I’ve been saying for many years that we need a practical spirituality—one that’s relevant to our everyday lives and the issues we face in our world now. That’s certainly needed relative to the political arena in the United States. The low level of the public debate has caused national disillusionment and embarrassment.
There is a great risk that you, the reader of this blog post, will see this article at a political level—as if I am promoting a particular party or candidate. I’m not. I am registered to vote and I do have political opinions. But that is not what I am expressing here. I am addressing the frame of mind and heart that gives rise to the climate in which politics takes place.
Where do our dysfunctional politics come from? It is not purely the result of politics itself. What is appearing in the public political discourse is revealing a larger cultural context that is giving birth to the dysfunction we are witnessing. I’m sure there are shadowy figures behind closed doors that are part of the context. But it also involves the attitudes and orientation of ordinary people like you and me.
A news commentator shared some wisdom about the upcoming election. I know, wise words from a news commentator is a news story in an of itself. He said that what was most important was not the policies of the person who was elected but their ability to work cooperatively with others to govern the country.
I happen to believe too that public policy is important, and that some policies are better than others. But still, I take the point of the commentator. Somewhere over the course of my lifetime, politicians seem to have generally decided that their personal political interest is served by their own antagonism and contention, and that they will appear as weak and compromised if they cooperate with others—particularly someone of another political party. Meanwhile, the work of government slows to a crawl—gridlock.
Whatever policy it is, no matter how good it is, it won’t matter if the politicians who have to implement it are locked in battle. It makes you wonder, who is all this gridlock serving? Are there nefarious powers behind the scene who are benefiting from government paralysis?
It isn’t only the politicians who have lost the ability to have a reasonable discourse over the government of the country. People I might otherwise have considered friends have become outright insulting to me over political matters. Social media can be the worst when it comes to this. Any spirit of appreciation and goodwill can hardly survive the trolls. Just recently, I posted a video of First Lady Michelle Obama dancing, with an appreciative comment. She was fantastic! In a line of young people dancing to Uptown Funk, she was the best. Someone I thought was a friend accused me of being deluded and under the spell of the Obamas. I was just complimenting her dance moves!
You might think that if we could bring spirituality to the American political scene it would help. The current problem is that most of the religion and spirituality that is being brought to the public political discourse seems to inflame self-righteousness, hatred and contention. We need a spirituality that can be of practical assistance to our political discourse.
I just returned from a tour of Southern England and Western Wales. With friends, I was researching ancient sites associated with the King Arthur legends. One of the most compelling images from those stories is the Round Table. It has inspired collaborations of many kinds, styled as Round Tables.
The Round Table implies equality. It suggests togetherness and a lack of edges. The image encourages camaraderie.
If you sit opposite other people at a rectangular table, there is implicit polarity. The U.S. Congress sits in session on opposite sides of the aisle, accentuating the polarized political views and affiliations. During the Cold War, Soviets and Americans fought about where they would sit at the table.
At a more personal level, many people I know can track who is on what side of the issues where they live and work. They live a life defined by adversarial relationships and a win-lose mentality.
Watching the current election process can be frustrating and discouraging. There are forces at work that are so much larger than we are as individuals and so far out of our control. But we can do something about creating a Round Table in our own sphere of influence, whatever that might be. Doing so is far less dramatic than impugning the reputation of another person, or villainizing them for what they believe or how they live their life. But far more creative.
True leaders convene the Round Table with the circle of people in their world of influence. That is what King Arthur did in the legend. Yes, the Round Table was given to Arthur by King Leodegrance as a meeting place for the knights and lords who sat there. But it took Arthur to call them to it. It convened a circle of nobles at the Round Table. Without him it would be meaningless. If there is going to be a Round Table in your world, you will have to play a part in convening it or it won’t appear.
The Round Table utilizes the sacred geometry of the circle. The circle is the shape of the sacred feminine. It is the womb of Creation in which living form of all kinds is conceived and in which it is nourished and grows. The circle is the container in which the DNA of that living form comes together.
King Arthur represents the principle of the sacred masculine. And what does he do in that role? He calls the principle of the sacred feminine into play—the Round Table. That is a key role of the sacred masculine—not just to battle the dragons and giants in the land but to invite the principle of the sacred feminine into play.
It is easy to see that this is what is needed at the center of government in the United States. Where are the founding fathers – and mothers – who will allow the rebirth of the nation today? But I can’t compel the President or the Speaker of the House to be that person. I can utilize the principle of the Round Table as I consider political matters with other people. I can utilize the principle of the Round Table in my immediate sphere of influence. You can too.
This is practical spirituality which doesn’t wait for the Creator to save us while we, as human beings, create disaster in the realm for which we have responsibility. When we harmonize with the Creator in our function as human beings, we call down the higher love and the higher wisdom of the Creator and the world is reborn. We have the opportunity to enjoy that process as we sit together at the Round Table.