James C. Wilhelm, Contributor
The message for which I am primarily known has remained consistent for 52 years: unity, freedom, peace, love, justice, gratitude, giving. These words represent a powerful, stunning, and absolutely possible reality available to all humanity.
In 1976 I asked, “What do I do with the power that the ineffable experience of peace and love makes available to me?” I received two answers:
Communicate the possibility of lasting inner peace to as many people as possible.
Assist anyone who may choose peace, love, justice, equality of opportunity, responsibility, freedom to realize that these gifts are who they are.
I asked the question because the realization of peace within me brought with it the realization that I am not fulfilled until all sentient beings are fulfilled. And it was obvious to me that something about the way we humans were living was not working.
Though cause and effect relationships can be difficult to correlate, there is no doubt that over the course of the past few thousand years humans have made many harmful changes to other humans and to the planet. We cannot presume that because we have found ways to bend physical reality and other life forms to our human will that such self-focused choices are representative of an ethical system to which we should adhere. And many of us do make this presumption.
Our human minds are very good at justifying anything we want to do. A popular human justification consists in the notion that humans are on earth to control and exploit earth’s resources as we see fit. Our short term view, from the perspective of the micro-flash of an average human lifespan, distorts our thinking. The thinking distortion causes us to imagine that any action we take is moral action as long as we can justify it within ourselves.
Not all humans believe the ends justify the means. Many of us around the world and in the Unites States believe that justice, equality of opportunity and freedom have been taken from the average person and set aside for only the wealthiest people who are able to influence the passage and enforcement of laws. This power to influence governments explains why the rich get richer, the middle class is evaporating and the poor get poorer.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Freedom, justice and the ability to have a fair shot at success belong to all humans and those who see themselves without these precious values have the power to take them back. Taking back our freedom begins with taking responsibility for our situation. Above all, this means taking responsibility for our personal transformation, which is what occurs when we relax, breathe mindfully, and allow the loving peace that is always within us to express itself in ourselves and in our world. This recalls words spoken by Abraham J. Muste in 1940:
…if we are to have a new world, we must have new men; if you want a revolution, you must be revolutionized. A world of peace will not be achieved by men…who have not themselves…undergone an inner revolution.
The United States spends close to a trillion dollars a year to defend itself from “enemies”. Despite the staggering amount of money spent to defend against the never-ending list of foreign and domestic enemies and the vast quantity of nuclear and conventional weapons that we possess, we are not safe. Indeed, military and intelligence spending continues to rise year after year and new enemies continue to make themselves known. Perhaps the enemy is that group of people who desire and benefit financially from this unconscionable weapons spending.
We the people have given up our dollars for weapons that don’t keep us safe while our educational system continues to weaken and people remain hungry and homeless. We have watched as our children, sisters and brothers have gone without food and healthcare and, most of all, we have surrendered our freedom, our security, and our privacy. If we value freedom and choose to regain and maintain freedom we must take back responsibility for the course of our own lives and in doing so, take back our freedom. It will not be given back to us. We must take it. Frederick Douglass said in 1857:
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will…The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
Yes, we the people elect our fellow citizens to public office and these people tell us they are the leaders of the nation; they are not. They dance on strings, pulled this way and that by a monied oligarchy, which ensures the never-ending presence of enemies against whom we must arm ourselves with ever newer, ever better, ever more weapons. This is the military-industrial complex about which President Dwight Eisenhower warned us in his final speech to the nation in 1960. Eisenhower also said:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in a final sense a theft from those who are hungry and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.
How is it possible for the top 1% of America’s population to own 42% of the nation’s wealth while the bottom 80% of Americans own only 7%? There are many explanations for this, too many to address in anything short of a lengthy book. I summarize an answer here by stating that the 1% is totally organized, in agreement on their central goals, and focused on them like a laser beam. One element of this focus is their use of wealth to purchase influence within the nation’s political system, to elect presidents, to pass laws that work in their favor and to hold dominion over the rulings of our highest courts.
Being organized and focused on agreed upon goals is smart and effective; purchasing laws that work to increase wealth and power is a usurpation of the democratic processes of government. Our “government of the people, by the people and for the people” has been redefined as “government of, by, and for the elite oligarchy.
Clearly defined and agreed upon objectives are necessary to the achievement of goals, whether in a family or a social system. The vast majority of Americans, the 99%, are fractured into many factions, each with its own agenda and its own set of goals. We have been indoctrinated to focus on differences and to oppose each other and even to hate each other. We separate ourselves according to financial status; we have divorced ourselves from each other along racial and religious lines, differences in political parties and other illusory distinctions that serve to prevent us from agreeing on almost anything.
The 99% of Americans, the vast majority of our people must, therefore, transcend our apparent differences and join together as the one mind that we essentially are. Jim Morrison said 46 years ago:
They got the guns, but we got the numbers. Gonna win yeah, we’re taking over. Come on!
Martin Luther King Jr said in 1967:
We have experimented with the meaning of nonviolence in our struggle for racial justice in the United States, but now the time has come for man to experiment with nonviolence in all areas of human conflict, and that means nonviolence on an international scale…
No individual can live alone; no nation can live alone, and as long as we try, the more we are going to have war in this world. Now the judgment of God is upon us, and we must either learn to live together as brothers or we are all going to perish together as fools.
One way to “live together as brothers” is to recognize our essential sameness rather that our superficial differences. At the very core of our human essence we are one. Corporately controlled media outlets teach us we are different; we can disregard this and begin to love each other. We must come together and declare among us a set of focused goals that we all share. We must then be responsible for taking unified, focused action aimed at the realization of these goals. Focusing as one our common energy we are infinitely powerful and capable of anything. We can light this whole world afire with freedom, justice, equality of opportunity and love.
The issues facing us today are intensified and enhanced versions of issues that have confronted humanity for many years, even centuries. It is thus necessary for those of us who share the vision of possibility to prepare ourselves for change at the level of the cultural paradigm itself. It is here that our responsible action will bring about our mutual and widespread freedom, peace and abundance.
We will not regain our freedom if we leave it to someone else. We will not regain our freedom and create justice without a commitment to radically change the way things have always been done. We are talking about a new paradigm that lives into the words of the United States Constitution:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The Constitution does not state, We the 1%… It says, “We the people,” and we are that people of which this document speaks.
Our Declaration of Independence, the document that declared on July 4, 1776, our independence from a despotic and unjust government states:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
The radical change now required is not an extreme idea – it is the only practical path across the great divide from slavery to independence. We will not vote or legislate our way across this divide. Power has never given up power – power must be taken.
I suggest we follow the path guided by our inner peace and organize ourselves for peaceful change, peaceful revolution. We must act now by following the lead of our role models from the past like the Reverend Dr. King Jr, and Mahatma Gandhi, who said:
When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.
Indeed, “…they got the guns, but we got the numbers.” Let us all: black, white, Hispanic, Native American, women, men, foreign born, oriental, unemployed, employed, professional, production worker, Muslim, Christian, Jew, atheist, all religions, all races, all of us human beings, come together as the one we essentially are and take back our freedom, our peace, our justice. The time to act is now.
About the Author
Jim Wilhelm is an international spiritual teacher, self-development mentor, author, lecturer, philosopher, Emmy award-winning television producer, and successful entrepreneur. He has shared his experiences of practical mysticism around the world for more than 40 years. Jim has translated his mystical understanding into practical knowledge that we all can apply in our lives.
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