To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. And a man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out of any field of life. That is why my devotion to Truth has drawn me into the field of politics, and I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means. |
- Mahatma Gandhi
There is an aphorism that I subscribe to: "Democracy is only as good as the people who get involved." If Democracy has any integrity, it is because each of us gives it integrity. If Democracy works, it is because "we the people" work at perfecting Democracy. It reflects our sacrifice. It rises to our level of compassion. It exhibits our courage. It dwells on those words contained in the Declaration of Independence, which I have deliberately taken the liberty of altering:
"We hold these truths to be self evident that all sentient beings are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among human beings, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed and the compassion of their stewardship. That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying it foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness embodied in reverence for life." (Underlined text added.)
These words are powerful: With the "consent of the governed" it is our right to change the way we would govern ourselves and even alter the words of the original agreement.
Democracy that works is always a work in progress, perfecting itself, enfranchising those who aspire to participate, extending democracy beyond its original boundaries. It is a bastion of learning, elevating conscience. Democracy that works embraces our future lovingly. It would follow the requirement from the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy:
"In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions upon the next seven generations."
This is a form of decision making embodying high aspirations. Imagine the impact it would have upon:
- The "State of the Union;"
- Foreign Policy
- The world economy;
- The promotion of justice and peace;
- The biological integrity of life support systems;
- The scope of concern for those we live with and those who will come after us: our children's children's children's children's children's children's children.
Democracy that works extends the miracle of life! This kind of Democracy reminds me of a poem by Robert Frost to which I have taken the liberty of changing its gender:
She is no fugitive, escaped, escaping.
No one has seen her stumble looking back.
Her fear is not behind her but beside her,
on either hand to guide her course perhaps.
She runs straight forward, she is a pursuer.
She seeks a seeker who in turn seeks
another still lost far into the distance.
Any who seek her seek in her the seeker.
Her life is a pursuit of a pursuit forever.
It is the future which creates her present.
All is an interminable chain of longing.
So how do we do we get to this democracy that works?" WE MUST EVOLVE INTO IT! WE MUST STRUGGLE TO CREATE IT! We must act on the warnings we have received from our ancestors, for these warnings are now the present state of our democracy:
Thomas Jefferson to George Logan, 1816:
I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
Alexis de Toqueville, "Democracy In America" 1835:
I am of the opinion, on the whole, that the manufacturing aristocracy which is growing up under our eyes is one of the harshest that ever existed in the world; but at the same time it is one of the most confined and least dangerous. Nevertheless, the friends of democracy should keep their eyes anxiously fixed in this direction; for if ever a permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy again penetrates into the world, it may be predicted that this is the gate by which they will enter.
Abraham Lincoln, 1864:
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country...Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.
Theodore Roosevelt, April 19, 1906:
Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.
Newton Minow, Former Federal Communications Commission chairman, 2000:
We've got a real irony here....We have politicians selling access to something we all own-our government. And then we have broadcasters selling access to something we all own-our airwaves. It's a terrible system.
ALL THESE VOICES AND MORE ARE BECOMING A CRESCENDOING ROAR FOR CHANGE
Consider how the following quotes apply to our time:
"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
- Johan W. von Goethe
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
- George Orwell
I ask you to read these Books:
"UNEQUAL PROTECTION The Rise Of Corporate Dominance And The Theft Of Human Rights" by Thom Hartmann
"SELLING OUT How Big Corporate Money Buys Elections, Rams Through Legislation, And Betrays Our Democracy" by Mark Green
I ask you to get involved with Campaign Finance Reform In Oregon - Amending our State Constitution to, Banning Corporate contributions - Restricting Individual Contributions - Removing the Loopholes. Sign Up on Money Is Not Democracy's Signature Commitment Form and help us put this initiative on the ballot.
I ask you to get involved with the Oregon Public Power Coalition's PUD campaign to take over PGE. It needs 7100 valid signatures to make the ballot in Multnomah County. To account for an error rate of 20%, we must gather 8600 signatures. Currently we have 7600 signatures with the goal of filing by the end of January. We need your help. There are enough people in this room to make it happen. Imagine all the lives you touch and will touch as spiritual leaders.
Finally, I leave you with this warning from Mahatma Gandhi:
Things that will destroy us:
Politics without principles.
Pleasure without conscience.
Wealth without work.
Knowledge without character.
Business without morality.
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice.
I thank you for the honor of speaking before you today.