This article was originally published at americanchronicle.com on July 7th, 2007 or 7-7-7
When I was in my early twenties, I had a girlfriend I was very much in love with. I spent a lot of time over at her house. One day her mother and I were in the kitchen talking when, and I don’t know how this happened, the subject of religion came up. I had been brought up a Roman Catholic and my girlfriend and her family were practicing Catholics, but I had given up on that religion long ago and was never confirmed. In fact, I had given up on organized religion by then and was exploring other purviews of spirituality. I don’t remember how the conversation got to this point, but I do remember telling my girlfriend’s mom that I was not a Christian. She looked me in the eyes and said, “Szandor, you are the most Christian person I know.” That statement left me speechless. I really didn’t know how to respond and as far as I can remember that is where the conversation ended. It wasn’t until some time later that I began to understand what she meant. She wasn’t referring any religion I practiced or didn’t practice, she wasn’t referring to any belief system I held in my heart, she was referring to my actions. More specifically, she was referring to how I treated her and the people she saw me interact with. This, to her, was more important than anything I believed in.
I am not a religious person. I don’t prescribe to any religion, organized or otherwise. That, however, does not mean I’m not a spiritual person. Au contraire, I believe myself to be a very spiritual person. I don’t get my spirituality from some five thousand year old tome. I don’t claim to know the mind of some omnipotent supernatural being. I don’t strive to be a scholar of this scripture or that canon in order to find some illusive, all encompassing truth of the universe. I don’t pretend that my beliefs are "The Correct" beliefs and that all others are somehow inferior to mine. I do believe in God. Or the Creator. Or the Universal Mind. Or the Cosmic Muffin at the center of all. Or any of a number of other nomenclatures which refer to the concept of something more. I believe there’s an intelligence, or perhaps numerous intelligences, out in the cosmos that exist beyond the material, but not necessarily apart from it. I believe in the divinity inside me, that I continue to exist even when this corporeal body ceases to function. In short, I believe in spirit, that we consist of spirit, that spirit is more than the material, therefore I am spiritual. I reiterate that these are my beliefs, regardless of how silly you may think they are, and I do not hold them to be fact or absolute truth. I’ve come to hold these beliefs by reading and listening to other people’s experiences, observing what goes on around me, from various personal experiences and from a number of other sources.
I didn’t become spiritual by reading the Bible, or the Koran, or the Vedic texts, or the teachings of Buddha. Near as I can remember, I’ve always been spiritual. I enhanced my spirituality through observation. I’ve looked inward through meditation. There is inherent beauty in nearly everything that is. There is ugliness and flaws nearly everywhere you look. I believe that everything happens for a reason, that everything exists for some purpose. It may be a very small, seemingly insignificant purpose, but a purpose nonetheless. I believe we are on this Earth, experiencing this now to learn and to grow as spirits, not necessarily to prosper as material beings. As humans, there are a myriad of emotions to experience, an infinity of thoughts to create. How we, as humans, share these is severely lacking. How can I relate my deepest, most profound sorrows, the utter despair of desperate loneliness, the abstruse shame of humiliation, the abject profundity of guilt, the complete finality of loss and the perfect self absorption of self pity? How can I express the complete elation of my joys, the unabashed bliss of love, the camaraderie of friendship, the pure ecstasy of laughter? These symbols that we put together to create words to try to express the above ideas seem woefully inadequate. Unless you have experienced these things, and experienced them with the same intensity I have, it seems impossible to properly explain the feeling, and I haven’t even touched on most other emotions. The only way I could think of to adequately explain my feelings is to be able to somehow transfer them right to you. Perhaps that’s why we all exist, so we can directly transfer our experiences to each other while in spiritual form.
Politics, like spirituality, is all around us. It creeps into every aspect of our lives in ways we wouldn’t expect. We have politics in the family and in the office and even on the various fields of play we may engage in. These areas are where politics get extremely local. Politics is all about control and whose rules we follow. Many times we may find ourselves at odds with someone else due to a clash of ideas. They may want you to do something you don’t want to do or vice-versa, or they may want you to do something in a way you don’t want to do it. In a healthy situation everyone that needs to will have their input considered. If things go well one party will get the other to agree to their point of view, if not an argument may ensue. Perhaps someone will only begrudgingly agree or perhaps one of the parties will simply leave and go on to do their own thing. Whatever happens, force should not be involved. All relationships should be voluntary in nature. Using force will usually cause bad feelings and maybe even some unintended consequences. Sure, even with situations where some compromise is necessary and some conciliatory stances taken there may be anger and sour grapes, but these are more likely to clear up and all be forgiven so long as force is not used. The use of force has a tendency to get into the bloodstream and fester. It affects more than the body and mind of the individual, it affects the spirit.
Government is force. It uses coercion and threats to get its way. It instills fear in the citizenry to get them to obey the law, even the laws that cause no one harm and disallow the individual from making a choice. It forces the individual to obey the methods it designs to keep one “safe” or suffer the consequences of its force. It blindly enforces these laws without due consideration as to the intent of the accused. It uses threats of imprisonment and financial ruin to force people into plea bargains they shouldn’t take or to steal from those who have labored hard. It lies to jurors when they are informed they need only judge the guilt or innocence of an accused, and not the fairness or worthiness of the law. It is this use of force, this abuse of power that rises the ire of the common man. It is this use of force that will lead to the abstruse shame of humiliation. It is this abuse of power and the helplessness one feels when put against it that can lead to utter despair and desperate loneliness. Fighting such a behemoth can certainly lead to the complete finality of loss and the perfect self absorption of self pity. Defeating it can most certainly lead to utter and complete joy. The former happens much more often than the latter. These actions brought upon individuals who have never harmed another, never damaged or desecrated someone else’s property, are callous and destructive. These actions creep into the bloodstream of the body politic and their poisonous nature spreads into the societal consciousness although most remain in denial. Nevertheless, the spirit of the society becomes affected. Some might call it collective karma, but I say it is a sickness of the soul that can only be cured by empathy and recognition of the psychological abuse that is occurring.
Government will also use its force on other governments. This is not necessarily wrong if done in self defense, when one government infringes upon the other by invading its territory. The problem exists with the government that initiates the force. The government who launches a pre-emptive war is the initiator. It subjects innocent civilians to the most barbaric conditions imaginable simply because one government believes its way of ruling over them is better than theirs. It visits upon the inhabitants of other nations terrifying death and destruction. It foments hatred amongst peoples by committing unspeakable atrocities and spewing propaganda to its own citizenry to dehumanize the enemy. It uses the propaganda of fear to fractionalize its own citizens against each other so that it may tighten its control over the populace. The spectre of war gives the government an excuse to vacate its recognition of god given human rights and violate them in the name of “protecting” its citizens. If one believes in karma, than war is perhaps the generator of more bad karma than any other human endeavor. But more than that, war will warp the spirit of an entire nation. The principles we hold dear are abandoned. Atrocities and other behaviors we would normally find repugnant are accepted as necessary. It is more important we as a society overcome our fear and adhere to our principles despite the perceived dangers or we become what we fear, we become as bad as the enemies we despise. When this happens, the enemy wins, if not militarily, then by simply making us change in profound ways. These changes eventually warp the spirit of the individual who is forced to participate, not only for those who actively participate, but also those who passively participate by paying for such operations or by simply remaining silent and compliant.
Politics, whether on a personal, business or national level, links to the spirit of the individual in ways hard to fathom and difficult to expound on. I have tried here to present some of my personal beliefs and how I feel politics and government affect the spiritual aspect of our existence. To me, the most important law is “Do no harm to others.” I am in no way claiming the above as statements of fact, nor am I asking anyone to believe as I do. I am sure there are some people who believe as I do and there are some who believe the above essay to be complete hogwash. I don’t believe we should sit by quietly any longer and just let the government run like everything is business as usual. We should speak up. I believe this is important not only for our posterity, but also for our eternal spirits. Hopefully I have given a few people something to think about and maybe even a little insight they might not have had before.