Marianne Williamson and Shadow Politics

Marianne Williamson is one of my favorite spiritual voices of our time. She writes in, A Return to Love:  Reflection on the Principles of ‘A Course in Miracles‘ , “ I spent years as an angry left winger before I realized that an angry generation can’t bring peace. Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it.”  She elaborated about a dream that she had at one time in her life which taught her that she was bringing to bear on the right wing animosity which had to do with her own personal issues, aside from the validity or appropriateness of the views and actions espoused by the right wing leaders .  Elsewhere in her teachings she explains that what she had to learn was to realize that she could hold firm with her political convictions and do so with great passion but without crossing the line to hating the persons who held the views that she disagreed with.

Williamson was dealing with something which is very hard to learn—how do we learn to be tolerant of the “intolerant” and even deign to learn at times that we are equally intolerant.  It is intoxicating to know you are right; but the greatest tragedies are perpetrated by people who are dogmatically assured that they are right.

This makes me think of something I recent ran across in the blog of Richard Rohr. He noted that we most pay attention when we have a lot of “anti-“ activity going on in our life, as in, “I’m against this, I’m against that…”   Rohr suggests that hen we have a lot of things we are against and are vehemently opposing them and campaigning against them, we should be given pause and should ask ourselves, “Is this our shadow rearing its ugly head?”   This is not to say we should not have standards and convictions and be ready to speak out for them.  But we need to take that “pause” occasionally and make sure that we aren’t merely grinding an axe in the guise of “truth, justice, and the American way.”

“With devotion’s visage and pious action we do sugar o’er the devil himself.” (Shakespeare)

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