I’ve said before, “We can’t birth a new world using the tools of the old.” We are seeing numerous examples of this as we humans move along in the birthing of a new age.
Life as we knew it is changing. Yes, the nature of life is constant change, but the magnitude and quality of the changes through which humanity is passing is different than in the past.
We see mass movements of, “the people,” in countries in Africa and the Middle East where governments and regimes have been marked by repressive, autocratic, and dictatorial systems. Aided by the swift and almost ubiquitous communications of social networking, people organized themselves to not just show displeasure, but to stare down the bullies and thugs that were their leaders until those leaders blinked and stepped aside, as in Tunisia or Egypt, or revealed themselves to be psychotic brutes as in Libya.
In Europe, educated, underemployed, and concerned citizens have also taken to the streets to demand justice be served upon those whose criminal activities helped shatter economies. However, in the U.S., those who rigged the rules, flouted their cozy relationships with regulators and governments, and pilfered billions from individual pensions by way of the artificial real estate bubble not only walk free, they paid themselves record bonuses and continued to pour money into the pockets of politicians who promised to weaken even the modest reforms passed in the last two years. No protests, no gatherings of the newly-unemployed, just more fear about losing more ground.
We see newly-elected Republican governors and legislators openly attacking the last working people with any real voice and influence: public-sector union members. As a country, we say we value education, but begrudge teachers anything other than slave wages. We say we value healthcare, but allow insurance companies to keep us from creating a healthcare system that reaches all citizens and expect nurses to allow their collective union voice to be silenced. We see a Wisconsin governor concerned about, “advancing the cause,” and not serving his citizens.
It took this last act to push Americans into mass protests against those who already have the power and a voice at the table … the very wealthy who control 99 percent of our economy. In a rather stunning and callous miscalculation, Governor Walker targeted those public-sector unions that historically support the Democratic party and exempted those that supported his party, namely police and firefighters. However, the latter joined the protests because they recognized they would be next. If a state can destroy collective bargaining by one group of unions, all unions could lose the right to collective bargaining.
When I was younger, I remember a conversation about the pensions paid to retired civil service employees. Someone said they were excessive, but someone else supported not just the pensions, but unions for such workers by saying, “would YOU want to work for the government your whole life?” The salaries are lower than in the private sector, the work can be harder, and yet, there was, and is something honorable about working for the rest of us. So, yes, after working for an agency of the government, it was and still is appropriate for pensions and benefits to be fair since those workers work for all of us.
I challenge students, and now extend this to everyone, to truly follow through with their beliefs. If they believe unions and collective bargaining are not good, then do not accept anything that has come to pass because of unions. This includes the weekend, or any day off at all apart from a half day on Sunday and perhaps a full day off on Christmas or Thanksgiving Day. It includes a work day shorter than 14 hours long. It includes any safety gear. It includes child labor. It includes health insurance.
The protests against draconian destruction of collective bargaining are just the latest in a cultural war that has continued since the first union action over 100 years ago. The Cause of Governor Walker, the Kochs and other oligarchs and autocrats, Wall Street, the Republicans party is the same as the cause of the Rockefellers, the JP Morgans, the mine and factory owners, etc. Collective bargaining forced them to adopt practices of fair pay, fair and safe working conditions, and yes, spreading the wealth downward from the robber barons to their workers.
The rich have never voluntarily taken any action that helps the society in which they live or the lives of their workers. Philanthropy aside as it’s motivated more by a need to game tax laws or for public relations than by any genuine desire to help create a viable middle class or to improve the lives of the poor, the rich seek only to gain more wealth.
As the abomination that is the corporation has become the dominant social, political, and cultural entity on the planet today, this gathering of wealth by the wealthy has only accelerated. Since the corporation is motivated only by quarterly profits, when the cost of labor in one part of the world becomes high enough to begin the creation of a middle class, the corporation seeks out a labor market that is less costly. We have seen American manufacturing jobs move first to Mexico, then to the, “Asian tigers,” and finally to China where the massive population can provide very low-cost labor in very unsafe factories for decades to come as the totalitarian government ensures worker compliance with corporate needs.
What then is this spreading desire among, “the people,” for democracy? It is for a voice in the decisions that affect everyday lives. In the U.S., “the people,” still have the legal right to gather in mass groups to express their opinions even though this right was strongly attacked by the corporate-aligned administration that preceded the current administration. It has taken unemployment at just under 10 percent, ongoing pillaging of the economy by criminals who clearly believe they are above any law, and the nihilist, neo-feudalist efforts to complete the destruction of collective bargaining rights to get Americans to move into the streets.
But, there is more here than commercial, fiduciary, economic, labor, or governmental concerns. There is a profoundly deep desire for a better world: for less competition, not more; for greater fairness, not less; for more equality, not more elitism; for shared governance and responsibility, not top-down orders and demands for obedience.
The great conflict in human societies over the past two millennia has been over the answer to this question, “what is the source of power?” For most of this time, the answer has been a divinity, a dynasty “blessed,” by a divinity, a bully who’s better at killing than his opponents, families descended from the aforementioned bullies, impersonal entities, and the state and all the variations of governments that place the state above the individual.
Then came the Enlightenment and its ideals codified into the U.S. Constitution. “We the People,” was and remains a radical idea, particularly when the individuals who make up, “The People,” start to realize they each and separately are the actual source of power.
At this time, there is a genuine increase in spirituality, not religion, that supports not only the individual and his or her full potential and power, but also recognizes that it is only when each person freely shares all they are and can be with everyone else, that each person achieves true power. We don’t lose independence or potential or power by sharing with others, we gain independence, potential, and power. We are interdependent and not because we are coerced by law or dogma, but because when we share what we have, we receive more than we give. The duality that says if one has power then one must give up power is false. The entire system of duality that has limited humanity for most of our history is beginning to be seen as the falsehood it is.
Thus, the vertical orientation of power through dictators, autocrats, oligarchs, and neo-feudalists is coming apart because real power comes from each person and, The People. It’s not pretty, but the extremes have to be seen before the spirit moving through humanity can be heard. A fruit-seller has to commit suicide after a corrupt cop bullies him (Tunisia). A generation of unemployed citizens have to tell their corrupt dictator that his son cannot succeed him and they want him to leave now (Egypt). Diplomats and military officers have to refuse orders to kill and support the killing of their own citizens (Libya). Neo-feudalist ideologues contemptuous of, “The People,” and supportive of corporate and oligarchic rule openly attempt to destroy workers’ rights (Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey …). It has to become painful, and mean, and bad, and unbearable before there is the opening up inside to the voice of spirit that drives people to want to make life better.
The people in Tahrir Square simply showed up and communicated via the Internet to coordinate their responses. They didn’t show up with guns and other weapons. It was the same in Tunisia, is the same in Libya, and will be the same elsewhere change will happen.
The world in which we live has been defined by power exercised by some against other people. The world into which we are moving is being defined by power shared by all people. The former required armed insurrection to change regimes, the latter looks remarkably like the suffragette parades and labor rallies and strikes of 100 years ago and Ghandi’s, King’s and others’ peaceful refusals to accept what wasn’t right. As long as some people equate power with violence, some will get hurt. However, as we move into a world with horizontal organizations of shared responsibility and decision-making, we cannot use violence over others to achieve this new world.
I encourage each person to open to Spirit as they understand Spirit. I encourage each person to connect with others in whatever they they can. Social networking is a physical connection that can support already-existing spiritual connections. The means to easily communicate all around the world is helping accelerate the changes of heart that is already underway.
That those who believe in material wealth and vertical power are gathering more material wealth and lashing out at those who don’t have material wealth or power reveals more about the knowledge that their way of running the world is coming to an end than about the rightness of that way. There are reasons Jesus and other teachers warned about the gathering of material wealth and power as the purpose of the life and most of those reasons can be summed up in the understanding that material wealth is transient and true wealth lies in Spirit, however one understands Spirit. Since the world into which we are moving seems very much a more spiritually-based world, we cannot use the tools of a world of material wealth and power to help bring it about.
So, we see mass gatherings of people standing together in peace. We see them continue to stand in the face of force. We see them protected by those who choose to not use force against them. We see the strong protecting the weak and not preying upon them. We see the results of spirit moving among humanity as we take our next steps. We are seeing the new tools birthing a new world.