Political Polarization and Spirituality

I am following this political brouhaha closely this year in part because it is such a look-see into the human psyche, individually and collectively. I’ve said many times, “We wage the war we are” (W. H. Auden) and that is true also on the individual and collective levels.

I’m really appalled at the overt hostility present today in the political process, the unabashed hatred of O’Bama in particular. At times, on the extreme, it is not even subtle. And I look at the other side…my side…and I see that we too, the “good guys” (wink, wink)…are dug in at the heels also. I recently casually noted to a couple of friends that the real problem in our country is a spiritual problem. But, I quickly backed down, realizing how dorky that sounded. And, merely trotting out the words “spiritual problem” can sound kind of dorky.

But, let me say the same thing but in different words. We have a problem of “values”. The issue is, “What do we value, individually and collectively?” Our need is some unifying ultimate value, “Ultimate” if you please, toward which we can strive individually and collectively. Without this Ultimate value we are inevitable fragmented and any collective purpose is difficult to achieve. Now as far as naming this “Ultimate Value” I have no problem with the word “God”. But that word has been so banalized and vulgarized that many people find it off-putting.

And let me close with a John Masefield sonnet which explains why this word has become so banalized, so vulgarized:

How many ways, how many different times
The tiger mind has clutched at what it sought,
Only to prove supposed virtues crimes,
The imagined godhead but a form of thought.
How many restless brains have wrought and schemed,
Padding their cage, or built, or brought to law,
Made in outlasting brass the something dreamed,
Only to prove themselves the things held in awe.

Masefield saw that so often the object of our worship, our “highest value”, or “God”, is merely our self.


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