Submitted by Rabbi Arthur Waskow on
After a year of the “Eleventh Plague,” made far worse by a cruel and egomaniacal pharaoh, the American people have decided against the worst of futures – descent into fascism and destruction of Earth. But we remain poised in uncertainty, at the edge of our own version of the Red Sea.
The choice then was the choice between "normalcy" with Pharaoh's Army or a plunge into the Unknown of freedom. Do we want to return to the “normalcy” of big numbers of “left-out,” “forgotten” Americans – Black and brown and Indigenous, white and rural and desperate? That “normalcy” bred the fury of the last four years.
Or do we want to venture into the Unknown of growing a more just, compassionate, and loving society?
We remain uncertain: Will we choose only to smooth the jagged edges of disaster wrought by Coronavirus, as the just-barely-passed American Rescue Act does? Or to heal ourselves from the deeper danger of worsening inequality of wealth and income, from the attack on democratic elections and democracy itself, and to heal our deeply wounded planet?
The danger to democracy and to Earth are deeply intertwined. The Hyperwealthy Carbon Pharaohs who make their money by scorching Mother Earth into fires, floods, freezes, and famines and their allies in government, banking, and propaganda media use some of their obscene wealth to buy laws that reduce their taxes, increase the power of wealth in buying elections, and reduce the voting ability of marginalized groups who would oppose them.
And there is an even deeper connection. The impulse to dominate and subjugate other human beings colors in blood our behavior toward other life-forms. And the impulse to exploit and subjugate Earth colors our behavior toward human groups we subjugate.
That impulse to Subjugate can only be cured by spiritual transformation -- community-wide spiritual transformation, what we often mistakeny call something utterly different --- politics.
To redirect that impulse and grow from the grass roots a society of justice, compassion, and love will take support for renewed and more inclusive democracy; both neighborhood and national action for healing Earth and the Human-Earthlings intertwined with her; and the mobilization of faith communities to create a shared spirituality of justice, compassion, and the Loving Eco-Society.
These three imperatives will govern the work of The Shalom Center.
A. We will support action to strengthen and expand our democracy. This will include national action like the passage of the For the People bill and the John Lewis Voting Rights Enforcement Act. (To learn more about these two major corrections to our broken election system, click to https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/how-to-restore-and-strengthen-voting-rights-act and
We will support abolishing or radically reshaping the filibuster, now an intrinsically antidemocratic process that worsens the anti-democratic structure of the US Senate. We will support action to provide statehood to the people of the District of Columbia, and to end partisan and racist gerrymandering. We will support efforts to fulfill Torah's command to make reparations for the subjugation of a whole people in slavery. We will let you know when a crucial moment comes for these actions, and offer you the means to make a difference.
B. We will support efforts in the Jewish and other faith communities to initiate solar and wind co-ops in rural as well as urban and suburban neighborhoods; to support efforts to win national funding for such co-ops; to empower the poor, the Black, the Latinx, the Native communities to end their subjugation to the poisonous byproducts of the Carbon industries; to end the use of “forever plastics” and dangerous biochemicals as “eco-treyf” (un-kosher) products that sicken human beings and kill many life-forms; to transform agriculture to restore the land and fit with changes in food use that heal both land and people; to encourage space for wild-life to flourish; and to embody “the Covenant of Noah” to protect all life-forms from danger of extinction.
C. We will enrich a transformative religious life that sees all spiritual and religious communities as committed to the enhancement of Humanity and Earth, not only to its own narrow interests. We will share interpretations of Torah that illuminate this vision, teachings like Dancing in God's Earthquake: The Coming Transformation of Religion that point toward such communities. We will suggest and provide ways of drawing on the sacred festivals of every tradition to create public policy that heals our Earth.
With the sacred times approaching of Passover (First Seder March 27), Holy Week (Palm Sunday March 28), and Ramadan (1st day of fasting, April 13), periods of interior and public liberation, we call on all of us to affirm our transformation.
We know that all humanity and along with humanity, all Earth, faces a choice between the Great Turning to the sharing of abundance, respect, and love -- or a descent into misery and death. We at The Shalom Center will do our best to provide the ideas and suggest the actions that will help us actually make the Great Turning.