Labor-saving devices have not helped this in the slightest. The fax, phone, computer, and Internet have all contributed to the acceleration of the pace of life, not to enjoyment and leisure. That people can do more in less time has only raised the bar of expected work output.
The frenetic pace of most of our lives leads to an inability to "find time" to do all the things we profess to believe in. We have less time to play, less time to give to community activities or charities, less time to read and develop our minds, less time to be active in fighting for the causes we believe in, and less time to meditate, relax, or celebrate the glory of the universe.
In a spiritually oriented society, time will be seen as precious. Not only will spiritual time be built into the workday (time at the workplace itself to stop and meditate or pray), but people will have shorter workdays and more free time.
The central refocusing of time will come through the reintroduction of Shabbat-the Sabbath-as a central spiritual practice..
To get to this kind of reconstituted work world, we need to organize ourselves and begin to mobilize around this vision.
What do we do first?
The hardest part of this discussion is getting rid of what I call "the reality police"-all those voices in our own heads that tell us that "they" won't let us make these changes and that therefore we are wasting our time even thinking about all this. As long as people allow the reality police to hold them back, the discussions will remain stunted and uninspired.
When people allow themselves to truly engage in this discussion, they end up with amazingly creative and inspiring ideas. I witnessed this in government agencies where members of our groups actually worked.
For example, in several groups with government workers, I found people getting very excited as they reconnected to the idealism that had led them to enter government service in the first place, ideals that they had been forced to abandon as they became socialized into a bureaucracy that frowned on idealism and creativity. In another set of groups with machinists and workers at an electronics factory, people were filled with creative ideas about how to make their workplaces more financially successful by producing goods people actually needed rather than goods people had to be convinced to need. In groups like these, people continually surprise themselves with exciting ideas about their profession or work-ideas they do not know they have until they begin to engage in these conversations.
The discussion of how to change your own work world or profession can lead to a new kind of "consciousness-raising group" that broadens the question from the world of work to our whole lives: "What would be different in our lives if we lived in a world with Emancipatory Spirituality as its bottom line?" We start with this question in the world of work, but quickly the discussion broadens to our family lives, our relationships with neighbors and friends, the kind of media to which our children are exposed, the kinds of social pressures we face, the kinds of products we consume, the degree of safety we feel in our streets, the problems we face building loving relationships.
The more we allow ourselves to enter into this "fantasy," the more we become aware of how very distorted our lives are in our contemporary "reality."
Part of the way Emancipatory Spirituality will eventually come to be the central transformative movement of this millennium is simply that people will allow themselves to ask the questions we are raising. As they begin to think these thoughts, they will begin to ask for fundamental changes in every aspect of their lives.
So one part of the strategy for those of us who wish to support the development of Emancipatory Spirituality is simple: we can encourage people to engage in this conversation, to foster groups in which these questions are explored in depth in every workplace and profession. We can encourage people to demand that the real world correspond to their highest ideals and visions of what could and should be.
Some people believe spirituality is merely a side show, something we do for our own personal lives, but without much consequence for our lives together as citizens and as part of a larger community. In the following chapters, I will show you how very different our lives together could be if we took spiritual life seriously and sought to rebuild our world in accord with the vision of an Emancipatory Spirituality. Spirit Matters-and I will show how very deeply it could matter were we to allow ourselves to really move in that direction.
Part of the point of drawing a detailed picture of what a transformed spiritual world could be like is that it helps sustain us as we face hard knocks in the early stages of the campaign for a new bottom line. The temptation to get so involved in these first steps that we lose our sense of where everything could eventually lead is one of the certain pitfalls of political struggle. Keeping our vision clear and returning to it on a daily basis to remind ourselves of where we are going are contributions that spiritual practice can make to social healing.