Sunday, October 30, 2011

Starhawk: #OWS Renews Our Faith in the Human Spirit

The right mix of politics and spirituality is a thorny question. I am utterly devoted to the notion of separation of church and state: it's clear to me that whatever mysterious personal beliefs people have, the law must remain absolutely secular. But at the same time I believe that the desire to fight for a better world, for social justice, comes from a profoundly spiritual place, and thus ultimately the morality informing secular law risks a slippery slope easily confused when the morality of liberation becomes blurred with the controlling dogma of a particular faith. All that said, I know that while my religious beliefs and at this point very occasional religious practices have very little to do with my politics, my spirituality is quite intertwined with a liberationist perspective in politics.

Many left-wing political activists dislike/fear/hate/oppose thinking about politics in a spiritual way, and I understand where they're coming from. But for all the social conservatism of today's evangelical Christians or the right-wing nihilism of fundamentalist political Islam, there is a long history of religious people being in the vanguard of social justice movements: a key example of which is the African-American civil rights movement which had an organic relationship with the spirituality and religious faith of African-Americans.

During my period of spiritual exploration after I withdrew form political activism, one of the most inspiring writers was the Neo-Pagan priestess Starhawk, especially her seminal work "The Spiral Dance." I was excited to read that Starhawk has been visiting a number of the Occupy Together encampments on the west coast. Some of what she's written on the subject of #OWS and this amazing movement that has materialized before our eyes I find quite inspiring:

From an article published in the Washington Post's On Faith column:

"What’s going on? Pundits splutter about the movement’s lack of ‘demands’ and coherent messaging, but sound bites and 10-point programs arise from central committees and top-down hierarchies. The Occupy movement demonstrates a very different model of organizing: emergent, decentralized, without a command and control structure. ...

[The demonstrations] all share a common heart, a revulsion against an economy and a politics that increasingly say, “You don’t count, except as something to exploit. Your voice is drowned out by money, your labor is expendable, your needs must be sacrificed to the gods of profit.”

At its essence, the message of the Occupations is simply this:

'Here in the face of power we will sit and create a new society, in which you do count. Your voice carries weight, your contributions have value, whoever you may be. We care for one another, and we say that love and care are the true foundations for the society we want to live in. We’ll stand with the poor and sleep with the homeless if that’s what it takes to get justice. We’ll build a new world.'....

The Occupy movement renews my faith in the human spirit, in our creativity, our craving for justice, our determination to root our world in love. So come on down! You are important. Your voice counts. You have a unique contribution to make. We are all the 99 percent."

And so taking a stand along with #OWS has a spiritual component: awakening our long-dormant hope and aspirations. Secular political savvy and a presence in the real world with its dangerous state repression is clearly the order of the day. But go ahead, arm yourself with spirit, too.

Starhawk has also been writing at great length in her personal blog on the Occupy movement.

News of Starhawk via The Wildhunt

1 comment:

  1. The Dalai Lama tweeted this not five hours ago: "It is necessary to help others in our daily lives, merely praying for them isn't enough."

    For me it pretty much says it all. A newborn baby cannot survive without tender loving care, it does not stop at a particular age, humankind throughout all the years continues to need TLC to survive.