The Spiritual Dimension: Toward A Progressive Unifying Vision.

Posted on October 21, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

aaa-9Alphabet Rabbi 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:


(Thank you to Peace House at YouTube)

Imagine Seven Generations Into The Future.

Posted on July 6, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“The power of love, as the basis of state, has never been tried… There will always be a government of force where men are selfish…”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American poet, minister, philosopher

aaa-22Because the following address by Russian President Vladimir Putin will probably not be seen anytime soon on American television, and because of a belief that dialogue between people can lead to problem-solving if done with the genuine intent of coming to mutually satisfactory agreement, it has been posted here.

As one who believes there are no “sides” when it comes to international relations, that the human race consists of people all searching for good lives for their children and themselves, the basis of this post is to contribute in some way to greater understanding leading to improved relations between nations and people of the world.

Perhaps others are sensing what Mr. Putin describes as dynamic, moving very fast, international developments, and feel there are large-scale actions being taken that perhaps need some thorough analysis and discussion to discover and prevent possible negative consequences. In this address on Russian foreign policy to the nation’s diplomatic corps, Mr. Putin describes what he sees as the current situation.

He touches on Ukraine, where he sees the failure of international law and simple rules of conduct, multiple conferences which have led to no substantive negotiations, no negotiations on a new Ukrainian constitution in agreement with Eastern Ukrainians, among other issues having to do with lack of relevant discussions between citizens of both West and East Ukraine.

He noted that journalists have lost their lives in the Eastern parts of the country, asking the question “who is afraid of objective information being spread?”, then suggests that it is those who have committed crimes. He refers to French bank Paribas’ multi-billion dollar fine by the United States as an action unacceptable for conducting international affairs. He then talks about Russian inquiries into NATO expansion closer to Russia’s borders and being told it’s “none of your business”, and how some nations and groups “don’t like Russian independence.”

Mr. Putin then offers some hope by saying he still believes “pragmatism will prevail”, and nations will observe common rules of conduct based on mutual respect, coöperation, and compromise – not confrontation. He suggests that international law must be interpreted consistently, not one way then another, and that nations of the world must build the future on coöperation not hegemony.

He then touches on fair business dealings with Ukraine on gas shipments and contracts, and that there’s a need to learn the lesson that good faith consumers and suppliers shouldn’t become held hostage. He talks about the need for no unconstitutional coups on the Eurasian continent and no outside interference that increases the risk of another “Iraq, Libya, or Syria experience.”

Vladimir Putin then concludes by saying “we’re not cooperating against someone… we don’t want to isolate or confront the USA…” and that Russia is “not interested in multilateral formats where Russia has no say or just sits next to those making decisions.” Finally, he notes that Russian leaders “do not want to break relations with the US.”

Let’s hope and pray that those from all parties involved with Ukraine will resolve their differences in the most reasonable, rational, peaceful and honorable way.

Here are a few thoughts on that hope and prayer.

Here in July 2014  events around the world continue with no coming together of wise leaders to put an end to violent confrontation. Some have given up on any type of “Utopian” global arrangement agreed upon by all people in all nations and regions, while others still see the real possibility for humanity to build a truly peaceful world.

Unfortunately there still exists on this Earth a philosophical outlook which holds that violence, when used in the context of the late National Football League Oakland Raider executive Al Davis’ quote “just win, baby”, is acceptable as a form of business tactic. This philosophical outlook finds its manifestation in war and killing over the Earth’s most valuable natural resources, a centuries-old reality that has yet to become dealt with in such ways that eliminate war.

As ways are not yet found to end war, the violence continues, large numbers of men, women, and children suffer the range of negative consequences while living in war-torn regions, and there seems for many no end in sight. So, what will it take, and is it truly possible for the entire world to agree, on ending war?

For people in the United States who just experienced the Fourth of July holiday, perhaps the memory of those babies and infants at family gatherings will offer an opportunity to think about the future in ways uncommon. Perhaps there would be practical benefits derived from the adults asking what type of world they are leaving behind for those young ones – the next generation. Will they be hearing about and seeing scenes of war at various places on Earth, on a consistent basis while they grow, and what kind of effect will it have on them?

Will they, from hearing and seeing war, develop psychological problems in their attempts at making any sense of war, and come to experience the same types of negative consequences that all those who feel empathy and compassion for the innocent victims of large-scale violence? Do those who are responsible for unnecessary and immoral war, those who commit the supreme crime of war of aggression, have any concern for the young ones and their futures?

Who speaks for future generations?

There have been entire societies which have made decisions based on the spiritually based concept of seven generations. If those who hold positions of authority today, those who can start military operations, were to base their decisions on the seventh generation philosophy, would this make a real difference – perhaps all the difference – on this Earth? Seventh generation thinking is about taking into consideration the effects of actions on men, women, and children seven generations into the future. If considered actions are viewed as beneficial for those seven generations from now, then those are actions which are good and agreeable and taken. If actions are viewed as ones which would be harmful to future generations, then they are not implemented.

Thinking about the seventh generation philosophy one finds it intriguing to imagine what the world would become if there were a global agreement to live by its basic creed. Then one can imagine how groups of people would take actions for their particular “seventh generation” in opposition to the future benefits of other groups, in a kind of “my seventh generation is more important than yours” scenario. For the highest spiritual benefit to become realized there would need to become developed a full and shared understanding that “generation” means the entire human race, to end any sense of separation between people of various nations and regions – one of the main reasons for historic conflict.

The seventh generation philosophy, for it to make a profound difference in the international affairs situation on Earth, will require a  firm, widespread agreement on the broadest, underlying basis of a philosophy and spirituality that all life and all things are sacred.

The disciples asked: “On what day will the kingdom come?” Jesus said: “It cometh not with observation. They will not say: Lo here! or lo there! But the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the Earth, and men do not see it.”

– The Gospel of Thomas

Some hold the opinion that when there is war and killing occurring anywhere on Earth that all people become affected negatively by it. Perhaps some have sensed this over time, and find themselves troubled upon hearing of innocent people dying in various war-torn regions. One could find comparisons or analogies between negative thoughts in oneself and negative events occurring around the world. Just as a man or woman must deal with and strive to drop negative thoughts, so too does humanity need to deal with negative events such as war – then end it.

Just as a man or woman replaces negativity with thinking based on perhaps more refined philosophical and spiritual wisdom offered by men and women through the centuries, so too does the human race hold the option of agreeing to base world-consequence decisions on the most moral and ethical thoughts available. The strain of moral philosophy offered here is but one of many developed by philosophers from locations around the world through history.

Perhaps one can imagine that those various philosophies, forming the basis of the great religious traditions and found in each group’s sacred writings, are facets on the same diamond of spiritual truth, and able to become synthesized when there is no longer any claim made that “my religion is the only correct one, all others are false.”  It seems that such separation thinking is the cause of misunderstanding, ill-will, competition, hatred, and violence. Perhaps it is time for the world’s people to evolve past separation and arrive at a place of unity, coöperation, loving-kindness, and peace.

“It is time” are three small words that get written often, and have been used by men and women for centuries to suggest new ways of living on Earth. Probably the quote from French poet, novelist, and dramatist Victor Hugo (1802-1885) – “Nothing else in the world… not all the armies… is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” – is most well-known. Billions of men, women and children are waiting for such an all-powerful idea to come, and it takes the form of recognition that we are all connected on this Earth, that whatever we do to others we do to ourselves.

The idea whose time has come is represented in the synthesis of all philosophical and spiritual knowledge and wisdom ever discovered up until now in the year 2014. That synthesized wisdom, when spoken in a type of “new common language” by people everywhere, becomes the basis for creating a new world – the constructing of which begins as soon as the language becomes spoken/communicated widely.

Some would respond in their minds with “you are only repeating the impossible visions of dreamers and impractical visionaries who’ve tried and failed to bring about good changes on Earth” and are unable to believe but that there is no ending war for it is a perennial condition. Others in their way of thinking will silently say to themselves “this is a noble goal, but it won’t happen in our lifetimes.” Then there are those who think “well, 99.9% of the world’s people would vote for true peace, brotherhood, coöperation and acknowledgement of life’s universal sacredness, so perhaps this idea is one whose ‘time as come’.”

Would it make any good difference if men and women spent some time imagining the future – long after they’ve left this lifetime – viewing/visualizing life on Earth seven generations from now?