The Politics of Connectedness

Politics: Week 2

The Politics of Connectedness
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

As I shared last week, the role of religion is to reconnect us—to our truest selves, each other, and to God. If we are all made in God’s image, we are already connected through our inherent, divine DNA. But we’ve forgotten and need reminding! Social psychologist Diarmuid O’Murchu writes about the importance of connection within politics.

Three words encapsulate a new way of being political as we strive to come home to ourselves as a planetary, cosmic and spiritual species: interdependence, sustainability, and justice. In recent decades, we witness a growing awareness of how everything is interconnected and interdependent. But that awareness has scarcely begun to seep into the consciousness of the political arena.

The universe that sustains our existence and the planet that nurtures our relational well-being require political strategies and structures that will both honour and enhance that relational interdependence. And this applies not merely to people but to all creatures inhabiting creation, as well as to the various ecosystems that sustain and nourish our mutual co-existence. In fact, other life forms innately veer in this direction. It is we humans, as vociferous consumers, who threaten the ecological equilibrium. . . .

According to [James Robertson], the shift to a more sustainable political policy will involve:

. . . a shift of emphasis away from means towards ends; away from economic growth towards human development; away from quantitative towards qualitative values and goals; away from the impersonal and organisational towards the personal and interpersonal; and away from the earning and spending of money towards the meeting of real human needs and aspirations. A culture that has been masculine, aggressive and domineering in its outlook will give place to one which is more feminine, cooperative and supportive. A culture that has exalted the uniformly European will give place to one which values the multi-cultural richness and diversity of human experience. An anthropocentric worldview that has licensed the human species to exploit the rest of nature as if from above and outside it, will give place to an ecological worldview. We shall recognize that survival and self-realisation alike require us to act as what we really are—integral parts of an ecosystem much larger, more complex, and more powerful than ourselves. [1]

. . . Alternative structures can achieve little without a new vision of how reality works. The real conversion confronting humanity today is a transformation of consciousness rather than mechanistic changes in human or social behaviour.

I am consciously advocating a subversive strategy for future political engagement. Current models of political activity are largely beyond reform. We need to withhold our support and redirect our imagination and energy into different, more egalitarian, ecological and sustainable ways for relating to creation and to other people.

References:
[1] James Robertson, Beyond the Dependency Culture: People, Power and Responsibility (Praeger Publishers: 1998), 90.

Diarmuid O’Murchu, Religion in Exile: A Spiritual Vision for the Homeward Bound (Gateway: 2000), 184-186, 189.

Image credit:
Mexico–United States barrier at the border of Tijuana and San Diego (detail), Tomas Castelazo, 2006. The crosses represent migrants who died in the crossing attempt—some identified, some not. Surveillance tower in the background.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image:
When we forget that politics is about weaving a fabric of compassion and justice on which everyone can depend, the first to suffer are the most vulnerable among us—our children, our elderly, our mentally ill, our poor, and our homeless. As they suffer, so does the integrity of our democracy. —Parker Palmer

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