Inspired by Marianne Williamson’s Sister Giant conference and as the holiday season approaches, I take to heart a positive aspect of faith in the United States is that Americans with deeply held religious convictions make it their business to nurture close ties with people of different faiths. I tend toward religious teachings with multiple deities such as the Greeks and Romans had; spirit for me lives in nature—Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things is a beloved book. Yet the teachings of Christian writers like Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, and Paul Tillich guide me too. My friends, family and neighbors, who inspire me daily. come from an array of different faiths.
Going beyond religious tolerance by learning from religions we don’t necessarily follow is a steadfast component of successful human exchange. A promising indicator we head in the direction of economic progress is is the growing acceptance of gay marriage. That some people are born heterosexual and some homosexual with preferences that do not sway is genetically feasible; yet there is a vast enough population for whom to engage their orientation a level of exploration is in order. The level would depend on an individual’s mix of genes, family environment, culture, disposition, career ambitions, personal goals, as well as life surprises. There is also imagination and wanting to develop a sense of humor to consider.
That many people fear and loath the sexuality choices of others that have nothing to do with them is, on the face of it, profoundly irrational; and yet it is a common problem to overcome. Procreation strikes me as being at the heart of the controversy. I can imagine primitive people of a long ago tribe or nation developing a campaign to encourage heterosexual relationships in order to have babies and build the population. I could see this happening especially after a war, plague or natural disaster takes a toll on a population. Fear and grief (loathing) would sadly enter into the mix to rebuild and, if the psychology behind the campaign continued unexamined, the pressure to conform could evolve into a herd mentality over generations that would eventually lead to disillusionment in love since many obstacles were put up to know one’s heart anymore.
The Rod of Asclepius, a serpent entwined to a staff, is to this day a Western symbol for medicine and healthcare. The symbol comes from an ancient Greek myth involving Asclepius, a Greek god for health and healing. Asclepius may or may not have been a real medicine man at the time. A religious myth involving a serpent is Adam and Eve. Dr. Randolph Stone, D.C., D.O. (1890-1981), the founder of polarity therapy, was vocal about his concerns that we not burden Eve leading her and Adam out of paradise with a negative moral judgment. Their story stripped of moral judgment, Adam and Eve could be seen as symbolic of a positive and negative energy flow, polar flows of equal importance to well being.
How I like to view the Adam and Eve myth–if love is our path to paradise, and our bodies a sacred whole, Adam embodies the masculine side of the heart and Eve the female. Whether this bond represents the union of two people or the completion of one person’s heart, or both actions, two sides work together to form a loving union in an imperfect world. Eve leads Adam on their journey out of paradise, because paradise for humans is unattainable; the wise serpent guides her to eat the apple as an opportunity to heal from mistakes made. In the Buddhist tradition, the female, energy flowing in our bodies is yin; the male is yang. Buddhists teach the connection between life and death is ongoing; we celebrate life and prepare for death with each exhale and inhale. Life takes precedence.
Economic output is the production of the goods and services we need to survive, to trade and travel; input is the development of a thoughtful long term approach to maintain our species and the planet’s well being. This is how money’s role can be seen in a good light. If material output is required to house, feed, clothe and entertain a community, the flowing of money works good deeds; when some people suffer from poverty while others do not the overall system is in need of repair. In his thought-provoking book, Sacred Economics, Charles Eisenstein ponders the right to own property or not in its various forms. In the section pertaining to intellectual property:
The moral justification for intellectual property is, again, “If I am my own, and my labor power belongs to me, then what I make is mine.” But even granting the premise that “I am my own,” the implicit assumption that artistic and intellectual creations arise es nihilo from the mind of the creator; independent of cultural context, is absurd.
Eisenstein is aware, however, that there is a place for private musings, or enterprise, as well as group endeavors, for the sake of personal freedom. I don’t agree with everything he or Michelle Williamson says or does. To agree with everything they say or do publicly would be irrational and absurd. Luckily, I don’t need to in order to value the contribution each of them makes to public conversation.
Read about the Sister Giant conference in an interview between Marianne Williamson and Marianne Schnall in the Huffington Post, 11/9/12: