“As we grow in our commitment to racial equality or social justice we have to be very imaginative. We have to find ways that have transformative potential.”
~ Walter Brueggemann
We find ourselves in a complex, fast-changing world. As the Spiral Dynamics™ model show us, some are being left behind as overall complexity grows, and those people are frustrated, angry, and in many cases, acting in regressive ways to return our society to an idealized former time. There are many problems with this – including the fact that cultural evolution only goes in one direction, toward the future and greater complexity.
We in New Thought find ourselves being called to transform how we relate to the world beyond the walls of our spiritual communities and ministries. It no longer seems sufficient to stay inside and work only on our own spiritual growth. So many of us find an emerging yearning to engage with the larger world to co-create a better world for all. This emerging way of being represents a sea change for the New Thought Movement. Like any new way of being, there is a learning curve and a requirement for deeper inner work.
“Offer yourself to the world — your energies, your gifts, your visions, your heart — with open-hearted generosity. But understand that when you live that way you will soon learn how little you know and how easy it is to fail. To grow in love and service, you — I, all of us — must value ignorance as much as knowledge and failure as much as success… Clinging to what you already know and do well is the path to an unlived life. So, cultivate beginner’s mind, walk straight into your not-knowing, and take the risk of failing and falling again and again, then getting up again and again to learn — that’s the path to a life lived large, in service of love, truth, and justice.”
~ Parker Palmer
Our young people are very clear about the imperative to be in the forefront of social activism. The Parkland, Florida students (LINK) are showing up in an inspiring fashion after the tragic mass shooting at their school. Many New Thought Young Adults are socially engaged without involvement in a New Thought spiritual community. This is not a trend of the moment, this is the current face of an ongoing emergence of the human desire for peace and connection in our lives. It is the self-correcting mechanism of the newly emerging consciousness to replace an older declining consciousness. And it will happen with or without the involvement of the New Thought Movement. I, for one, feel that we have much to offer at this time, but we are not essential to its momentum.
Spiral Dynamics speaks to the process of emergence – the need to midwife the newly emerging values systems and to hospice the older fading values systems. Spiral Dynamics also tells us about the nature of the Green Level of Existence (LINK) which is a “we” level and places a high value on people feeling good about themselves and their surroundings. This can manifest as a fear of “rocking the boat” or creating discomfort of any kind. When Postmodernist-Green is unhealthy, it will seek to justify victimhood and may insist that entering the world of politics is not spiritual. Those centered at Traditionalist-Blue may also resist political or social action, but for different reasons – essentially that it is not part of “our tradition.” And Modernist-Orange may be preoccupied with personal success and not interested in the greater good. One thing is clear – spiritually motivated social engagement requires showing up prepared on several levels.
“You can’t be a wimp when you’re doing justice work.”
~ Bishop Yvette Flunder
As I have noted before (LINK), social engagement demands a high degree of psychological and spiritual development, including high emotional intelligence. Entering the wider field of social action means entering places where fear, ignorance, anger, and, sometimes violence dwell. Spiritual Leaders who are engaging in this way need to have more rigorous standards for their students and congregants. Those who are unprepared may well do more harm than good in stressful situations. They will encounter fake news, Russian trolls and bots, and a lot of angry people who are convinced they are on the right side. This takes a great deal of spiritual poise.
Spiritual leaders must be about the business of preparing their members for spiritually motivated social engagement. This is not about attracting new members or creating a certain image in the world – it is about walking our talk and bringing our spiritual principles forward to contribute to the healing of humanity on this planet.
Our spiritual principles tell us that wholeness and healing are already present in the field of potential – they need to be revealed by means of a change in consciousness. We can be the living examples of love, compassion, wisdom, and strength by engaging in social action having done our spiritual and psychological work to be our best selves. We can show up and be examples of healthy responses to a wounded world.
“So perhaps change is less about fixing a broken world and more about uncovering hidden wholeness in all events, all organizations and all people and remembering our personal power to make a difference. This old story has greatly changed the way that I am a physician and also a teacher. It has given me new eyes. Everyone and everything has in it a seed of a greater wholeness, a dream of possibility. Perhaps what I once saw as ‘broken’ or ‘lacking’ might just as easily be seen as the growing edge of things … a place to be valued and nurtured in our patients, our students and in ourselves.”
~ Rachel Naomi Remen
What I saw at the recent Centers for Spiritual Living Convention was a call for greater engagement. It was in many of the talks, workshops, and hallway conversations. The time has come for New Thought to step forward as a body of evolutionary souls who have been willing to do the work of personal healing and transformation to be prepared to contribute significantly to creating #AWorldThatWorksForEveryone and #TheBelovedCommunity (LINK).
“Job Description for Spiritual Seeker: Full time position available for person who strives to be mindful and aware of the deeper context of life. Must be intellectually curious, open-minded, and willing to change. Reverence for creation, personal humility, and a strong commitment to social justice will be necessary. Study, prayer, dialogue and meditative practice are expectations. Cross cultural experience important. Compassion and kindness are requirements. Starting date: now. Salary: zero. Benefits: unlimited. Apply in person to the Maker of Everything.”
~ Bishop Steven Charleston
Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard