A Greater Democracy Day by Day - By Sally Mahe

Call to Global Spiritual Citizenship

A few years ago, my interest in a greater democracy day by day led me to join a Think Tank hosted by the Forge Institute. The early results of this work about GLOBAL SPIRITUAL CITIZENSHIP can be found at www.globalspiritualcitizenship.org/  Please check it out.

Here is a personal story about this work and how it evolved:

There is something compellingly “here but not yet” in the words, global spiritual citizenship. It isn’t clear yet exactly what this phrase means or the place in ourselves and in society we are creating when we ponder its possibility. Nor could we have imagined at the outset of our time together as a Forge Institute Think Tank that these words were waiting to emerge as we bumped and talked, and deepened and laughed our way towards creating a public project that would offer something important to society and somehow help wed the alluring and kaleidoscopic worlds of spirituality and political governance.

In the beginning, I was not sure what kept us coming back to this daunting and vague undertaking nor what held us together when our discussion went awry and we didn’t agree with each other or where this effort was heading. Was it just good people, able leadership, jokes, nice weekends away, something more? We had visions and we shared them. We all knew that walking our talk was paramount.  If we bulldozed over one another in conversation, sulked or withdrew when things weren’t going our way, ignored our commitments, blamed, failed to take risks in speaking up and in receiving upsetting points of view, we agreed that we wouldn’t produce anything of merit, no matter how it might appear.  Aligning values and actions was key.

We had committed to five weekends stretched over 18 months. Each weekend, imagination and conversation led us in different directions but underneath the hours of group-talk and marker-filled-flip-sheets, we began to share our longing to become deeper human beings and to become better citizens not just in the USA but for the whole planet.  We wanted to help people go deeper. We wanted to go deeper ourselves. What that meant we weren’t sure yet. We wanted to help activate people to help fulfill each other’s needs as spiritual beings and as citizens who needed to work together for the common good. We were fed up with accepting a United States of America that exaggerated polarities of thought, that used religion for political divisiveness, war, and simple answers rather than as a spiritual foundation for its citizens to share and enjoy. We realized that we yearned for something greater and something beyond USA borders.  We kept reaching forward to imagine something that did not exist yet. The words finally emerged – the possibility of becoming global spiritual citizens – captivated us.

A common response to the inevitable question upon our return from these TT weekends, “so what did you do?”… was to murmur in a somewhat dazed way … “I don’t know… but it was exhilarating!” The new vantage points we arrived at after each weekend usually felt fuzzy. Tangible “results” seemed to dissipate over time. Yet, within the elusiveness emerged an astonishing feeling of being excited inside of ourselves and an open-hearted feeling of connection with and care for one another. In a safe and honest way, we regarded each other more fully and felt that love and respect for each individual and for the group itself were holding us together and keeping the work on course. In the privacy of our hearts we committed again and again to walk together toward a goal we didn’t see clearly and toward an unpredictable future with this group and with this project. Emerson said that “the power of love as basis of state has never been tried.” Perhaps, we had stumbled upon an ingredient for spiritual citizenship – enough love and respect for the needs of  the other to want to make effort again and again to cooperate across lines that divide us for a common good that we all share.

With gratitude to Phil Goldberg who doggedly integrated ideas and revised draft after draft, a tangible result in fact was achieved. “A Call to Global Spiritual Citizenship” was written. A plan to share it widely, not as a fait accompli but as a portal though which people can go deeper with these words began to take shape. People would be asked to ponder inside themselves, to imagine what these words might mean now and into the future, and to participate in the evolving possibility they encourage.

I hope that a few lessons from our experiences as a Think Tank travel with it.

  1. Notice that you are already being what you want to become.  A hidden joy of sharing the sacred and the spiritual path with others is to see with new eyes and to share what we see.  The joy is that as we look for deeper meaning in our lives, feel humility in our inner life, hold positive regard for who we are becoming and how society might advance, we see ourselves changing and see it happening outside of us as we go. We don’t have to wait to get there! 
  1. Allow the wholeness of yourself to engage the ideas of the Call and your actions will fulfill your heart. Being clever and smart might help, but the Call is not an intellectual exercise to be argued over with winning and losing points of view. As a Think Tank group we cherished our laughs together and welcomed our ability to notice the “ghosts” or the “hidden energies” in the room, but even more, we were thrilled that our group process created space to leave our egos at the door and to sit in humility and in presence to ourselves and to Spirit.
  1. Imagination is key. Seeing possibility is powerful in moving towards positive change. “Results” may feel fuzzy. Successes may seem to dissipate. But just imagine that it is happening – humanity is actually shifting to embrace “the reality of our essential oneness!”  An exhilaration occurs. Behavior changes. More than giving us exercises to fill our thoughts and sharpen our wits, as we entertain these ideas we are held in awe by what is possible. We allow the care we have for one another as members of the same humanity to emerge and we rekindle the seeds of fire in our souls that urge us to imagine even greater things than these.
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