Martin LeFevre: What Kind of Revolution?
What Kind of Revolution?
In August, Barack Obama will be the first person of color nominated by a major party in the United States. It is looking like Obama is destined to be president. But something much larger than him, indeed, much larger than America, is going on.
Change appears to be afoot. But is the political process in America actually moving toward adequately addressing the ecological, economic, and ethical crisis facing humankind?
One wonders if Barack and Michelle are directly aware of this larger movement, which is much older and wider than the social and political history of America. We are all carried on the tide of human history, and knowingly or unknowingly, we all serve its purpose, one way or another.
Barack Obama may be able to become president if a revolution in consciousness does not ignite. Clearly however, a non-violent revolution does not begin with the political process, but ends with it.
There was a very telling moment in Obama’s speech claiming the Democratic nomination on Tuesday night. It came when he said: “I have limitless faith in the capacity of the American people.” Someone from the audience shouted, “We believe in You.”
The yell from the crowd echoes an uncomfortable truth about the Obamenon. With Barack’s encouragement, millions of people are projecting their hopes for a “better, kinder, more just America” into him. The sentiment of this ‘modern day Moses’ reverberates in millions of people when he says, “America, this is our moment, this is our time for new energy and new ideas…for a new direction for this country that we love.”
I hate to rain on the parade, but America will not so easily be able to get out of the hole it has dug for itself the last 30 years, beginning with Reagan-Bush and culminating with Bush-Cheney.
Does Obama really have limitless faith in the American people? Or is that just a rhetorical device, and Michelle comes closer to the truth when she speaks of ‘a hole in our national soul?’
Of course, no one should run for president of the United States or any other supposedly democratic country if they don’t believe in the people. After all, the Bush Administration manipulated the trauma and fear after 9.11, plunging the country into a needless and unbelievably costly war. They certainly didn’t have faith in the capacity of the American people to make an informed decision on the most momentous issue, war. But given the ho-hum reaction of the public once the facts were known, in one sense they were right.
Things hang in the balance for humankind, not just America, and a reduction of racial, gender, or national barriers in one country doesn’t define progress. In truth, there is no such thing as progress, except scientifically and technologically (which doesn’t mean human history is a meaningless movement).
It has become a cliché to say that the next revolution will not be televised. But that can mean anything from the corporate media suppressing the threat to American consumerism that a psychological revolution would pose, to vague intimations of some metaphysical phenomenon. Just what kind of revolution are we talking about, and how will it ignite?
We first have to have some understanding of the relationship between the spiritual and the political. Most people in the West identify themselves now as spiritual, rather than religious. With the exception of evangelicals, Mormons, and other proselytizing faiths, even many churchgoers don’t see themselves first as Baptists, or Catholics, Methodists, or whatever. Though they may attend church, synagogue, or mosque, their identities are no longer defined by a religion.
Yet nationalism remains unquestioned, so much so that Obama can say, with a straight face, “we are always Americans first.” (No, we are always human beings first.)
The spiritual vacuum in America is why many have invested Obama with religious fervor. That means that the spiritual and the political are being mixed together in both fascinating and dangerous ways.
The question is, is the Obamenon the political expression of a spiritual awakening, or the psychological projection of a spiritual void?
When someone says they are progressing into wholeness, I take it as an admission that they are regressing into fragmentation. Be that as it may, our individual transformations are our own business. Even so, the wellspring of the only true revolution—a spiritual awakening within the individual—is to my mind a given.
Human consciousness has reached a limit of accumulation of debris and darkness. Just as humans are fragmenting the earth to the breaking point, the useless material of content-consciousness is suffocating the human spirit and destroying the spiritual potential of humanity.
Can the revolution in consciousness that changes the basic course of humankind ignite at this point in human history? Without that happening, things are only going to get worse. It is therefore the most crucial and serious question we can ask and hold within ourselves, and together.
The material of collective consciousness, which exists in each one of us to one degree or another, can and must ignite. When it does, that will mark the beginning of the psychological revolution that changes the basic course of humankind. Until that actually happens, politics is merely a board game.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.