March 17, 2019

{Putting Love on the Ballot}

My guest editorial, "Putting Love on the Ballot," published on Confluence Daily...and reprinted below!


I recently attended a gathering in Greenville, South Carolina, where author, spiritual teacher, and now candidate for president of the United States, Marianne Williamson was speaking. I wanted to thank her in person for doing something extremely radical: Putting love on the ballot—squarely, unapologetically, powerfully, eloquently. “I am running for president,” she declared, “in order to harness the political potential of our love, our decency, and our compassion. That is who we are, and that is what America should be.” Love is a topic in which Marianne is well-versed.

Her first book, A Return to Love published in 1992, and the first of seven New York Times’ bestsellers (all reflections on the principles of A Course in Miracles), proclaimed simply: “Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we have learned here.” Marianne writes almost as much about fear as love—given fear is a result of hate, both opposites of love. “Fear unchecked grows exponentially. Love poured forth has the power to remove it.”

Does the presence of love really have that much life-changing power? Marianne adds: “...where love is absent, fear sets in.” Just in case we need a real-life reminder: Fear is what elected Donald Trump and powered the destructive growth of dog whistle politics, giving a louder voice to hate-filled rhetoric spewed from the Senate floor to church pulpits. (No halls so ‘hallowed’ as to escape the maliciousness of it all.)  “It’s not the first time,” clarified Ken Burns, the creator of those movingly beautiful American history documentaries. “Human beings are susceptible to politicians that play to our baser instincts, our worst fears of ‘the other’ instead of, as Lincoln said, ‘the better angels of our nature’.”

We are living in a world where it appears that fear is winning. “Without love, our actions are hysterical. Without love, we have no wisdom.” (Marianne doesn’t mince her words!) It’s time to get revolutionary about love. It’s time for a miracle.

“We had a miracle in this country in 1776,” Marianne announced when exploring a run for the presidency last fall, “and we need another one!” (Keep in mind she holds a ‘miracle’ as ultimately a “shift in perception.”) She then gave a little history lesson, since some may have forgotten what that miracle was nearly 250 years ago. Before this county was founded, all of Europe, under “the divine right of kings,” was “run according to a manorial and aristocratic system.” In other words, a king and/or queen and their pals (the aristocracy) were entitled to the land, the wealth, the education—everything! And the rest of the population, the vast majority, “was little more than serfs to that small group.” However, Marianne continued, with the founding of this country, “we turned that entire mindset on its ear.” And when declaring our independence, we declared that “all men are created equal, and that god gave all men the inalienable rights to life and to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness—and governments were instituted to secure those rights.” Consequently, our new nation stumbled right out of the gate, and then stumbled often, not always living up to those principles. And now we’re stumbling again with a government, paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, functioning only “of a few of the people, by a few of the people, and for a few of the people”—which means, as Marianne explains, “we have subconsciously reverted to an aristocratic paradigm.”

But we are a nation of courageous “problem solvers who have risen up in their time. So yes, we had slavery, but we also had abolition. We had the oppression of women, and we also had two major waves of feminism and the women’s suffragette movement. We had institutionalized white supremacy and segregation, and we also had the Civil Rights Movement.” With that reminder, Marianne is delivering a call to action for this country’s spiritual awakening, “Join the Evolution!”—it is now our turn to be the problem solvers! And that’s where love comes back into it.

Neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson—professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds—considers the next frontier for his field is the study of how the practice of love affects the brain and body, believing there is a quality of love that breaks apart boundaries. Can we take this as an affirmation that, in Marianne’s words, “love is a potent force”? Film director Spike Lee, during his passionate Oscar acceptance speech at the recent Academy Awards ceremony, urging us to vote, urging us to “do the right thing,” put it frankly: “Make the moral choice between love versus hate.”

In calling for a course-correction in this country and putting our democracy back on track; for a resetting of our moral compass and putting the lives and well-being of our children first, Marianne Williamson calls for a return to what made the founding of this country so unique; she calls for nothing less than a return to “an ethical center that is the true exceptionalism of the American ideal.” She encourages us to be on the side of “our better angels” and to “stick with love,” as another peacemaker shared. “We have before us,” Martin Luther King, Jr. remarked—with hate staring him in the face—“the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.”

It’s time for, like in Lincoln’s day, “a new birth of freedom.” It’s time for some old-fashioned love one another like a day-in, day-out practice. Remembering that love is a show of strength, not weakness, it’s time for a love revolution! “Love taken seriously is a radical outlook, a major departure from the psychological orientation that rules the world,” Marianne wrote in A Return to Love over two decades ago. “It is threatening not because it is a small idea, but because it is so huge.”

When I shook Marianne’s hand that afternoon in Greenville—a packed room of mostly women, women of all stripes—thanking her for putting love on the ballot, she replied, “Yes! It’s time to get radical with our love.” Radical, like love as an “essential existential fact.” Radical, like love is “our purpose on earth.” Radical, like your life depended on it! ~

With the success of her books and appearances on Oprah Winfrey’s shows through the years, Marianne Williamson has been a sought-after speaker on the personal transformation circuit. I’ve followed her work, listened to her various recordings, quoted her in my articles and books, and admired her beautiful and effectively intimate way with words. With Marianne, you re-remember that words have power, that love powers all. “Love requires a different kind of ‘seeing’ than we’re used to—a different kind of knowing or thinking. Love is the intuitive knowledge of our hearts. It’s a ‘world beyond’ that we all secretly long for....”

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