Nov. 5, 2004Articles and commentary regarding world events
What is in a gesture? A post-election commentary.

     There were three small details I noticed about John Kerry during the recent election campaign - each significant in its own way, each touching the heart.

     The first awareness followed from a comment made by a political pundit that John Kerry looked like 'a tree'. Shortly afterward, I took a good look at him and, indeed, he did look like a tree. This was very touching, for not only did it reflect the stiffness combined with height which I assume the commentator was referring to, but also something very sturdy, very upright and honorable that was contained in his posture.

     The second detail was the mustard-yellow field-jacket that Sen. Kerry wore everywhere toward the end of his campaign. This jacket appeared to be mint LL Bean - a trademark that many New Englanders could recognize. The jacket became a visual statement, at least for some, of his affiliation with his New England roots and, one might guess, of his desire to portray himself as an outdoorsman rather than a 'city slicker', as folksy and casual rather than as a Northeast intellectual. As the days grew cooler, no matter where John Kerry was seen, his mustard-yellow jacket said 'New England' in a way that many in his home region could identify with. And even if there were a measure of deliberate 'spin' involved in this, (and there probably was), the choice itself was poignant because of how this very tree-like person wore it.

     Third, and perhaps most importantly, John Kerry made the respectful and beautiful gesture of "Namaste" at a number of points during his public appearances. For those not familiar with this, it is the traditional Hindu and Buddhist way of bowing slightly with clasped hands to the Divine self of another. It was brief. It was not emphasized. But it was there - called forth from somewhere out of his soul's past and certainly not reflecting his New England or Catholic heritage. Wherever this gesture came from, it spoke of fundamental respect and humility toward others and may even have indicated an orientation toward values that were not conscious, but embedded somewhere deep within his character.

     What is in a gesture? The ones described above do not give a complete picture of character, intention, or action, or, in relation to John Kerry, of what kind of presidency he would have had. Yet they say something about the soul within. All gestures have this quality - they reveal to us something of the inner being and allow us to witness that which is unspoken.

     We each are aware of a myriad of details during our waking hours and interpret meaning according to the range of our perceptions. Thus, we, ourselves, determine the details of life that stand out to us. What is most precious about each individual is often revealed in the small details about them. If we are awake, these can add to our appreciation of who they are as beings. They can also enhance our perception of the richness of life.

World Response to U.S. Election

"Bush re-election draws mixed world reaction." (Nov. 4, 2004)

"A divided world reacts to US election." (Nov. 4, 2004)

"U.S. election: African reaction." (Nov. 4, 2004)

Also, very much worth reading for its clear presentation:

"Two Nations Under God." (Nov. 4, 2004)  (NY Times articles are free of charge for 7 days post-publication.)

     In light of the high priority given by many voters in the recent election to issues concerning 'moral values', this article comments on what is needed in order that the Democratic party regain relevance to those whose vote is dependent upon these issues.

     "My problem, (says author Thomas Friedman), with the Christian fundamentalists supporting Mr. Bush is not their spiritual energy or the fact that I am of a different faith. It is the way in which he and they have used that religious energy to promote divisions and intolerance at home and abroad. I respect that moral energy, but wish that Democrats could find a way to tap it for different ends."

What does it mean to be 'pro-life'?

     Somewhere inside us common sense speaks. It says that being 'pro-life' must be about upholding the sanctity of life. This is true irrespective of how we define the source of that sanctity - whether it be called God or whether it be more humanistically defined. To 'uphold the sanctity of life' is to respect life in all its forms, in all its manifestations, at all times, everywhere. This is the spiritual meaning of being 'pro-life'.

      And yet having said this, we must acknowledge that this is a large task, one that is a measure of the maturity of a soul. When we can truly respect all of life, it is because contact with the soul level of our being has allowed us to perceive the rest of life as one with ourselves - one in origin and one in essence. Everything else is but a step in this direction.

     While such steps are being taken, (and they have been taken throughout history despite wars and devastations of huge proportions), unconsciousness and self-interest still prevail. People tend to get attached to one branch of the tree that is the 'Tree of Life' - the tree of sanctity to which all 'pro-life' messages relate and from which they emerge. Because of emotional and spiritual immaturity, many don't see the other branches that are part of this same tree. Some see them, yet deny their common root and are even capable of flagrantly opposing the other branches. It is for this reason that we see, today, the term 'pro-life' being co-opted by specific political and social groups to reflect and signify the nobility of their very particular cause, while paradoxically ignoring the aims or goals of other groups who are literally marching under the same banner. This creates spiritual confusion in some, and open conflict among others. For it is not uncommon that a group that is 'pro-life' in one area can be accused of being ardently 'anti-life' in another, simply because a different standard is being applied to a different set of behaviors.

      Short-sightedness in the presence of the unfoldment of soul-expression is a reflection of the time we are in. It is a time of unfolding consciousness - consciousness which has not yet developed its full capacity to experience unity and which, in the meantime, is beset by self-centered ego and emotional needs. Such needs create an all-too-ready willingness to be 'the one' carrying the banner of righteousness, while at the same time making all others appear wrong and thereby effectively polarizing the world. We have to understand that in its deepest meaning, to be 'pro-life' is not related to a particular issue. It is related to an attitude toward life itself, toward life as a whole. This attitude seeks to create unity rather than polarization. It is not issue-oriented but soul-oriented. It sees in all the presence of God, by whatever name God is called.

      To be 'pro-life', then, includes all of the follwing issues which, clearly, at this time, are not generally seen as unified:

1) The preservation of the sanctity of life following conception and prior to birth.

This relates to the abortion issue as well as to the question of how or whether embryos or fetuses may be used for scientific research, including stem-cell research.

2) The preservation of the sanctity of life up until and through the time of death.

This relates to the issues of physican or self-induced suicide or euthanasia, as well as to legal issues concerning the use of life-support systems to prevent physical death from occurring naturally.

3) The preservation of the sanctity of life in relation to the Hebraic sixth commandment - "thou shalt not kill," a commandment which has its parallels within both Christian and Muslim scripture.

This relates to the issue of capital punishment and whether the judicial system should be empowered to have this available as an option.

It also relates to the 'principle of non-violence' practiced by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. that draws on tenets central to religions of both East and West. This principle specifies and conditions attitudes toward violence of all kinds: capital punishment, war between nations, the seeking of revenge, and the present 'war on terrorism' as well.

4) The preservation of the sanctity of life in relation to the protection of the freedom of individuals to pursue their own lives and destinies, free from oppression and the threat of oppression by powerful external authorities and forces.

     Each of these issues (and others that are derived from these) relate to what it means to be 'pro-life', and the importance of each to an individual soul creates the shape of that soul's life and the direction of their choices and behaviors. It is clear that today, one who chooses to be pro-life in relation to protecting embryos may not make a similar choice in relation to the protection of the lives of Iraqis, Palestinians, Sudanese, etc. Put another way, one who chooses the 'pro-life' position in relation to pre-birth sanctity may, at the same time, still be capable of committing themselves to the use of capital punishment as an effective tool or to a policy which justifies a war whose cost is countless other innocent lives.

      In the end, we find ourselves amidst these paradoxes and contradictions, partly awake, spiritually speaking, and partly asleep. As individuals and as a society, we find ourselves able to commit ourselves to certain ideals and, indeed, to make profound sacrifices on their behalf, and yet unable to reconcile ourselves to other ideals that come from the same root of the same tree.

     This unfolding development is part of our collective future. It is a future in which the awakening of consciousness will unify ideals related to the sanctity of life into a coherent whole. At that time, they will become the foundation for a new way of living rather than the battleground among specific issues which they presently are. Fortunately, we can look forward with confidence to this coming day. For as surely as the sun rises and sets, so, too, will the consciousness of man one day become aware of the sanctity of life and unable to violate that sanctity without violating the very tenets of his own soul.

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The purpose of Light Omega is to bring us all into greater planetary consciousness with awareness of the suffering of others and with a willingness to remain awake to the challenges, dangers, and possibilities we face today.

     Julie Redstone