A basic metaphysical truth holds that for everything happening on the outer plane, an inner phenomenon preceded it. From the notion of Platonic ideals to Jesus’s admonition that “As a man thinketh, so he is,” we are informed by religious and philosophical truths that if you want to change the world, your most powerful tool is to change your thinking about the world.
Everyone can feel now that the world must change; and a critical mass is convinced that our thinking must change first. No matter whether we are at war with Iraq or Afghanistan; no matter whether we stop Iran from further developing its nuclear capacities or we do not; no matter whether Israel and the Palestinians create a two-state solution now or later, and so forth — war itself will not cease on this planet until we end the warring thoughts we think; and permanent peace will not come to earth until we find peace within our hearts.
A universal religion is neither necessary nor even possible; but a universal experience of love and forgiveness will save the world. It will save us because an accumulation of individual attitudinal breakthroughs will create new possibilities within our collective experience. First you have to forgive your own neighbor, and then you have the moral authority with which to lecture either Israelis or Palestinians about forgiving theirs. First, you have to find it in your heart to love the people with whom you don’t agree, and then you have the moral authority with which to talk about a new America.
Only a radical break with how we’ve thought and behaved in the past, will create enough force to truly change the world. Right now, our probability vectors indicate approaching and inevitable catastrophe for humanity. It’s the moral and spiritual challenge of our generation to shift that trajectory from probability to possibility, as we transcend the locks of linear thinking, bypass the constrictions of past patterning, and miraculously break through to a new level of consciousness. No government treaty can accomplish that. No one leader can call it forth. No worldly force can make it happen.
Only love can.
And yet that love is not a broad stroke. It’s one very personal, often painful change at a time… as each of us to the best of our ability develop our capacity to forgive, withhold judgment, soften our hearts and show up as our brother’s keeper. To love not only when it’s easy, but sometimes when it’s hard. That will be our political as well as our personal miracle, for as Gandhi said, “The end is inherent in the means.” An angry generation will not create world peace. But a loving one will. For in the blinking of an eye, we will have been changed.
And then the world will change too.
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About Progressive RevivalDiana Butler Bass and Paul Raushenbush both stand firmly within the Mainline Protestant tradition and, along with guest bloggers of all religious backgrounds are dedicated to the revival of religious progressivism and its influence in American politics.
ContributorsDiana Butler Bass
Diana Butler Bass is a commentator and scholar in American religion. She is the author of seven books including A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story (HarperOne, 2009).
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