Posted on October 21, 2014
by Jerry Alatalo
abbi Michael Lerner, Sister Joan Chittister and Dr. Cornel West co-founded the Network of Spiritual Progressives. Michael Lerner likes to point out that Dr. Martin Luther King didn’t say “I have a… complaint” but “I have a dream”. The main message he gives to audiences across the United States and around the world is that liberal/progressive movements have excluded the spiritual dimension in their articulations, and that – because almost every human being desires a world with more love, kindness, caring, and generosity – simply because of that exclusion a better world has been severely slowed in manifesting into reality.
The Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP) share the perspective that there are two views of the world. One is a view that has been widespread in most of human society for thousands of years and says everyone is looking out for themselves, maximizing advantages and control so others won’t dominate and take advantage of them, all the while creating fear, distrust, and psychological, physical stress and violence ranging from personal differences to domestic/family disputes to wars between nations.
The other view, which Michael Lerner believes progressives unfortunately dismiss as impractical, has also been around for millennia, and that is a world of love, caring, kindness and generosity. This worldview forms the basis of all the world’s major religions, included in the sacred writings of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese folk religion, Shintoism, Sikhism, Judaism, Jainism, Baha’i, and others. Most people shift back and forth between the many times simultaneously held views in their daily lives and realities, and members of the NSP advocate for a tremendous strengthening of love, kindness, caring and generosity views in public debate, discussion, and other forms of conveying ideas and proposals.
If humanity were able to vote on it, most have reached the point where a new world fueled by more love, caring and generosity is something that would greatly help in solving what Michael Lerner calls the “spiritual crisis” created in large measure by absorption of competitiveness, maximization of profits, selfishness and materialism in today’s global society. In what Mr. Lerner and fellow members of NSP see as a great paradox, what most people want – a new and better world – is not coming into existence simply because people hold the belief that it’s not possible.
He gives the example of low-income people voting for right-wing politicians against their own interests to point out how progressives’ inclusion of the spiritual dimension in their writings, talks, and other forms of communication has become a serious matter for consideration. Widespread perceiving from the materialist, competitive view of the world has led many people/voters to – because of the shortage of spirituality in offered progressive political philosophy – lean on right-wing churches as their perceived only option for answering psycho-spiritual needs, although by doing so their votes end up going to candidates who act against their interests after winning the election.
According to spiritual progressives, change activists must acknowledge a failure to articulate a broader vision of the world which everyone wants: a different world conveyed which will startle and move people because they’ve never heard progressives talk from such a viewpoint. Michael Lerner is aware that responses to the ideas of spiritual progressives typically include “materialism and selfishness is everyone’s lifestyle” so what groups like NSP recommend is “unrealistic”. Michael Lerner’s suggestion to audiences is “do not be realistic”, throw out all perceptions that the way things are is all that’s possible, and always go for the highest vision of the greatest good, whatever your issue(s).
Michael Lerner is the editor of Tikkun Magazine (the spiritual left), with articles written by spiritually progressive men and women from all religious traditions. The following video is of Rabbi Michael Lerner giving a fascinating talk in Ashland, Oregon in September 2014 after accepting an invitation from Peace House.
Does participating in spiritual progressivism offer humanity a magnificent opportunity to create positive change – the new and better world every man, woman and child wants to experience?
For more information please visit: http://www.tikkun.org
(Thank you to Peace House at YouTube)