Sustainable Politics through Love – thoughts on Sister Giant (part 1)

Love restores the bottom line, and not the other way around. ~Marianne Williamson

The weekend after our presidential election, I had the great fortune (with some help from my friends and a fundraising site called gofundme.com – check out my site here) to go to Los Angeles for the Sister Giant Conference on Women, Non-Violence, and the Birthing of a New American Politics. “The purpose of SISTER GIANT weekend was to help create a new conversation in American politics, one in which principles of higher consciousness form a new foundation for political involvement.”

I am still trying to find the language for what I felt that weekend—and how to combine politics and spirituality (for me, spirituality boils down to common sense compassion) in a powerful way. So many healers, teachers, and artists have positive impact on individuals in our lives—and so many of us want to be part of a bigger solution, but don’t know where to begin, or, are completely turned off by politics. Most of us do charitable work, but no amount of private charity can make up for lack of social justice. Over the last few years, I have witnessed and experienced the political as personal, and I can’t lie back and close my eyes any longer. This is why I am looking for my voice, and sharing as I go.

Love restores the bottom line, and not the other way around. ~Marianne Williamson

The weekend after our presidential election, I had the great fortune (with some help from my friends and a fundraising site called gofundme.com – check out my site here) to go to Los Angeles for the Sister Giant Conference on Women, Non-Violence, and the Birthing of a New American Politics. “The purpose of SISTER GIANT weekend was to help create a new conversation in American politics, one in which principles of higher consciousness form a new foundation for political involvement.”

I am still trying to find the language for what I felt that weekend—and how to combine politics and spirituality (for me, spirituality boils down to common sense compassion) in a powerful way. So many healers, teachers, and artists have positive impact on individuals in our lives—and so many of us want to be part of a bigger solution, but don’t know where to begin, or, are completely turned off by politics. Most of us do charitable work, but no amount of private charity can make up for lack of social justice. Over the last few years, I have witnessed and experienced the political as personal, and I can’t lie back and close my eyes any longer. This is why I am looking for my voice, and sharing as I go.

Marianne Williamson takes over the stage at Sister Giant with her huge presence

The energy at the Saban Theatre on Saturday morning was overwhelming. The place was packed. So many of us from all over the country arrived with open hearts and minds that just coming together shifted us. The air felt electrified. Marianne Williamson was a powerhouse as she walked onto the stage in a blue dress and platform red heels. She kicked ass! She started out by saying, “Gandhi said, Politics should be sacred.’ And like Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King successfully advocated – Love needs to be a broad scale social and political force.”

We’ve got some issues to contend with – a big one even George Bush pointed out – “America is addicted to oil.” I have thought America is an addict many times, and may have shared my thoughts with a few friends, and here was Marianne opening the weekend with this statement, “The United States is a highly functioning addict, the survival of the United States is in peril, and if we do not change, we will die. We need to take a moral inventory of the United States — we need a 12-Steps of the U.S.”

What power restores us to sanity? Love.

Gandhi and Martin Luther King saw Love as a force of non-violence inside the heart of every man, women, and child – a force that would heal political and social relationships. Love restores reason, and Marianne makes a powerful argument that “Love is the only survivable option for the human race.”

For part of the weekend we looked at three topics that could be considered the United States’ “dirty little secrets”. (To go back to the 12-Steps, there is a saying, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.”) The discussions were dark, and some made me squirm and sweat with discomfort (close to home), but also inspired me, too.  If we can really look at and sit with the dark, then it is easier to hold our ground in love and compassion when society would want to sway us otherwise.

Marianne asked us to practice Satya Graha – the willingness to bear the agony of others — and to promise to stick around no matter how uncomfortable it might get.

We focused on three issues over the weekend, along with a few statistics for each:

Child Poverty

  • 17,000 children die of starvation everyday
  • Less than 1% of federal funding goes toward funding of poverty reduction around the world (most Americans think it is 25% to 30%)
  • 46 million Americans live in poverty – 16.1 million are children
  • 1 in 4 children in the US are hungry
  • The United States has a 23.1% child-poverty rate, among 35 developed nations, we are ranked second to the worst, just one above Romania

Something to think about: Large groups of desperate people are dangerous.

When the babies are hungry, and your breasts are full of milk, you don’t sit around discussing policy, you feed the babies!

Mass Incarceration

  • We are 5% of the world’s population, yet we have 25% of the world’s prison population.
  • The United States currently has more citizens incarcerated than any nation in history and more than 30 European countries at one time
  • Most people are in prison for non-violent crimes – the War on Drugs created the shift. In 1982 only 2% of the people in the country even thought drugs was an issue.
  • Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics use drugs at the same rate, though Africans Americans and Hispanics are more likely to be targeted for prison
  • A young black man currently living in Chicago is more likely to go to prison than to college.
  • There is a direct correlation with education cuts and higher rates of people in prison
  • Once out of prison for a felony, a person: cannot vote, cannot get housing, cannot get jobs (have you ever had to “check the box” for a conviction?), cannot get food stamps, cannot get student loans.
  • 1 in 7 African American men cannot vote
  • Building prisons is the single largest urban industry in the United States

Something to think about: How can you be an effective member of society if your rights as a citizen can never be restored? How will you not end up back in jail? How is it not dangerous for a society to have large groups of people who have nothing to lose?

Citizens United

  • Current Supreme Court has ruled that money is free speech – which means, if you have no money, you have no speech.
  • SuperPacs raised hundreds of millions of dollars to win the election. They aired 90,000 commercials against Barack Obama in West Virginia.
  • The influx of money from out of state is having a dramatic effect on smaller local elections, which means that special interest groups who don’t even live anywhere near a community can shape the politics and policies of that community

Something to think about: Elections are the will of “We the People”. If Corporations are “people”, then who are “We the People”? How is it sane that companies and people are spending all this money when so many children are starving?

What does your heart tell you when you read about these topics? What action does your heart initially tell you (before the mind jumps in and tells you there is nothing you can do)?

Before we launched into the topics, lecturer and author Charlene Spretnak discussed her research in health and relational physiology. Why this discussion? Because “women tend to perceive the interrelatedness, or the gestalt, of a situation much more than do men; this is a skill that is badly needed in public office!” Why this discussion before the heavy topics? So we could keep in mind that a feminine worldview does have value and power and that our view not only matters but is essential.

Spretnak talked about how a holistic relational worldview (naturally feminine) is becoming more widely accepted in medicine, science, and education. More hospitals are using integrative medicine (yoga and reiki are part of the integrative medicine model in more and more hospitals now), the entire field of microbiology has moved off the mechanistic model to a model of interrelatedness, and relational physiology is a growing field. She shared several examples of how people who have community and strong relationships get sick less and live healthier, happier, and longer lives.

Basically, a relational worldview has life!

The public sphere evolved to become more comfortable to the male psyche, or, a structured, mechanistic view. While the rest of the world is moving forward with a relational model, politics is lagging. The mechanistic view is important, it helps us to categorize and name what is what, but it is a viewpoint that forgets about humanity. Parts are not alive, they are just parts. 

Spretnak calls on us to have confidence in the fact that relational reality is our language. Her message: You don’t have to change to be powerful, BE WHO YOU ALREADY ARE!

I became very excited over Spretnak’s findings, because part of my theory for why we are alive, and how we will survive, is through relationship. I wrote a piece called Beauty and the “What is Sustainability?” Question. Beauty, according to Plato, is that which makes us want to live.

Plato said the only real thing in the universe is Beauty. The far-eastern Vedics said the only real thing in the Universe is Brahma, and that all else is Maya, or illusion. They are talking about the bliss of realizing we are One with everything, of experiencing such completeness that we lose our Selves. It is as if the body becomes a string that sets to humming as it resonates with the vibration of life. Beauty is relational. The relationship is based on harmony that brings about a loss of ego – moments of just “be”-ing are “be”-autiful. The experience of beauty extends beyond the self and out into the world, as well as arising from the cosmos to the self (and the rest of the world).

I am convinced that love has got to be the bottom line in politics, and I do know that we need more heart-centered people to be public in their efforts. Love is the bottom line — but we will be tempted to forget. It can be difficult to be fully invested in the effort but unattached to the results.  If it’s not running for office (even local office) – then we need to bear our gifts (women and men!) to the world as healers, artists, writers, speakers, inspirers and supporters!  We need to help people remember our humanity and compassionate common sense! We need to realize, and to remind one another, and to continue to make love the bottom line.

Martin Luther King, Jr – photographer unknown

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

So much was discussed over the weekend, from problem-solving, to campaigning for office, to how to be a powerful speaker, to being a support for someone campaigning, to the whole system being in a cosmic transition—that I will have to continue writing on this topic in another article. With the lunar eclipse today emotionally processing the angry feminine solar eclipse energy from two weeks ago, Pluto in Capricorn, and Saturn in Scorpio, I thought shining light on some dark energy seemed appropriate. What topics move you? 

If you are interested, Marianne has created Sister Giant National Conversation. The first discussion is on December 5th, 9 pm EST. “Our Monthly conference calls will feature compelling guest speakers, updates on campaigns and issues we care about, and the creation of a space to engage in conversation around national and global peace, non-violence and politics.  Our goal is always the same: how to make love the bottom line. All are welcome to join!”

  1. very moving Sister! I could feel the energy of the weekend in the way you paced your post. The statistics are intensely alarming,,, all of them! Love is truly the only way forward, it always has been but has never been valued. I teach yoga in Prison and it’s like being in a place where love was forgotten. I see my job as a beacon for pulsating compassion and I know that with every session they feel empowered with it. Life is indeed about the realisation that we are ONE. The old yogis got it, see the divine in everything! God is that ex-con that needs a home and food and LOVE and just maybe that is enough to resurrect a person of truth and integrity… or maybe the next President! sending masses of LOVE!

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    1. Namaste ~ Good MOrning!

      Thank you for the work that you do.

      I wrote this piece for a friend to put in his newsletter – and as I began to write, I realized there was no way I could write a short article. I woke up this morning thinking – I need to revise that article a bit, mix in more of my own experience and yogic principals. Sometimes things have to stew before you add extra spices.

      There are so many more statistics, especially regarding prisons, that are baffling and alarming. (For instance – it costs 100 million dollars to build a new prison. For the last 23 years, California has spent 100 million dollars a year building prisons. That’s just California!)

      “God is that ex-con that needs a home and food and LOVE and just maybe that is enough to resurrect a person of truth and integrity . . . ” The ancient Greeks would say treat that beggar at your door like a King or Queen, you ever know – they just might be a God. (And of course they are God, because we are all God).

      I have been thinking about teaching yoga and writing in prisons. How did you get involved?

      Om shanti – Holly

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