KK: Hi. My name is Kerri Kelly and welcome to another episode of CTZN Podcast where we are exploring a citizenship of solidarity and how we show up for each other.
Today we are talking with Marianne Williamson, spiritual activist, best selling author and total badass. What most people don't know about her is that she is a political powerhouse. In this episode, we're talking about the relationship between spirituality and politics, how to be a strong woman in today's world, and getting back to loving America again.
I call Marianne Williamson the matriarch of our movement because she's not just bringing it on the spiritual front, she is bringing it on the political front and blazing a trail for what she calls, "Integrative Politics", a politics that is rooted in love and humanity and what we are here to do for one another.
She is the author of 12 books, seven of which are on the New York Bestseller List. Her mega hit, Return to Love, is a must for anyone trying to understand love, which is everyone. And in it is one of my favorite quotes of all time, a quote that is often been miscredited to Nelson Mandela. But if you know her, and after you listen to this podcast, you can't deny, these are very much, her words.
They go like this: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the Glory of God that is within us." And it goes on from there.
But this quite has been so formative for me in my life, especially as a woman who has been trained and conditioned to be quiet, to small down, to not ruffle feathers, to be a good girl. And I've been reflecting on that since my conversation with Marianne, who I look up to as a strong woman, but who, as you will hear in this episode, has also experienced that stereotypical typecasting for being powerful. Whether it's being called a bitch, or bossy, or too aggressive for things that men would be rewarded for. But, we're at an inflection point I think, in our culture, where women are speaking truth to power no matter the name calling or the consequences, because what's at stake for our children and our humanity is just too high.
We can no longer negotiate truths or accommodate people's responses or contort ourselves into society's image of us. It's time to speak up, to step up and to show up for ourselves and one another and for the vision of this country that we all deserve.
Marianne is stopping at nothing in her pursuit of reclaiming American and I get the feeling that we all better buckle up, because she is going to lead us to a reckoning in this country that may be just in time.
Have a listen.
KK: Welcome Marianne Williamson.
MW: Thank you. I'm glad to be here.
KK: So when you ran for congress in District 33 in California, what year was that?
KK: 2014. A lot of people were excited that you were getting into politics, but you were hardly getting into politics. You've been in politics for a long time. But, we all start somewhere. And since the election a lot of people, especially a lot of people in our community, have been starting to see that the personal is in fact political, and have been leaning in and becoming more active in civic engagement and politics. So, can you share a little bit about your journey of becoming politicized in your life and in your spiritual practice?
MW: I don't see politics so much a part of my spiritual practice. I see it part of my human practice and I see my spirituality as about being human. I don't see spirituality as a separate category of existence. Here's relationships. Here's the body. Here's finances. Here's career and then over there is another category called spirituality.
KK: Right, like now I'm going to be spiritual.
Well, spirituality is the underpinning to everything else we do, because spirituality has to do with self identity. Who am I? What is my relationship to the universe? What is my relationship to the earth? What is my relationship to other people? What is my relationship to tribe?
So, if my relationship to one person matters, then my relationships to larger groups matter. If my relationship to my family matters, then my relationship to my community matters, and my relationship to my country matters and my relationship to my species matters.
So, you know the original Latin root of the politics mean "of the people." So, I don't get precious with words like "spirituality" and I don't get precious with words like "politics", getting in to politics, getting in to spirituality. I think seeing any of those things, those types of things as separate categories is delusional. It all has to do with who we are as people and the stand we take, on whatever meaning we ascribe to, and whatever values we believe in.
I grew up at a time where ... Because I remember ... I was born in the fifties, so I remember Bobby Kennedy. I remember Martin Luther King ... Well I remember Martin Luther King less. I remember the day he died very well. I remember Eugene McCarthy. I remember a time when we read ... Even when I was in college, you know, we read Rom Dos in the morning and we did the Iching and then we went to an anti-war protest in the afternoon. So, I lived at a time when there wasn't this separation between political activism and this burgeoning spiritual awareness.
After the assassinations, once they killed the Kennedy's and they killed Martin Luther King, and then particularly once they killed the kids at Kent State, there was this separation that occurred because it was as though the bullets that shot them, psychically shot everyone. There was a very loud unspoken message to those assassinations and the message was very clear. It was, "You will do whatever you want. Now, disperse. Do whatever you want in the private sector. But you will leave the public sector alone now. You will go home. There will be no further protest."
We live at a time where everybody likes to think they just invented something, right? This is not something new.
KK; The new politics.
MW: This is something that's been a little bit eclipsed and hidden for a while, but it's really the reemergence of a conversation which was already brilliantly and eloquently articulated by King, by Gandhi and by others who knew than an internal as well as external shift would be necessary in order to fundamentally change the world.
I think at this point, and I think that if Dr. King were alive he would agree, I think we are clearly at a point where it is as true now as it was in his time when he was dealing with racism and the underlying racism that was at cause in the institutional horrors, such as institutionalized white supremacy, segregation in the American south and so forth, that we need that metanoia now. We need that change of heart now, just as urgently or any external changes we make will not be fundamental.
You can't just water the leaves. If you want to heal a plant, to bring a plant back to live, you can't just water the leaves, you have to water the roots. And that is what's happening with our democracy and I think that the left is often far too focused on external issues. If we get it right with immigration or we get it right with the environment, or we get it right with food, or we get it right with income and equality or we get it right with education. But, there's an underlying problem, which has poisoned all those areas, which is basically the hostile corporate take over of our government. The under influence of money on our politics. The fact that we are willing to give short term economic gain to multinational corporations, to give those financial profits and short term gains precedence over the health and wellbeing of our own planet and our own children. That's the underlying poison. And we have to look into our hearts to see what's going on there. And there are so many issues that have to be looked at internally, I think, before we can address them externally in a way that fundamentally makes a change.
KK: Well and a lot of what you're naming, whether it's capitalism, white supremacy, colonialism, are all a part of our core wounds.
MW: Well yeah, but I'm not enroll ... You just said something that I'm not enrolled in. I'm not one of those people who sees capitalism in the same category as colonialism.
KK: Runaway capitalism.
MW: Yeah. Capitalism that has deviated from its ethical core. And some people would disagree. Some people think that capitalism is inherently evil. I don't. I think that it is a ... capitalism ... Even Adam Smith said that it cannot exist, it cannot thrive outside an ethical core. So, I don't ... I think it's the deviation of mono capitalism from and ethical core that is a problem.
And so, to really make a distinction there, talk about free market economy. I look at the way you're dressed. I look at the way I'm dressed. Let's not go pretending that we're not participating in-
KK: Steeped in this.
MW: A free market economy.
MW: And also let's not pretend that it would be a good thing if money stopped flowing. There's nothing beautiful or holy about bread lines.
So, I think that we need to have a sophisticated economic conversation and I think that people in the spiritual community ... There's a danger there of a rank hypocrisy if people who are buying $150.00 yoga pants are just glibly to riding capitalism.
Now one of the things that Gandhi talked about a lot, was how the economics of a nation should be just like the economics of a family. So, I don't think-
KK: I love that.
MW: It's something that we have to ... You know one of the things Gandhi said was that the idea that economics is a verifiable science is one of the great evils hoisted upon the human mind. We have been trained to think that, quote unquote, "economics", is this science that only a certain breed of people, of a certain kind of understanding could possible understand.
I think we need to bring it home. It has to do with how much should I charge for this product in a way that you get a benefit ... Like let's say if I write a book, okay? I'm a writer. So, when things work well, I put in a large amount of energy writing the book. The publisher puts a large amount of investment publishing the book and then the exchange of money has to do with somebody who buys the book, whose life, whose whatever they were looking for in buying that book, will be increased energetically because they bought it. So, when that works well, all three participants in the arrangements benefit.
KK: Benefit, right.
MW: That's economics. That's righteous capitalism right there. That's righteous free market right there.
So what do you think has gone wrong in capitalism that we've forgotten that?
Oh, what we've forgotten is whenever you are looking for ... When you see your fiduciary responsibility, which is the corporate matrix here, as the idea that your making more money is more important than the righteous balance of energy.
KK: Profit over people.
MW: Profit over people.
And I don't think profit has to be over people. Profit can be with people. There is such a thing as righteous economics. There is such a thing as a moral economy. I mean people have been talking about a moral economy since the nineteenth century.
Now, it's interesting because I think a lot of people who talk about a moral economy today, think ... You hear a lot of people talking about how we have a moral economy in a little town in Oregon. That people are real ... Most of the conversation about a moral economy right now, has to do with local economies. And I don't think we can afford to keep a conversation around a moral economy only in terms of local economies, because I'm sorry, it's too late in the game. It is a globalized economy.
But there is also such a thing that you know, we used to call it blood money. You simply don't do it if it's the wrong thing to do. You know one of the things you see in politics today, whether it has to do with the NRA, you hear this a lot of times about the NRA, but all kinds of issues, where politicians don't vote the way their own heart might dictate. They don't vote the way their own conscious might dictate. They don't even vote the way polls show the American people want them to vote because it would be risking their career.
Well, you know what I want to shout at the television sometimes? "What makes you different than any of the rest of us?" All of us have to make ethical decisions in our careers. All of us have to say at various times, "If I do this, I might lose my business. If I do this I might lose my job. But, it's the wrong thing to do. I'm not going to do it." That's when your society falls apart.
So, you can give it kind of term like spiritual, but I think that makes us too exclusive and a little too precious with ourselves. It's character. It's ethics. It's being a good person. When you're talking about something like a private prison industry, when you're talking about some of the ways that Big Pharma operates with the over prescription of antidepressants and so forth, you definitely have a situation that is blood money, because you're talking about how huge corporate interest look at certain areas of human despair and say, "I can make a profit center out of that." And that is evil.
But, I have to say, let's be careful with ourselves. It's easy for us to have that conversation, not as easy perhaps as it is for us to look much closer to home and see ways that people we know sometimes have conversations about what they could charge for something, as opposed to whether or not that particular exchange of energy financially is righteous and within a field that their heart really dictates, as opposed to whatever they can get.
KK: It reminds me of the concept of mutuality. Right? Like-
MW: It is the concept of mutuality. And this is where your spiritual metaphysical principle comes in. If you're only talking about a material world, then there are only so many pieces to the pie, the zero sum game. So, if you win, I lose. If I have more, you have less.
On the spiritual plane, there are infinite resources.
And to be honest, a high-minded conservative vision.
You know I do think, even though my ... When it comes to policy, I'm definitely a left-wing Democrat. There's no doubt about it, on policy. But in terms of ultimate vision, I think Eisenhower was correct when he said that the American mind that is best is both liberal and conservative. Because sometimes, really it is the Conservatives who in America today, who will at their best ... And I'm not talking about right wing craziness here. I'm talking about a high-minded conservative principle, which holds the space sometimes a little more, for how it is infinite what can come from human work, human effort, human inspiration and so forth.
KK: Well, and so let's talk about that concept of mutuality for a moment, because when I think about you know, the spiritual community, when I think about the political community, I think often what we see is a spiritual community that is so focused on self-seeking, self preservation and often neglects the collective and the whole. And Then often on the political side, we see the opposite. We see a focus on the collective and a neglect of the person, the individual and it's really a both, and at the same time, under the concept of mutuality.
MW: Well I have a couple things I want to say. One is, I have felt at Sister Giants, that the transformational community as you would say, coming to some of this stuff is wonderful because it's not jaded. It's not jaded. It's not cynical. I mean it's like I remember Chuck Lugar, looking at two thousand people going, "Who are you people?"
KK: Where did you come from?
MW: You know these lefties who are getting standing ovations from huge audiences and they're not used to that. So there, I think the fact that some many people are new to it is great, because they don't know what to be scared of, they don't know what to cynical about, they don't know what to be angry about.
On the other hand, I think that there is simply a conversation going on and it slows us down to be too into what community, etc. There's a conversation we have to have as Americans that I think no matter what side of the political spectrum we come from, whether we come at these things from a religious perspective, a spiritual perspective or just an ethical perspective, is something that the sophisticated person knows, and that is, something is politically wrong and something is culturally wrong.
You don't have to see this through a filter of any particular community. This is just obvious. Something is off. Something is off in policy and something is off in the very fabric of our society and how we treat each other. And I think where the conversation moves into a higher dimension is where we do point out the relationship between the two.
For 35 years I've had a career dealing with ... We say people don't come to me because things are going right. So people in crisis is a topic that has been the core of my work for 35 years, and I know that when your life is in crisis, you can't just fix it by changing things on the outside.
When you really crash, when you really bottom out, you have to look at who you are, what your values are, what your principles are and most particularly, where you haven't been living them and where you have to atone for your errors and seek to change.
But, I've also seen, and I think many people are ... This is what you were saying ... You know, just like years ago, people would take their messed up adolescent to therapy and say, "Fix my kid,", and the therapist would say, "Your child does not live outside the larger context of the family dynamic, so I can't just 'fix your kid'. How does the whole family work?" And I think that that's what we are beginning to see now, that you can't just address individual concerns when the individual is dwelling within a larger social system, which is so toxic and dysfunctional.
And you see this today. You know, I think that we have millions of Americans living in chronic economic trauma and to realize that the same ... All that a nation is, is a collection of individuals, so the same psychological, emotional, and spiritual dynamics that are at work, need to be investigated in order to heal one life, are at work and need to be investigated and navigated and healed in order to change a society.-
And that's what this conversation, the new conversation is. The new whole person politics.
KK: And I really resonate with what you were saying, because I didn't grow up in your era. So, I grew up in that era of separation.
MW: It was already separated.
KK: It was already ... There was already a rift and politics was other and it was dirty and it was broken, and so I've really had to reclaim politics and that has always happened for me personally, through those sort of, broken moments in my life where an aperture opened up for me to see my life in relationship to the whole in a different way. And that has always been when I have found your work. Whether that was after my divorce. That was the first time I picked up Healing the Soul of America. Or, quitting my job and starting a new career ... Like there were all of these moments that were either repairs that I was making in my own human being, or leaps that I was taking that allowed this new perspective to come in.
And I'm just thinking about, you know, I've been to Sister Giant, everyone of the Sister Giant's that you've had, and just this past year, you know you had, I think six or seven thousand people in 2017, come to this gathering to talk about what's happening in our country through the lens of humanity, to use your word. Not even from a spiritual perspective, but from a human perspective. And so something about what you're saying and the way that you're saying it in relationship to who we are as Americans and who we're becoming is resonating with people in a new way.
You know, six thousand people I think, is larger than even the Women's March Convention. I mean, that's an enormous amount of people, a lot of them new people to this conversation, coming together and learning from people like you, Bernie, Pramila ... You know, like all of these amazing political thought leaders. And so what do you think it is about the way that you're talking about politics that's seeping into people in a new and different way, that's a different kind of conversation?
MW: Well, first of all, I want to go back a little bit. When you said that ... And I really hear you about the generational shift, because you don't have the historical memory, institutional memory of a time when it was different.
KK: I mean, 9-11 for me was my big wake up call, because that's when I, that's actually when I had a literal experience of the world landing on my doorstep.
MW: Not just a little one.
KK: Big time. Yeah.
But I think it behooves us to see ... Well a couple of things. First of all, when my career started though, the AIDS crisis was there. So, even in my career as a teacher of the Course of Miracles, larger societal issues were always in front of me, because the AIDS crisis was right there when I first started lecturing. So, I never, even putting aside my historical memory, I never had an experience, even as a spiritual seeker later in my life, of the larger collective issues not impinging upon individual concerns.
I think two things need to be looked at when you say that the, quote unquote, "spiritual community" saw politics as "dirty" and over there. Two things-
Well I think everybody actually in my era had that experience or that perspective.
Yeah, so let's talk about why that is, because I think that needs to be addressed.
First of all, the fact that we stopped teaching civics. If you weren't taught civics, if you weren't taught what the Bill of Rights says, you don't know to be appalled when you start seeing it undermined. If you don't know American history, you don't know what a glorious story this is and you don't have a sense of your own responsibility to its furtherance. That's number one.
Number two, I feel very strongly that the primary paradigm in modern psychotherapy has done a lot of damage, because it has emphasized the idea that one's personal suffering stems mainly from one's personal circumstances. You go into a therapist's office and they say, "Well what's going on in your life?" All about you. And sometimes it's not just about you. It might be you, that your husband lost his job, but you can't address it deeply without realizing that your husband lost his job because of all these unfair, inequitable, unjust, economic forces. So, one of the things that the psychotherapist within that traditional paradigm in doing, is trying to make you feel better, which is particularly become horrifying in the last few years, as the baton has been passed to psychopharmacology. You're depressed about it, why don't you take this, which will only decrease, because you'll have this artificial sense that it's really okay, which will only decrease your motivation to work on the larger political, social, economic issues that need to be addressed in order for your husband to have a decent job.
KK: Right. It's contextual.
And then the other thing is just the basic sense of entitlement. And I think that entitlement has definitely been a part of this so called spiritual community has unfolded, including an anti-intellectual bent. I mean look, I write inspirational books, so it's not like I want people to read fewer of them, but there's more to read than just a self help book.
Pick up a freaking newspaper. Read what's going on. And we've fostered that. So, it's been very convenient for us to say politics is dirty and it's over there. That would be like my saying about someone with AIDS, "Oo, that sarchosy, Ew. I don't want to go there. That's really difficult to look at." Hello. You don't avoid the wound if you want to be a healer.
KK: Well, and I even think that culture of personal responsibility has really played into this shame paradigm that so many of us are caught in. That like, it's my fault, reinforcing that entitlement. It's my fault. Only I can fix it. I have to carry the burden or I have to disconnect and protect myself and it takes us away from moving towards one another.
MW: I'm Jewish and I was raised with Tikkun Olam, " to repair the world". That that's your responsibility. You have a larger responsibility than just yourself. You have a responsibility to your tribe, you have a larger responsibility to your culture, you have a responsibility to your country, you have a responsibility to your world. I feel sorry for people who are not taught that, because when you're not taught that, you don't know your place. You don't know your fundamental relationship.
You know, there's a line in the chorus where is says, "Do not look to yourself to find yourself because you are not there."
You know, when I think about what do we need to move towards-
KK: Relationship with others.
MW: Relationship with others.
Relationship. You don't find yourself by yourself. You find yourself in relationship to others. And a nation can't find itself by itself. It finds itself in relationship to others.
KK: Well that's why isolation is so dangerous, not just for ourselves but, collectively.
MW: That's right. Personally or politically. That's right.
For a nation to be isolationist is no less dysfunctional than for an individual to isolate. It's not a mentally healthy perspective or position.
Well, and it's why this trend of self-seeking, this obsession with this perfecting the self is so ironic, because we can't get to where we're going if we just go inside, we have to go toward another.
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KK: Okay, I want to shift gears. You recently posted on Twitter, this. "The old, I'm gonna call it paradigm, American women think, 'Wow, that seems crazy to me' but keep their mouth shut. The new paradigm is that American women think, 'Wow, that seems crazy to me,' and then they say, 'No.'"
And so I want to ask you about being a strong woman. Because I can relate to being an outspoken woman, but I've also been called a bitch. I've been called ambitious. I've been called aggressive. I've been made to feel unwelcome. I've been made to feel invisible and you too, move in male dominated spaces, whether it's politics or publishing or business. And so, how do we handle that? Right? There's this #MeToo movement, there's clearly this uprising of women reclaiming their voice and their place as a part of the whole. And yet, you know still in our culture, strong women are characterized as too aggressive, you know, too strong, too violent, I mean, all of the things.
So, how do you deal with that personally, and what do you think is our role as women to disrupt that? Because I also believe that our voice is really necessary and we kind of need to blow through that.
MW: That fact that our voices have been so systematically silenced for so many centuries has not only oppressed women, it has not only hurt women, it has hurt the world, because we are driving with only one light, rather than two headlights. So, it has hurt the entire world that history, modern history, has been forged with only a male dominated, rather than and equally shared perspective between men and women.
I've certainly been called a bitch, a lot. It's funny that you say that you've been called ambitious. If a man is called ambitious it's considered a compliment-
KK: That's right. That's right.
MW: So, I think that we all realize that there's an issue here, that quote, unquote, "strong women" are likely to be looked at a certain way and defined a certain way and described a certain way and criticized a certain way. Not just by men, by the way, but at least as much by other women, I am sad to say, as by men.
So, first of all, just us having that conversation right there, knowing that game for what it is, and speaking to it when we hear another woman criticized on that basis. Not shutting up right there.
I have always felt in my career, that I wasn't saying anything everybody I know wasn't saying, it's just I was saying it when the lights were on and the microphone was on. I have a career saying things that everybody I know is saying but they're saying it sort of in whispers or late at night on the phone and you hear people say, "That sounds crazy to me." If it sounds crazy to you, it's probably because it is crazy.
So, for instance, we have a head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt. And there is a particular pesticide, chlorpryphorous, something like that, and under the Obama Administration, because research strongly indicates that this pesticide does damage to children's nervous systems, their brains, during their developing years, all of the scientists at the EPA recommended permanent ban on this pesticide. When Scott Pruitt became head of the EPA, he feels that his advocacy on behalf of Dow Chemical and his serving the financial interests of Dow Chemical to make a profit on this pesticide, overrides the health needs of the American child.
MW: Now, what American woman wouldn't say, "That sounds crazy to me,"? Well don't just whisper it girls.
KK: Shout it from the mountaintops.
MW: Shout it. Shout it.
You know, when I turned 50, someone said to me, "50 is the age past you don't care what they think anymore." And it was funny because I remember her saying that because it was true. If something happens at 50, what are they gonna do? Throw eggs at me? Particularly, and I've had those eggs thrown at me, but particularly given what they're gonna do to some woman in some of these Middle East cultures ... What they're gonna do to them, hello, if they don't cover their face.
So, I always feel that I have to speak not just for myself, but for women all over the world that don't have a voice. But I'll tell you something even more powerful happens at 60. At 50, you don't care if they don't like it. At 60, you have to say it. It's kind of like when you have a child and the milk is coming out of your breast, it just has to express itself, and it's a beautiful analogy because your breast, your body has to nourish that child or it backs up in your body. And with age, we have to nourish the future or it back up in our souls.
That's why, and you and I have had this conversation, this ageism thing has got to stop. The older you are, the more you know some things and the younger you are the more you know some things. But, I think that the idea of the wisdom that emerges when you've been around for a while ... this isn't your first rodeo and you've seen how these things play out historically and it makes you less scared to say it, is so needed now.
KK: Yeah, it's so powerful.
MW: And I think young people need to see it modeled.
KK: I saw this headline the other day that said, "The Patriarchs are Falling but the Patriarchy is Still Very Much Alive."
MW: Yeah, I read that article. It's a Susan Faludi article.
I also think, I have been somewhat concerned with some of the #MeToo movement issues, because I think the power to accuse must be wielded mercifully.
KK: Well the finger pointing isn't actually getting at the cultural problem, it's just taking down-
MW: That, too. That, too. I think both things. That article that you just referred to was more what you just said, but also I think we need to remember that some of the men being accused ... And in her article she talked about how much easier it is to just point your finger at the patriarch, rather than do this sort of less sexy work-
KK: Yes, the insidious work.
MW: Well, of dismantling the insidious systems, but also I think we want to remember that when you do attack someone, this is someone who as a family, this is someone who has children, this is someone who has to make a living and so forth. So, I think that formally disempowered people and you see this on an individual basis. I've see it in my own life. It has to do a lot with the bitch thing you were talking about.
When you, either in your life or in the life of your gender or the life of your tribe, whatever, have had to not speak your truth for hundreds of years ... or even if it's decades in your own lifetime, there is a tendency when you first speak your truth, to speak it more forcefully, more aggressively, perhaps more angrily, than is necessary and I think maturity in a movement as well as in an individual's life, it's an art form. But, when you learn ultimately, I'm not going to eat my truth, I am going to speak my truth, but I'm going to speak it with grace and kindness. I'm not gonna shut up, but neither am I going to use it as a way to bludgeon you.
That's when you know you've reached a mountain top of self development.
KK: And there's space for both accountability and redemption.
MW: That's exactly it. And when you even use a phrase like accountability and redemption, the very fact that you're using the redemption, means that you understand that there must be mercy and there must be grace.
KK: So you are going around the country this year with a tour called Love America. What can we expect from this tour and what are you hoping to accomplish?
Werner Erhard once said, "You can live your life one of two ways. You can live your life according to circumstances or according to a vision." And when it comes to politics, we are stuck at the level of circumstance and that's not the way to live a life because it leaves you without a deeper understanding of where you're coming from and it leaves you without a deeper understanding of where you want to be going.
The deepest level of understanding is the level of story. When I was little, I went to camp and I come from Texas. And I remember a woman who said to me when I got to camp, "Who are your people honey? Where do you come from?" And that was very typical of the time and the place. "Who are your people honey? Where do you come from?" And a lot of times we ask ourselves, "Who are my people? Where do I come from?" And we think in terms of our ethnicity. We think in terms of our sex. We think in terms of our sexuality. We think in terms of our religion. But, we do not have a deeper conversation today for the fact that we're American and we come from America.
If you're African American, you're the African and the American. If you're a Jewish American, you're Jewish and you're an American. As women, we are women. We're white or we're black. We're gay or we're straight. But we're always American, and when it comes to our identity as Americans, they tend to be separated into two categories, both blinded by their own filter.
One is this superficial faux patriotism, "Rah, rah, rah," that completely refuses to look at America's shadow, where we've gotten it wrong, where we need to atone, where we need repair, where we need to make amends, where we need to pay back.
But then there's another, opposite perspective, which is just as blind. People who have become so cynical and so angry and so concentrated on the places where America has gotten it wrong, that they have no recognition of the larger story, which includes the larger story of struggle, which, ends up minimizing and dishonoring the memory of our ancestors who have addressed those wrongs and made them right in their time.
The truth of the matter is, America is a glorious story. You know, when you look at the founding of this country ... And I understand that Jefferson owned slaves and I understand that Washington owned slaves. We do not look at those signers of the Declaration of Independence and look to them as personal role models, but to look at them without deep respect for the principles that they nevertheless bequeathed to us, is simply blindness about history. I mean, it was based on those principles that Martin Luther King argued civil rights. It was based on those principles that abolitionists argued that slavery therefore should not exist. It was based on those principles that women got suffrage. If they established the principle that all men are created equal, and that God created all men equal, that larger, deeper, philosophical underpinning, all men are created equal. That's why you can have slaves. That's why women get the right to vote. That's why we can't have segregation. That's why gay people should be able to marry, and so forth.
And if we are ... And the principle of E pluribus unum, that out of many, we're one, that's where Identity Politics needs to remember the Unum part. It's not just your color. It's not just your ethnicity. It's not just your culture. It's this underlying connectivity without which we are not dwelling in our wholeness, either individually or as a nation.
So, I'm a romantic about American history and I think the left too often acts like it's too cool to be patriotic, or too cool to talk about issues of morality, when traditionally, the left did talk about issues of public morality. Poverty. Poverty is a moral issue. Economic injustice is a moral issues. Mass incarceration is a moral issue. Environmental desecration is a moral issue. These issues that we think of often as progressive issues, shouldn't even be seen as right or left. Not in terms of what the issue is. They should be seen as a family conversation that we need to be having.
And the very founding of this country, the overthrow of aristocracy ... once again, if kids aren't taught this, if you're not taught civics, if you're not taught history, I want to have this conversation, because to me it's a romantic conversation. It's a beautiful conversation, that before the founding of this country within the western world, the idea of a monarch, the idea of an aristocrat ... I remember when I was little girl I remember being taught that the French king was considered the Sun King, the divine right of kings. That the paradigm ... This is so profound ... That the paradigm was that God gave the king the divine right to rule, and so all of the major resources of the country, by law and by tradition, were in the hands of the king or the king's cronies or the aristocracy and nobody else had any right to ownership of land, had any right to education, had any right to wealth creation or opportunity and had no right to believe that their children could do any better.
The founding of this country, ideationally, philosophically, completely reputed that paradigm. Now you can say, "Yeah, but they didn't live it." Well, duh. You're just new to history class so you think this is like new? The point is that American history and the trajectory of American history has been one in which generation after generation, there have been those who saw that idea, that in this country it wouldn't matter who your parents were, it wouldn't matter your class, it wouldn't matter anything, that you, too, could have an education. You, too, could create wealth. You, too, could own. You, too, could better your life. Self actualize.
This idea of American democracy is so radical ... And we still haven't fully embodied it, obviously... It is not only radical politically, it is radical philosophically. It is radical spiritually. It is really the idea that self actualization should be possible for everyone. That's a holy idea. And the founders said that. God created it that way.
Well, in every generation there have been those who have been seized by that. On fire with that possibility. Lived for that possibility. Struggled for that possibility and in some cased, died for that possibility.
And then there have been those who said, "Oh, let's not." And FDR called them economic royalists. Bernie Sanders called them economic royalists. They basically really believe, and this is what we really need to understand ... First of all, that contest is as alive today as ever and today the new aristocracy, we have subconsciously reverted to an aristocratic paradigm.
KK: That's right.
MW: You can call in corporatocrisy, oligarchy, plutocracy ... It's the same old thing coming back around again. And just like aristocrats of old, they honestly, honestly, sincerely believe, that it's the better way to run a country.
So, the contest is not new. But, when you look at it only from a cynical perspective, cynicism is just an excuse for not helping. You know, in Judaism, there is a saying, "Every generation must rediscover God for itself." And that's what's happening in America. We have to fall in love with this ideal again. We have to recognize the profounditiveness. It's not just about you getting what you want, or about me getting what I want. It's about living in to a possibility for everyone.
You know, even in feminism and sisterhood, I think we always need to always remember, that feminism lacks meaning outside the recognition that sisterhood is part of it. It can't just be that I get what I want. It's that we get. And so if I'm not supporting other women, it's not enough that I'm saying, "Well as a feminist, I deserve."
I started noticing, many years ago ... Because I love American history and I think it's such an amazing story spiritually and philosophically, I started noting years ago, that when you talk to an audience on July 4th ... And John Adams said he hoped that July 4th would be a day when Americans would revisit first principles ... I notice when you talk to Americans, I don't care if we're on the left or the right, Americans have an instinctive understanding that this country has a covenant with history. And I notice people's eyes. They want to hear. They don't remember what they learned in school or they didn't learn it in school, that God created all men equal. E plurbis unum. That religious freedom ... You know we learned it when we were kids. People came over here because they couldn't practice their religious freedom.
Well, there are two ways of looking at it. One is, the fact that Trump is anti Muslim is disgusting. But then there's an even deeper way of looking at it, which is we don't do that here. Religious freedom is a pillar of American democracy. It doesn't matter if you like Muslims. It's just like it doesn't matter if you like gay people. In America, all people are create equal, all people endowed by God with the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, whether you like them or not, the Constitution and the Declaration declare that they have an inalienable right to pursuit of happiness. And so you take it beneath just the personal. It's not about whether you like that religion or not, it's that religious freedom is a pillar of American democracy.
KK: It's fundamental.
And as a nation as well as an individual, you can't just live according to your circumstances, you have to live according to your values. Another value in America is that the government is supposed to broker the interest of individual liberty with a concern for the common good. That's how our constitution is written. So, if you don't know that, then the fact that the government is basically bought and sold in this system of legalize bribery by corporate interest, as opposed to concern for the common good, you don't even know to be upset by it.
KK: It's unconstitutional.
MW: You don't even know to say, "Whoa, that's not what we do here."
KK: That's right.
MW: And then of course the last one is one that was not in the Constitution or the Declaration, but was articulated by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address, and that's that "a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, will not perish from the earth."
Well let me tell you something, if we don't act and act somewhat quickly, it's about to.
KK: Well, and I think that it's profound that you're centering love in this story, because I think that there's a lot of expressions of activism in politics, even on the Left side, or the Progressive side, that leave love out.
Ah. Every bit. Let us not kid ourselves. A smug, self righteous, vicious left winger is no less frightening than a smug, self righteous right winger.
I'm gonna tell you something that happened to me not long ago. I put on my ... I have a girlfriend who is a Trump supporter and she's a close girlfriend and we've kind of navigated this by, for the most part, we just don't talk about politics. And she had asked me to post on my social media about a skin care line that she is promoting. And I thought, "Well, how am I gonna do this on Twitter. My Twitter is really serious and I can't promote skin care," etc. So I thought, "Okay. I'll take a picture of her with her skin care and put it on Instagram and make a little comment about how Alana is a Trump supporter and I'm not, but we're girlfriends and one thing we can agree on is collagen."
I saw that.
I thought it was light and breezy.
Well did you see the comments?
I did not.
Some people were like, isn't that cool? They've carved out this sacred space for their friendship where they're protecting that. And other people, some people, were so vicious and making comments and casting aspersions that were so dark that I ended up having to ... I just took the whole thing down. It just was not helpful. But, I saw that and I ... You know, Gandhi said, "The end is inherent in the means.Vicious, hateful people will not bring peace to the world."
And I talked about that in Return to Love, that if we have bombs going off in our head that we're lobbing at other people, we're hawks, we're not doves. So, that's that place, the intersection of the personal and the spiritual and we can resist. We can passionately resist. We can passionately work in repudiation of authoritarian policies, without personally demonizing anybody.
KK: Well, and we can be angry.
MW: Well that's a word. You know, moral outrage. I don't feel moral outrage is born of anger. It's born of a fierce impulse within the human being to protect life. You know, there is a common anthropological characteristic of every mammalian species that survives and thrives, is the fierce behavior of the adult female of that species when she senses a threat to her cubs.
So, if I see a lion or tiger or a bear going after anybody or any animal that comes after their cubs, do we look at her and say she has anger issues and she's strident and she needs to do some personal work on her anger? Or do we say she is serving the impulse of the propagation and the survival of her species.
KK: That's right.
MW: And any species that does not protect its young, is not displaying, for all intents and purposes, the intention to survive. So, if I'm saying, "Stop right there Scott Pruitt. You are not. I will not have ... I will do anything I possible can to stop you from allowing the distribution and the manufacture of that pesticide that will hurt the brains of a human child", then you're going to call me an angry bitch? Which is a very big issue for women because, "Oh, I want to be a nice girl."
You know, a meaningful life is not a popularity contest and you know, if we're really gonna be in leadership positions, the real leader is not a people pleaser.
KK: What is your vision? Where are we going? Like what keeps you going in the relentless path that you've chosen for love and justice?
MW: In the Course in Miracles, it says that God has the answer to every problem the moment the problem occurs. So, from a spiritual perspective ... And this is where the deeper spiritual conversation to me, does come in. It comes into strategy ... So, there are two ways of living your life and this has to do with both our individual, as well as our collective movements forward.
One is, you have to bring a ... Think of your mind and your life as a computer and you have to bring down a blank document and figure out what to do. The other is that there is an undeleteable file you can call it God's will, God equals love, will means thought, whatever. It's divine architecture. Just like the acorn already has within it the program to become an oak tree. The embryo has within it the program to become a baby. You and I have within us, the program to become the women we're capable of being and the species has within us the programing to have Heaven on earth, basically. A world at peace and so forth.
The difference between us and the acorn is free will means we can say yes or we can say no.
KK: Right. We can choose it or we can-
MW: Now the beauty of the idea that God has an answer to every problem the moment the problem occurs ... This is where you really bring in the spiritual. Or love has the answer, whatever language ... Is the idea that I can't fix it. You can't fix it. He can't fix it. She can't fix it. But in collaboration, with each other, we will, as we allow ourselves to be guided, not just to try with a strategic mind, but to be guided ... So you need prayer and meditation. You have to go beyond the mortal mind, you will be guided. You will be led into kind of personal purification, of fear-based thought forms etc, and at that point, as the Course of Miracles says, "You not be alone, for you will be joined by might companions."
So, you find yourself meeting other people who are bring their skill set, their expertise, and you find yourself in a matrix, in a network of human interaction, where you're not just hanging out with people. You are brought together with people to collaborate in this very exciting, collective effort at bringing forth a goodness that none of us alone can bring forth.
And that's what the sixties had. It was a sense that we were all doing something together and I think that, that's in the air again today and it's about time.
KK: We are re imagining a citizenship where everyone belongs. And that calls us to fight for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US. Among them, 800,000 young people are living in fear because of the DACA crisis. An attack on immigrants is an attack on all of us. We need to fight to keep our families together and ensure the wellbeing of everyone. Please make it a practice of your citizenship to demand permanent protection, dignity and respect for our undocumented communities.
You can learn more about how to engage and fairimmigration.org and unitedwedream.org.
KK: While this podcast is coming to an end, our work in the world is just beginning. This week's call to action is to participate in democracy. Marianne is hosting online webinars called Democracy Calls and she's touring the country with the Love America tour, discussing how a revolution in consciousness paves the way to both personal and national renewal. You can find out more at marianne.com.
Special thanks to our producer Trevor Exter and DJ Drez, for the amazing soundtrack. You can check out his music at djdrez.com and thank you for being here today. You can stay in the know and engaged by subscribing to our weekly newsletter Well Read at ctznwell.org. CTZN Podcast is community inspired and crowd sourced. That's how we keep it real. Join our community on Patreon for a little as $1.00 per month, so that we can keep doing the work of curating content that matters for citizens who care.
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