Today I’m going to talk about politics and economics. If you can’t handle talking about these things from a spiritual/compassionate lens, then stop reading. This isn’t for you. Come back next week (or tomorrow for a flash fiction piece like this one).
If however, you want to know what I have to say related to compassion in elections and government structures, then please, continue. This is sure to be an insightful post and if you allow it, will redirect your political life.
“Something is wrong in the state of Denmark.”
It is an old story – something played out time and again that allows Shakespeare’s words to live today.
I remember the day George Pataki was elected governor of New York. The sky was gray. I stood in the courtyard of Albany High School. My classmates milled around aimlessly, their expressions vacant, as they blinked, going through the motions of teen life.
Some people cried, holding their heads in hands.
The changes in the State Capitol Building were swift. With Mario Cuomo, a person could walk in and talk to the governor. In a few weeks of Pataki coming in, the place was surrounded by armed guards. State jobs were shipped to Kingston, a more Republican place. Albany – seat of Democratic power – was punished for not voting Pataki.
I was too young to really know much about policy choices. My mind was wrapped up in art, music, and the maudlin relationships of teenagers. I only recognized the mood of many adults around me. I recognized how they mourned Mario’s removal, and feared Pataki’s ascension. I could research the policy decisions of each and compare them, but that isn’t why I mention this story. I mention it because as with all political changes, there are consequences that impact people. All government action impacts people, and the more local, the more direct the impact.
It does not matter who you voted for – yesterday or weeks ago. There are some key points that must be understood around elections and government, and they cannot be understood with the head, but the heart.
The Compassionate Politician
Like all human beings, politicians need to be the best version of themselves. They must be models – examples of the best of humanity.
Yes, a degree of psychopathy may help in making tough decisions (Leadership positions have a higher rate of psychopathy.), but if we are to progress as a species, as a world, principles and values must be held at the forefront of all political choice.
This is to say, we need the Compassionate Politician.
The Compassionate Politician does not seek office for power, influence, or fame. The Compassionate Politician seeks office to make the world a better place for all people. The Compassionate Politician seeks office to create change. Such a person is committed to increasing access to services for all. Such a person is committed to what is best for their constituents, not what is best for the Politician’s career.
The Compassionate Politician holds a vision of a better future, working backwards from that vision, to determine the way forward.
All these things come from love. All these principles are based on a profound love for people. Anything less, is not compassionate, but fearful.
To make it perfectly clear, The Compassionate Politician:
Does not run for election (or re-election), but for bettering the world.
Understands “Politician” is another word for “Servant.”
Has a vision of what we can be, and works backwards from that vision to determine possible paths forward (i.e. “How can we make this happen?” as opposed to “This will never work.”).
Increases access to services and rights for all people.
Approaches policies from a place of love and highest good for all.
Is only influenced by love for people.
Out of Fear
The Compassionate Politician is rare because of capitalism.
Economics touch every aspect of life. It is both influencing and influenced by society. As our present economy is capitalist, this mode of interacting dominates our thoughts, and it is problematic because of the foundations of capitalism.
Capitalism is based on scarcity. It functions on the premise that a limited number of goods and services are possible. Necessarily, some people will have more, while many people have less. This is part of the rules of demand and supply which help maintain the whole system. But if some people have more, and many have less, what is the focus of the society? There’s an emphasis on what a person does NOT have. There’s an emphasis on lack, which leads to anxiety. This anxiety encourages a need to consume, to assure security. The problem is, in a capitalist system, there is no satiation. There is always the perception of lack. There is never enough security, so consumption transitions into hording. This profound fear has turned into greed.
Let me explain. If you horde your money in accounts, never circulating it, you are afraid. If you buy something in order to prevent something else from happening you are afraid. If you want to make sure you have it all just in case, you are afraid. How could you not be, when you focus so strongly on the very thing you do NOT want?
Here’s an example: A person who has starved once in their life has an insatiable hunger. They will never stop eating. So afraid are they of being without food, they become a glutton.
A rich person using tax havens is like the starving one. Their insatiable greed is born from fear of being without money. “Oh no! I need to have so much money to keep me safe from the storms of tomorrow!”
This person is foolish, making their soul sick, just as the starving person makes their body sick. Both are broken. Both are afraid.
In this fear, love is lost. Compassion becomes impossible because they are so focused on their fear, they grow blind.
The average politician is the same – they fear powerlessness. They do everything they can to maintain power. They placate and simper, and say all the right things at the right time, shrouding their beliefs in shadow, and displaying their motivation clear as day. Such a politician has a sickened soul. Such a person is broken.
But it is not too late! Anyone with soul-sickness can be healed. Anyone can let go of fear and choose love. It is possible. It has been done before, and it will be done again. All it takes is will.
Do not be afraid. Let go of fear and walk in love. Choose love. Start today (click to tweet).
The Path of Love
Voting for a candidate is not the end of advocating for compassion in government (or politicians), rather it is the beginning.
Each and every person has incredible power, if only we would exercise it. This means taking responsibility for our community as well as our world.
If we are compassionate human beings, we must seek and advocate policies that reflect this value. That means:
Healthcare for all.
Education for all as they choose.
Safe and comfortable shelter for all.
Nutritious food and clean water for all.
Peaceful communities for all.
Fair and reasonable justice for all.
Healthy and vibrant ecosystems for all.
Freedom of speech for all.
These apply regardless of skin, gender, sex, economic status, beliefs, or any other human difference there is.
Any barrier that prevents access to these things is by its nature, grounded in fear. Bureaucratic hoops, fees beyond a person’s means, structures biased towards certain identities must be removed. Any channel that is bottlenecked by powers reflects fear and must be removed.
Expansion of access and increased circulation of resources leads to a compassionate world, not restriction.
Corporations and or individuals hording control and or making shadow deals to maintain power, resources, or money, cannot be allowed to continue. The international trade deals that carried jobs overseas or tax havens in foreign countries are examples. Insurance companies who profit from customers paying in, but are unable to secure necessary treatments because of cost is another. These are immoral.
These fearful actions of a few bring dire consequences upon us all. In the best case, these powers may learn the path of compassion – which is my sincerest wish – and voluntarily expand access to rights, becoming champions of love. They would voluntarily circulate their resources, healing their hearts and minds, while expressing active love in all their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
There is more than enough for all if we can remove fear from our hearts and minds.
If a power is incapable of compassionate transformation, it is best that it transition out of power, its influence and resources disseminated under grace, for the highest good of all.
To move from this place, where fear directs many politicians and government structures, requires us all. Last week I talked about being a single drop but when we put together all of our drops, we become the mighty ocean and nothing stands against us.
Let us be the ocean (click to tweet). Specifically:
Forgive yourself and focus on compassion.
Vote for those who reflect the most compassion in politics (and will yield the most compassionate results).
Propose policies that reflect compassion and seek the highest good for all.
Join advocacy groups motivated by the highest good.
Volunteer with nonprofits seeking the highest good for all who are changing your community for the better.
Speak truth to power when it is based in fear.
Speak truth to friends and family members. Talk with them about compassion as your motivating force.
Give others the benefit of the doubt and forgive them. They may not recognize their actions are based in fear.
I say these things because they need to be said – because I love you so much. I say these things because I believe in us – in our ability to love and to make something beautiful that nurtures and nourishes all.
One way to connect with others from your community and build more compassion is to foster interfaith understanding. Bring it to your community with this world religion curriculum and interfaith devotional.
Another is to share this post.
Do as you feel led.
- Between Chaos and Order: The Need For A Middle Way - June 18, 2018
- Spiritual Mamas: Intuition, Spirituality, and Motherhood - June 4, 2018
- Neither Selfish or Selfless – Only Loving! - April 30, 2018