Sunday Sermon: Ten Tips on How to Save the World

Cover of "Integral City: Evolutionary Int...

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I’ve used popular jargon for the title, because, as you’ll notice below, this is not political science, or any science at all. This is a riposte against the endless hours of brutal entertainment that suggests only might makes right. To save the world might be a heroic endeavour but I don’t believe it requires a Napoleonic campaign. It does, however, require the engagement of an alert mind and open heart.

The instructions are simple. Learn from the bees, use your caring mind to gaze at the world, reclaim your power, reclaim your nature, hold onto curiosity, celebrate your creativity, give up blaming, live from a place of love, acknowledge your political self, and honour your spirit.

1. Learn from the bees.
Marilyn Hamilton, CEO of Integral City, told a children’s story not long ago, that is easy to remember. Three key strategies enable bee hives to survive, which can teach us how to sustain the human hive – take care of you, take care of others, take care of this place. Our ancestors learned how to do this but sophisticated social systems have alienated us from our own capacity to manage the hive. However, world crises shows we must re-engage in the process now.

2. Use your caring mind to gaze at the world.
Look closely at the operating system, or the ‘apparatus’ as Simone Weil put it. Read ideas and opinions wherever you can find them. Ask yourself who benefits? Expand your gaze beyond your own immediate interests. Prepare to be disturbed but not defeated.

2. Reclaim power.
Power and all its parts: politics, wealth, language, science, economics, institutional religion, are not evil. They are tools of a civil society. What is evil is the way these institutions have been corrupted to centralize power, to make it a zero sum commodity. Infinite power is natural, loving and intelligent.

3. Reclaim our nature.
We are resourceful workers and stakeholders in our society. We are not a resource or a job description. We are not left, right, conservative or liberal – we are organic, politically mobile beings. Labels are assigned to influence and control masses. We have courage, fear, anger, love and wisdom but they are not commodities, they are strengths that emerge and hide. The deadliest weapon of oppression is that which turns humanity and all of nature into a thing, a resource.

4. Hold onto Curiosity.
This is what keeps us exploring, examining, interrogating the conditions we live under or in. As long as curiosity is alive we shall never be content with serving an oppressive and corrupt social order.

5. Celebrate your Creativity.                                                                                            Music, theatre, farmers’ markets, poetry, gardens, maps, new political parties, conversations – are the means of expressing and sharing our humanity. Art is the what, where, how and who of our species as it yearns and evolves.

6. Give up blaming.
Blaming is not problem solving and the problem is not what other people do. To solve problems we need to re-engage our power to care creatively, with curiosity and love.

8. Live from a place of Love
Love breaks apart the structures of false hierarchies. It demands attention to suffering, violence and calls for healing. It insists on life as the source of knowledge. Love is what drives great minds to take courageous stands outside of their particular disciplines for the greater good. Love is the openness to pain that makes injustice, corruption, cynicism and oppression unbearable.

9. Life is political.
You are an integral, intelligent, reflective part of a larger organism. Whether we survive as a species depends on protecting our earthly home from a system that enables a few egos to hold this planet ransom for the sake of temporary profit. There is no escape from politics. Its apparatus has been built on a grandiose delusion that refuses to see the natural world as sacred, and ourselves dependent upon its health. To be apolitical is to be a doctor standing at the bed of a dying patient, refusing to be involved because the disease is dirty. To dismiss the world stage and your part in it is to lobotomize the future.

10. Honour the spirit
The spirit is our energy. It imparts our intentions before we see them. It allows us to dream and care for the world beyond our own life. Imagination and love is the immortal legacy we leave for our great-grandchildren.

These are just my thoughts. What are yours? What would you list as the top ten tips on saving the world?

29 thoughts on “Sunday Sermon: Ten Tips on How to Save the World

  1. A moving statement from a caring person! Thanks for the “sermon”!
    Could you say more about (or “unpack” as we say in the classroom) this sentence: “The spirit is our energy.”
    “Spirit” is such an ambiguous term.
    And “It [spirit] imparts our intentions before we see them.”
    What does it mean for the spirit (whatever that is) to impart intention?

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    • I have never felt confident in any explanation of the notion of spirit, but I feel it when I am in a room and when it emanates from another person, even in a book or a newspaper article. So, of course, the notion could be invented, delusional, however it does seem to inform me on an emotional level. For example – at our fellowship today the topic was Truth and Reconciliation and the spirit coming from our minister and those who led and organized the service was one of melancholy, empathy and apology. I felt all this in the room too. Do I need to prove that or is it enough to honour it? I think it would be a mistake to dismiss it. But I am willing to try unpacking it whenever I can.

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  2. A few years ago the local paper had a piece on spirituality in which I tried to say what I thought about spirit.
    From that story:

    For Lane, spirituality is not “that complicated, really.”
    Understanding the need for people to work together and believing in a common outcome is as simple as looking at a sports team like the Vancouver Island Raiders.
    The root of spirituality is spirit, Lane said, and it can be equated to “team spirit,” like that of the Raiders and the Nanaimo Clippers.
    “People need to connect with something that’s more than the individual. Some reach out to a sacred text that has a vocabulary they are familiar with,” he said.
    “But you can’t measure the Raiders’ team spirit, in real terms, except by their play. And you can’t measure an individual’s spirituality except by his or her play and what they do in their lives.”

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    • I like the sports connection – everyone knows what team spirit means. And that notion catches the feeling that nebulaflash speaks warmly about.

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    • “But you can’t measure the Raiders’ team spirit, in real terms, except by their play. And you can’t measure an individual’s spirituality except by his or her play and what they do in their lives.” That pretty much says it for me!

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  3. The first tweet announcing the sermon went out like this: Some tips on how to save the world from Janet Vickers
    Sorry for the ambiguity! 🙂
    I don’t really think that the world needs saving from Janet.

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  4. A good list. Mine is a very short list:
    1. Get rid of religion.
    2. Outgrow tribal connections.
    3. Eliminate all weapons of mass destruction in the world.
    4. Get serious about alternative energy.
    5. Curtail population of humans; overpopulation is the cause of much of our human msery.

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      • I would argue that 1 and 2 are foundational. Evidence? First, the daily news. Exclusivist religions are responsible for atrocities on a daily basis. Second, history. War after war after religious war. Religion also leads to a tribal (only my tribe has THE TRUTH) approach to living in the world.

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        • How would you get rid of religion? They made it illegal in Russia and China, then forced starvation on Ukrainians and Mennonites (Russia) and imprisoned Tibetans in China. Could it be said that communism became a religion in the east as capitalism did in the west?

          What is evil is the way institutions were corrupted from their original purpose – to serve civil society – into clubs of privilege. Good leadership is the conduit of responsible power which demonstrates humility, vulnerability, and serves the greater good. Good leaders use their powers to affirm and highlight the power in all.

          We can’t make leaders and institutions use their power well any more than we can get rid of religion. This is a problem of belief though – do we defeat what is wrong by getting rid of the corrupt players or do we relearn how to use our power? For example, do we vote for parties who might stand a chance of winning or do we vote for the party that builds their campaign on social justice? And if our candidate gets into power are we willing to check their behavior? This alone takes energy even though we may not see the results we want. So it is a matter of examining the power we have to achieve the greater good in all that we purchase.

          This is where faith comes in. If we believe (in civil rights, civil society, social justice, love, family, peace and cooperation) that we can build a better world, without guarantees that everything and everyone will fall into place, are we more likely to help one another rather than shoot and bomb them.

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        • Humans have been fighting each other since before they met Neanderthals. It’s all about “control” – control over others, control of money, control over religion, and control over a neighborhood, other countries, or the world (e.g., the Roman Empire). I don’t think human life will ever change.

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        • nebulaflash asks “How would you get rid of religion?” And then uses examples of countries which tried to ban religion. I find that a strange idea from a person who is happy talking about the misuse of power! I didn’t say “ban it” – I said “Get rid of it”. How? Education. Science. Philosophy. Stop giving tax breaks to churches, synagogues, temples. Show people that belief in spirits and fairies is irrational. Talk about facts and not faith. We cannot simply feel or love or imagine our way to the new world order! We must act.
          And this approach is working!
          “As of 2010, there were 1.1 billion religiously unaffiliated people around the world, accounting for about one-in-six (16%) people worldwide. This makes the unaffiliated the third-largest religious grouping worldwide, behind Christians and Muslims, and about equal in size to the world’s Catholic population.
          The religiously unaffiliated include atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion in surveys.”
          (from Pew Research)

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        • Thanks for explaining how we might “get rid of” religion “Education. Science. Philosophy” is love in action as is the search for facts (truth and meaning).

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        • I’m sorry but I don’t know what you mean. Like “spirit” “Love in action” is more happy talk. You have stretched “love” to encompass everything you like. I don’t mean to be insulting; it is just that precision is important.

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        • I’m sorry but I don’t know what you mean. Like “spirit” “Love in action” is more happy talk. You have stretched “love” to encompass everything you like.Similarly you write “…the search for facts (truth and meaning).” as if facts, truth, and meaning are the same, but they are related not the same.
          I don’t mean to be insulting; it is just that precision is important. I hope you love my reply! 🙂

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        • I may have stretched love in terms of general understanding, but I do believe that being a teacher, searching for facts, if it is done for the greater good is often done for the love of life. I don’t see love in action as happy talk. I think love is hard work in all relationships. between people, nature, art, and science. I believe also that engaging in this blog, this conversation, is an act of love because time spent here does not offer us rewards like money or power and I perpetually grieve over the world’s glorification of power and trivialization of love. No doubt I could go back to my desk and do more work on this because I love my family and friends, and the people who inspire me to be more precise. But this does not make me happy.

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  5. Bob – another meaning of “spirit”:
    “The Spirit of St. Louis is a wonderful plane. It’s like a living creature, gliding along smoothly, happily, as though a successful flight means as much to it as to me, as though we shared our experiences together, each feeling beauty, life, and death as keenly, each dependent on the other’s loyalty. We have made this flight across the ocean, not I or it.” — Charles Lindbergh, 1927

    NOTE: The “Spirit of St. Louis” was named in honor of Lindbergh’s supporters in St. Louis, Missouri, who paid for the aircraft.

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    • Love this – “as though a successful flight means as much to it as to me, as though we shared our experiences together, each feeling beauty, life, and death as keenly, each dependent on the other’s loyalty. We have made this flight across the ocean, not I or it.”

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  6. My friend, Dr. Lex Crane, has written a sermon on the causes of war. You can find it online here.
    Lex is a retired Unitarian/Universalist minister. He argues that religion is not the primary cause of war.

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  7. Pingback: The Nature of Love: Eros, Philia, and Agape | Episyllogism: philosophy and the arts

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