Africa and he made an interesting observation. He asked " Did anyone hear Mr. Obama refer to the United States as " the greatest nation on earth"? Silence. It was a question that no one else asked. I raise this because I believe that this phrase ' the greatest nation on earth ' represents the kind of thinking that has landed this country in the economic/political dilemma we are in now. To actually believe that one's nation is the greatest nation on earth blinds us to the beauty and goodness of every other nation. We can no longer afford to be so blind. For at risk is not just our national well-being but the very survival of our beloved planet. Our encounter with other nations must come from a place of respect and humility.
More and more people are coming to realize that the heart of the matter is how we live. Do we live together wisely? Generously? Do we meet and greet one another with deep respect? Do our communities demonstrate another reality other than that of greed and selfishness? Hats off to little communities like Reba Place who in their meeting share resources and value justice. Do we really value people or do we use them like commodities to be consumed and discarded? Are we committed to one another for the long haul or just for the moment? I hesitate to use the word love in this context because it has been so misused in every context. But it is precisely love that is needed. Love does value persons in a deep and committed way. At the heart of the matter is meeting the other and loving wisely.
Two little poems that speak of meeting and loving...
WHERE SEA AND LAND DO SEEM TO MEET
AND RUNNING WAVES CARESS A GOLDEN SAND
THERE, IN THAT PLACE...
A WARM EMBRACE
THE SWEETEST KISS OF ALL.
I AM INDEED A CLUMSY FLOWER,
NOT A ROSE AT ALL,
BUT A BUMBLING BUD