OK. Read the paragraph below and answer the multiple-choice question below it. And don’t skip to the end of this post, where you’ll find the answer.
“Without a strong enough spiritual support, a great power will not last and will not be recognized and accepted by the world. The sympathy of souls is more powerful than the cold exchange of interests and is a footstone for the platform of trust and a foundation of the harmonious development, whether in the interpersonal relations or international relations.”
The above paragraph occurs in:
1.The New York Times
2. The Christian Science Monitor
3. The Chinese Communist Party's People's Daily
4. The Des Moines Register
I found that paragraph while searching for some spiritual relief from the current political climate that seems so lacking in decorum, restraint, honesty and fairness. I was feeling belittled by demagoguery from both sides, confused and just fed up. I was ready for a little “sympathy of souls,” as the above paragraph puts it.
So I went in search of some sign of “sympathy of souls”— some sign of spirituality in politics. Here’s some of what I found:
The Faith and Politics Institute. This group “strengthens democracy by bringing members of Congress and the public they serve together across differences of race, religion and political party in settings that promote understanding through dialogue and reflection.”
- To bridge the differences that arise in a thriving democracy
- To act with integrity and adhere to the highest ethical standards
- To promote a climate of trust and seek to earn the trust of others
Next I Googled “politics and spirituality.” First up was a nice article from the Center for Visionary Leadership, titled, “Spiritual Politics: Innovative Approaches” by Corinne McLaughlin. After pointing out the difference between spirituality and religion, she says, “In actual practice, true spirituality can ennoble politics and politics can ground spirituality. Spirituality can help people leave ego and power trips at the door and truly serve the good of others.”
She then quotes Mahatma Gandhi as saying, “I could not lead a religious life unless I identified with the whole of mankind, and that I could not do unless I took part in politics.”
McLaughlin later mentions Albert Einstein as pointing out that we can’t solve a problem on the same level of consciousness that created the problem. We have to find higher common ground.
Next up was a recent Huffington Post article by Russell Bishop, “Soul-Talk: Politics-Is There a Way Past Blame and Upset?” In the article he draws a fascinating line between what he calls “Self-Talk” and “Soul-Talk.”
“Self-Talk” is, to paraphrase Bishop’s description, one of limitation which revels in blame and attack, fostering a sense of being better than the “other,” while avoiding any personal responsibility, leading us into focusing on what is wrong instead of how to make things right.
“Soul-Talk”, on the other hand, "...Encourages us to return to our heart, to actually live our deeper principles, not as platitudes and moral imperatives but as dynamic realities made manifest in our thoughts, words and deeds.”
My quick search—about 30 minutes—for some “sympathy of souls” in politics revealed the random collection above; and I know there’s a lot more where that came from. There are people, probably a lot more than we hear about, who have grown weary of the politics of division and are in search of what Russell Bishop calls “the politics of the heart.”
Oh yeah, the answer to the question above is…..No. 3, The Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily, as reported by the Christian Science Sentinel, in its weekly “Items of Interest” column. It felt good to be reminded that spiritual thinking about politics not only transcends national political parties, but geo-political boundaries as well.
So even though we may have to search for it, there is such a thing as healthy politics. It’s all over the world. We can find it. And we can live it.