We certainly hope you enjoyed our new video, Down at Daddy Dee’s, from the on-going saga, Prophet or Madman, The Web Series. One thing for sure, you can’t say we lack for interesting characters.
Today finds our heroes, Bruce and Steve in chilly New York getting ready to open the play, (back by popular demand,) The Ice Cream Man Cometh. If you’re anywhere in the New York area and are brave enough to venture out, we’d like to invite you to come to the 13th Street Repertory Company to see the boys (along with the lovely Greta Blackburn and Sandra Nordgren) in action. (As a gift to our fans, mention Beliefnet and get a discount on your tickets to any performance.)
As to today’s blog, when they leave things in my hands, you never know what you’re going to get. When the cat’s away, and all that…
Bruce is always saying, “See things through your spiritual eyes. From the spiritual point of view, everything is perfect in all creation.” I have taken great inspiration and solace from that idea. When things don’t seem to be going my way, or the news of the world is particularly bad, this notion of cosmic perfection is like a drink of cool water to a thirsty, sometimes very thirsty man.
In this blog I hope to reconcile, just for today, the spiritual view of infinite perfection with my own social conscience by commenting in a small way on our president’s State of the Union address.
The first point of note in President Obama’s speech was his noble and laudable call to return our collective emphasis toward education, infrastructure and science to build the nation’s long-term competitive capabilities. In the 1950s and 60s,we were competing against the Soviet Union. In the 1970s and 80s, it was Japan. Now our great competitor is China. It seems as though everyone accepts this assessment as a rationale for getting the nation in gear and pushing forward. “This is our Sputnik moment,” the president said.
At a Moslem bookstore I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “The only true jihad is against self.” This reflects, in my opinion, a deep understanding of the human condition. At this time in our history, we face no exogenous threats. The lions, tigers and bears no longer threaten us. They haven’t for a while. As the cartoonist Walt Kelly famously wrote, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The only struggle is against our own lower nature, the one that’s red of tooth and claw.
In my view, it is the very idea of competition that needs reexamining. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.”
We so often view the world as “us versus them.” We compete militarily, politically, economically, in just about every way. Yet we are at a point in history where we can afford to cooperate. Indeed, our place and time strongly suggests we cannot afford to not cooperate.
As my dear friend Eve Darling of the National Optimists Party says, “Let us relegate competition, so much or so little of it as may be desired, to the field of sport. In all other endeavors, let cooperation reign.”
The second point is more general. Throughout the course of the 20th Century, a century that saw more innovation and more generalized mayhem that any other, we Americans grew used to and accepting of our role as the most powerful nation on earth. An unspoken theme running through Mr. Obama’s speech (and that of all political discourse) is the furtherance or maintenance of American power. To go back to Bruce’s idea about cosmological perfection for a moment, any power we individually or collectively may have amassed in our history, we are of little to no effect beyond our solar system, a tiny backwater in the great majesty of the universe. Our rather childish fixation on power would be ludicrous if it didn’t constitute its own existential threat to our very survival.
As life goes, we are a young species, but we have risen to dominate life on earth. We’ve come to think of ourselves as the power around here. We could comfortably indulge this notion when we were fewer or had less impact on our planet and its inhabitants, but now, we do so at great peril to ourselves, our children and theirs.
Though they say you can’t legislate morality, there is one point where spiritual eyes and social eyes converge and it is this: Unless and until the love of power is supplanted by the power of love, we, my fellow citizens, are just walking the decks of a slow freighter bound for earthly extinction. No amount of political cheer leading, however well-intentioned, can change that.