Every human culture, it seems, has had some notion of the sacred, and has placed that notion at the center of its worldview.
From this, we can conclude several things: 1) that a sense of the sacred – like other universals, such as language and music – is an inherent part of our humanity; 2) that therefore we can conclude that this sense has served the cause of life of our kind through the eons in which we developed; and 3) that the experience of “the sacred” possesses an important kind of power, that it is not just an inherent part of us but that it goes to our very core.
Woe, then, to a political force that is cut off from that source of power– particularly at a time like now when all the nation’s sacred values are under sustained assault. And woe to that nation in which a pathological force of destructiveness – finding the immune system in the body politic to be weakened — can rampage through the civilization!
That has been our situation in America today: a destructive force has taken over the political right, and Liberal America – too much of it cut off from the human core from which comes the power of moral and spiritual passions – has been weak in its response.
For the sake of our nation’s future, this dynamic will have to change. And if the needed change is to come, it will have to begin in Liberal America.
The right will not change until it is compelled by an opposing power to do so: the leaders on the right are too fully committed only to power for its own sake to return to the better angels of the old Republican Party; and the followers on the right are too fully trapped by the world of the Lie to hear the truth.
Liberal America, by contrast, need not change its direction. What is needed, rather, is a kindling of the fires of its moral and spiritual passions. What is needed is for Liberal America to see deeply the spiritual forces involved in our political battle, and the sacred values at stake.
(I will soon be presenting a series that represents my best effort to get those fires lit.)
It will not of course be easy to kindle those fires.It may be improbable. But, in matters of the spirit, one does not say “impossible.”
While the necessary battle is fought out in the “political” arena,” this battle — like the ones improbably won by Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel and Nelson Mandela – is ultimately at the level of the spirit.
In such matters, it’s never hopeless but that in our hopelessness, we make it so.