The choice lies before us this year - the opportunity to choose a different way. Not just a different policy, but a different consciousness, a different set of values. One way makes changes on the surface of things but maintains the status quo. The other way moves us in the direction of the heart, into new and less familiar territory.
A new energy is in the air, but many are afraid to trust it because it does not resemble the old ways of doing things through force, aggression, might, and physical prowess. Rather, the way of the new is softer, more gentle. It involves cooperation rather than enmity. Non-judgment, rather than accusation. A willingness to find common ground with all, rather than a need to exclude some because of their beliefs.
This breeze of gentleness and compassion is the new foundation for the creation of unity in America. Its origin lies in the growth of the heart, not in the growth of might. Its presence signals a new possibility for America, that is, if its credentials could be trusted. If its ability to create a stable and secure society could be relied upon.
But many still ask, is it possible for America to live without her superpower status? Is it possible for her to be a nation among nations, seeking the wellbeing of all? Indeed, is it possible for her to lay down her arms and embrace her heart instead?
The answer to this question lies before us as the presidential electoral process unfolds this year. It is up to each of us to determine the basis for our sense of security and our sense of trust. We must ask ourselves what is it that we trust? Our nuclear arsenal? Our anti-missile system? Our naval presence in the seas of the world? Our economic wealth? Our leadership? What do we trust and what are we afraid to trust?
Do we trust those who speak in softer voices and who do not want this country to be involved in a war - any war? Do we trust those who, in response to criticism, do not fight back? Do we trust those who can find something good, even in their enemies? Do we trust the idealism of the young, or do we think they are naïve and inexperienced, instead?
We are being called to make profound decisions this year, decisions that affect the future of this country. And we are being asked to look deeply into ourselves, to see what we believe about these decisions about the need for change, the fear of change, the willingness to change ourselves. What do we believe, and what are we willing to change about our own ways of living in order to support it?
Some believe that America is ready for and needs a radical alteration to its values and practices. Some feel that change is needed, but it involves primarily a change of administrations, a change of leadership. Some look at change in terms of which political party is in power. Some feel that no matter who wins the presidential election, the end result will be the same politics as usual.
Unfortunately, we can no longer afford to be content with politics as usual. The stakes are too high. Nor can we afford to not look at the dimensions of our desire for change and our fear of change. For the needs of this country and of the world are great, and the risks are great as well. We are at the cusp, today, of falling not only into an economic decline but into a moral decline as well. From this place, it will become progressively more difficult to find our way back.
We are so accustomed to being looked up to in the world, that even though we realize that the situation has changed drastically - that we are no longer seen in the same way - we have not quite made up our minds that we must do something about it, that we must take the next step to alter America's consciousness so that the practices that have led to this downward spiral no longer prevail. What we risk losing if we do not come to grips with this is not only our moral integrity, but our connection with the heart of America itself with her virtue and her honor and her bright promise of the future. We may feel this loss to be inevitable. We may feel that there is little that can be done, but this is not true.
The choice, in fact, lies before us this year. It is the opportunity to choose a different way not just a different policy but a different consciousness, a different set of values, or, to have things remain the same. One way makes changes on the surface of things but maintains the status quo. The other way moves us in the direction of the heart, into new and less familiar territory.
If true change is desired, then the new must be embraced with courage and determination, and even with a recognition that we are stepping into an area that is less known. On one side of this choice are the old ways of feeling secure yet embattled. On the other side are the new ways of feeling secure, through extending our heart's gentleness toward each other and toward the world. Which way will we go? It is up to each of us to decide.