Learn from History or Repeat It
I think Rev. Larry's article is exemplary, well reasoned and sincere. He found a good, true fulcrum point in the "shadow" rationale. Many New Thought people have had trouble considering the notion of shadow in their purest interpretation of "positive thinking," much less how it applies to actual behavior in the real world. That is why it is an important portal of entry into the discussion.
The only place Rev. Larry loses me a bit is here... I believe that this grey area represents the territory where our dialogue on "engaged spirituality" must begin... He says:
"Moral superiority rooted in a judgment of another is no better than racism. The Crusades showed us the devastation that can result from unbridled sanctimonious authority."
In every lifetime there comes a moment to get off the fence. I believe this is ours... but with what sensitivity, grace and subtlety we choose to proceed is what will define our (as the Buddhists say), "skillful means."
I have always found it helpful to make a distinction between "moralism" and "morality." I choose to believe that there is, ultimately, a moral high ground expressing the nature of the Sacred, and that conscious, imperfect human values are not intended to be absolutely relative. In the context of Spiral Dynamics, Don Beck would call it "hyper-green-meme" thinking,” when everybody has to agree and everyone's idea has equal value in an outcome which cancels itself out. There is no "right" or "wrong," and therefore, no trajectory toward an evolutionary response.
Moralism and blind authority are, indeed, a bad combination. I doubt they were ever fueled into policy by rational voices from diverse seats around the table… and we can CHANGE that. Morality and leadership are, on the other hand, hallmarks of human civilization without which no collective advancement has ever taken root. So, here is the question: what is it we are calling VALUES if not advocacy of certain qualities, ideals, and choices over others? Tolerance is a value that helps us maintain checks and balances; not all choices are binary, and we have no right to abolish any idea with which we simply don't agree. But there are distant edges on both sides of the bell curve that measure degrees of deviation from a norm (collective consciousness, balance, order, true democracy), and approach lines that cannot be crossed if we hope to maintain a moral or ethical order as a human society.
If Universal Love of all beings is the "end game," is it not wrong to violently hate and overtly pledge to eradicate other beings because of the color of skin, nation of origin, or practice of faith?
CAREFUL HERE: Does it follow, then, that it is equally wrong to strongly and steadfastly oppose those who promote this expression of hate in our society -- not in the privacy of homes but in the public streets where life, liberty and law are at risk?
Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi held the key to this dilemma in the ideal of "nonviolent social change." They distinguished between the VALUE, and the MEANS or BEHAVIOR through which the value is protected.
They distinguished between aggression and defense. Between oppression and resistance. Between Moralism and Morality. Why should we not now, ourselves, be honest about the struggle for civil rights in our midst?
Why holocaust and genocide (Nazi Germany, Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, Congo, Tibet, Indigenous Peoples, and the list goes on..)? Why slavery? Why civil rights movements? Perhaps the terrible, elusive answer that provides a blood-soaked silver lining to these questions IS NOW IN OUR OWN HANDS.
In the past days, weeks, months and years of increasing abuses and atrocities of global human rights, I have heard a lot of arguments from New Thought (although, oddly enough, not from other Christians) asking, "Who are WE to judge?" And, on it's heels, "Who are WE to act?" There is also a distinction to be made between “to be rational" and “to rationalize." New Thought prides itself on embracing conscious evolution, as opposed to dogmatic fundamentalism. Each minute, hour, and day is our opportunity to express in a more perfect way the divine within us, out-picturing itself in the world through and AS us. Is this not the purest possible mandate to guide the evolution of our thought, choices, values and actions in service of co-creating a Sacred Society for all? As a community of New Thought practitioners, who are WE, NOT to make conscious judgements about our values? Who are WE, NOT to take a stand, even to act if we feel called? The quote attributed to George Santayana.. "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it," read, in its original form: 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' If ever there was a time for remembering, it would be NOW.