The man at the pulpit says that love is radical and I agree. He says love is a gift and again, internally, I nod my head. The man gets going now and talks about loving the poor, loving your fellow human being. He starts contemplating the contents, the very make up of a gift. What is the gift of gold? of chocolate? or of a hand made something? Is it the shape or the weight? Is it the time that it takes to get it earned or made? Is it the need that it fills on your shelf or in your closet? What is a gift? A gift is anything given with love. Love, he suggests, is the only, truest, greatest gift and it's measure as well. I'm with him. I hear him. At some point now, I'm really nodding my head. This guy, in the robes, he's onto something. He's got a clue of the universal light. I'm into it. I'm down. I'm sitting on a wooden bench in a well lit room while the dark streets glow in an almost silent hum of empty taxi cabs and landscape neon. Around the corner a handsome cab is taking some late turns for tourists in from somewhere. Welcome, Merry Christmas...
So as the ritual meets the sermon, as the incense wafts over the pavement I wonder why it's the bankers, the lawyers and the other fat cats that seem to sit so smugly inside their comfortable self-sacrifice. They give to the kids and they give to their spouses. They give to the doorman, the mailman and so many, countless others. There are museums and non-profits. There are libraries and small children in need of coats and recycled eyeglasses. There are so many to share with when spending the tax dollars of others. There is so much to share when austerity rears its head, so many needy just about showing up at the door. The man at the pulpit speaks of transformation, illumination and association. He speaks of the transformative capabilities of an enlightened being who associated with the poor, diseased and downtrodden. The bankers, the politicians and others, they nod their heads, just like me and pray to somehow live up to this model. I look around after a while, a little uneasy.
What does it take to change the world? Are we really naive enough to wait for a saviour? Are we self-righteous enough to point out the easy devils? How about, I think, as I shift again, at the start of a lovely and gracefully interminable hymn, I think...in a world that loves hyperbole more than reality, is there are place for a slowly shifting movement of music, much less people? I mean, how man Jesus-Buddha-Saviour-Prophets does it take to change the world? How can it be done peacefully without costing me my neck? If they taser grandmas couldn't I be next? Where, I look around now, could one imagine the next transformative, illuminating messenger of change? Nowhere from what I can see, just an old man's shiny bald spot and a young woman's flowing and impossibly blonde curls.
I wonder as the clock ticks on, what exactly would it take? A room full of Jesuses? A state, or a country? How many enlightened people would it take to liberate China and the prison-military-industrial complex of the United States-Russia and others? How would it go? How would we entangle it all and lay it out so we could make it better? I grab at a thread in the air, my metaphor lands on the flickering burn of a real, heat emitting candle. That's nice. This place must have flexible insurance because a lot of these spiritual meetings places have devolved into LEDs and I have to say, it just ain't the same. Representing my link to the universal-eternal with a press the button candle is just enough to make me feel like even the churches have conceded I am nothing much more than a cog. A post industrial prototype to a much more advanced bot. Which I wouldn't mind so much if I trusted those forces who would bot-omize me. They can't get the environment right. They can't get their own greed and power under control very well, either. I don't know if I need my i-trinket-phone to get any closer. Not yet. Not until this whole power structure gets a little less reductive-empirical extremist and gets a little more inclusive-compassionate-balanced. I remember the Dalai Lama, imperfect as he might be, saying that it's not the technology that is good or bad, but what we do with it that determines a certain tract.
So, with this in mind I imagine a universal love right here right now. I imagine an economy that is not based on scarcity. It's possible, so said E.F. Schumacher. I imagine a world of engaged human beings going off to work jobs big and small, building together the world that they would all inhabit, thusly, I remember Paulo Freire. I think of lost knowledge, so long oppressed and the work of Marija Gimbutas, pops into mind. I remember the purpose, the mission of higher education and I recall the short-lived, Black Mountain College. On and on it goes, as I sit here now. A string of lesser known names, that is those not often flashed on TV or pushed at the front table of my local big box bookseller, comes to mind. I realize it's not about a lack of open and visionary minds. Perhaps it's just the difference of them all occurring at one time. Maybe what we need is for a cloning of Martin Luther King, Dorothy Parker, Aung San Suu Kyi, Jody Williams and some hundreds, perhaps thousands of key others from throughout history. Of course, I remember, that's kind of a nascent technology, so perhaps not reliable, or practical. I guess, maybe then, that means, we, the non-visionary, non-legendary, might just need to take these things into our own hands. Of course, it's hard to imagine, and I'm a little scared.
The guy at the mic said tonight, among floating signs of safety, that above all else, and even today, that this guy, this once living child, we use to keep order in the front of our fears, this guy, he grew up to be visionary and because of this, even now his lifestyle, his politics, his laws and his recommendations, all boiled down to one thing: love as action. And the way he espoused this action made him the thing that polite people hate more than anything. So, yes, Jesus was a radical. Huh. Tell the kids. They need to know. Jesus was a radical who slept with the poor, the prostitutes and the diseased. You don't have to do that, but you could try it for a year; maybe for that one before college. And if you're going to be a Congressman or a Senator or if you ever decide to hold political power or teach children, then yes, you too, should be prepared to try it, for a month, a week or, gasp, yes... one full year. I mean, if you really want my vote, my allegiance and my security, then how much love can you show me? Really, your tax cuts, your wars and your healthcare, all for my benefit, feel empty when I consider your general and overall aversion to wandering, humbly, encountering those you would govern. Talk about hearts and minds, imagine the very shock and awe...of just this one small change. Make the rulers be monks, or at the very least make them walk the country, from end to end, just once and depending on the kindness of strangers. Just an idea, of course, but it makes me smile, to imagine the bankers, the lawyers and politicians and lovely radicals they might become.
Happy Birthday, Jesus. You are one fine example of a radical. Merry, merry! (And to all those who read this, please forgive such a post. It's late, and the words are awkward, the spelling is off) And in every wish for peace tonight...from every religion, person and country, Amen. We need it very badly, very badly, right now. This was mine. Good morning to some, to myself and others, good night.