Published in "Letters to the Editor", The Berkeley Daily Planet, Oct. 19, 2001.
Spiritual consciousness looks inward to the “self” for the causes of problems. It offers no solutions to social problems, but the radical root of a sound foundation for good religious and political action.
Religious consciousness works with inter-personal relationships as the causes and resolutions of problems. Religious consciousness without a strong link to the spirit easily takes over behaviors of groups – so that we have the “letter but not the spirit of the law.”
Political consciousness is “world” centered. Politics is just a step beyond religious consciousness. The same feelings that are religious interchange with religious patterns of behavior and thinking. Religious groups often try to take control of politics; or, politics tries to control religion. The founders of the American Constitution insisted on the separation of church and state for these reasons.
Some years ago, a friend of mine took me to task on my political activism, pointing out that “first we must change ourselves, before we can change the world.” Eventually, I understood his wisdom.
I admit it – I want a peaceful world, where people live in harmony. Not a very exciting vision. Peace is a precondition for happiness. To get there, I need to stay with the first step – which is to learn to be peaceful myself. Than learn to share that state with others around me.
In other words: be the peace that I want to see in the world.