America the Beautiful

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hat a country! The mid term elections just completed (as of November 5, 2014), and cost a record near 4 billion dollars, including about $12 per voter each in Alaska, Iowa, and Arkansas. Voters in Kansas returned Governor Sam Brownback - despite the generally acknowledged failure of his tax cutting financial strategy that has emptied state coffers. Brownback’s opponent was leading in polls until a four million dollar infusion of funds during the final three months, plus the airing of TV ads that linked him to a Kansas Supreme Court decision to overturn death sentences in 2000 (He had nothing to do with that decision.) turned the tide. As one local aide quipped, “Hey, this is freakin’ Kansas, man!”

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy said, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Well, apparently we still are.

The quote immortalized Kansas not only a conservative state but as a symbol for “normalcy.” And, considering a plethora of other election results, it seems indeed that the majority of American voters have, in many instances, voted against forward progress. We wrote about this in our Dream book.

“How often do we hear exhortations to “get back to the basics,” to recover the values of “the good old days?” Garret Epps writes about this in “We the People (Utne Reader):

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mericans today are frightened and disoriented. In the midst of uncertainty, they are turning to the Constitution for tools to deal with crisis. The far right is responding to this demand by feeding their fellow citizens mythology and lies (about the Constitution).”

“…The most important truth about the Constitution is that it was written as a set of rules by which living people could solve their own problems, not as a “dead hand” restricting their options. Strikingly, many important questions, from the nature of the Supreme Court to the composition of the Cabinet, are left to Congress.

There’s ample evidence in the text that the framers didn’t think of themselves as peering into the future and settling all questions; instead, they wrote a document that in essence says “Work it out.”

The problem with “working it out” is that this requires flexibility and open-mindedness, qualities rarely on display in political campaigns where certainty and strength are valued over imagination and thoughtfulness, producing polarized partisanship with little room for actual discussion. But it’s that very capacity for being able to consider new possibilities and visioning something radically different that has always beat the heart of this country, known so affectionately by millions as America the Beautiful.

Now, that would be getting back to the basics, the values of the “good old days!”

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Those values are timeless. They include respect for each other, regardless of differing opinions and the willingness to help each other in times of need. Is this a time of need? Undoubtedly so. Will we help each other? That depends on whether we can embrace the true qualities invested in the foundations of this great nation or not. We may still be in Kansas in many ways, but are we still in America?

In our Dream book we wrote about what we termed “the awakening impulse,” referring to the spiritual revolution that is quietly occurring in millions throughout the world. You don’t find news of this anywhere in particular, but those of us participating know it’s happening.

One could submit that this is the same impulse that moved the founders of this country to leave the limitations of Europe, to adventure into a new land of opportunity, and to birth a very different kind of nation. Has that impulse created a Utopia? Hardly! But the story isn’t over.

Only about half of Americans were motivated to vote in the mid-term elections. For a host of reasons, they simply couldn’t be bothered. Like a famous piece of graffiti declared, “The problem with this country is apathy.” And, scribbled beside it, “Who cares?”

Who cares about their destiny? That’s what’s really at stake, personally. We vote every minute with our choices, to continue awakening to the truth of who we are - not through meditating in a cave somewhere, but through how we handle the details of the moment – or to sleepwalk through Kansas.

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e don’t need TV ads to convince us to wake up! And we don’t awaken under threats, not because of climate change, a stalled economy, etc. Issues aren’t the issue. Something wonderful is happening within us, within the human species, within all life forms, and we can’t control it. We call it the awakening impulse but another word is evolution. Life doesn’t stand still. Tomorrow is automatically richer than today, regardless of what happens with the ego-created economy. Abundance in every increasing measure is the nature of an expanding Universe, where we all belong without needing to deserve it.

Politicians urge us to vote for them, to support their policies for solving the crush of problems created by ignoring the way life works in favor of business-as-usual ego manipulation. In the quiet strength of our own hearts, we know this will never work. But we don’t lose faith, because we are already experiencing a very different kind of answer, one that doesn’t depend on votes. And, in the end, we can be grateful that, despite this country’s many shortcomings, it remains a place of promise… if we exercise our choice to stay true to that promise and personally participate in creating the ultimate fulfillment of America the Beautiful.

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