The recent confirmation fight over Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Associate Supreme Court Justice underscores the deep and ugly divide within our country. Some will justify and defend a man with unquestionably questionable moral, emotional, and ‘truth-telling’ compasses. Others will vehemently argue that his past behaviors cannot be justified under any circumstances. But we should all agree with total certainty that his ascension to the Supreme Court bench will now undermine the legitimacy of our judicial system (and its rulings) with unprecedented, divisive partisanship for an entire generation. Kavanaugh’s confirmation also sends an unmistakable message to Americans: that those in power viewed winning this disputed and controversial confirmation as more important than the dignity of women; more important than our trust in the Court as an unbiased and non-political institution; and more important than the notion that non-partisan principled leadership should prevail. What a sad statement about the deteriorating, combative condition of our Republic and of humanity’s worst instincts more generally.
Lest we think that the legitimacy of this nation’s highest Court is the only sobering and divisive trend of late, let me disabuse us all of that notion. Frightening Mega-Trends are everywhere around us–if only we’ll take the time to see what’s painfully obvious to the naked eye. For example, in just the last few days, we’ve learned that global warming trends are ominously speeding up. Based on updated climate change research, we’ll probably begin to experience potentially devastating and catastrophic effects far sooner than we initially thought possible, by as early as 2030. Entire regions of our earth may become uninhabitable ‘dead zones’. The specters of mass food and water shortages, forced migration of millions of people, unremitting floods, massive fires, droughts, super storms, and partial extinctions are on the horizon for not just our grandchildren. But for our children and ourselves, as well. We’re hopelessly and recklessly trying to separate ourselves from our planet’s health and other living things. And in the process, we’re literally killing each other here. In real time.
That’s not all. Global disparities in wealth continue to widen. While strides have admittedly been made throughout the world in mitigating extreme poverty (something we should heartily applaud), far too many people are unable to earn even a living wage. The global economic recovery is benefiting the richest far more than the vast, vast majority of our global populations. And the gap continues to grow. A rising tide does not lift all boats, despite the alluring ‘call’ of those who preach the prosperity gospel of economics. And we’re not separated solely by our relative wealth. Our socio-economic divisions are further exacerbated by our other hate-fueled separations along the lines of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, immigrant status, and age.
We’re isolated by our technology, as well. The very devises meant to connect us to each other are actually keeping us apart. We’re increasingly buried in our screens of false ‘communion’. We’re lonely. We’re alone. And we’re learning that the promise of technology-driven community was a ruse all along. Even our religions, which were created to bring us together, are being ‘weaponized’ with intensifying rapidity. Far too often, our religions separate us by sects, exclusive dogmas, and narrow political interests on divisive issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. At its very worst, the political bastardization of legitimate religions can be used by a few to foment death-ladened violence in the name of terroristic revolution around the world.
If you’re frightened by these trends, you should be. If you’re not, you’re ignoring the unmistakable reality before us right now. In the mad dash to better understand these trends, it’s easy to examine their surface-level causes. For example, it’s a simple proposition to argue that power is winning versus principles these days. If you posited this argument, you’d be right. You’d be correct if you proposed that partisanship is destroying compromise. You’d be spot-on if you said that narrow, single-issue advocacy is pulling us apart. That disempowering ourselves through special interest lobbying groups has now left us impotent and divided. You’d also be right if you argued that some are sublimating certain aspects of their religions to overtly political agendas—making our denominations simply another form of divisive advocacy in certain instances. You’d be correct if you believe that all these things are helping to cause the disintegration of true human community in our country and our world. And contributing to the many destructive mega-trends that I’ve previously outlined here.
But I wonder if these ‘causal factors’ aren’t merely surface level ones. Convenient but lacking in any depth or dimension. Because they utterly fail to more deeply and honestly explore the underlying, real causes. Hanging onto this superficial-level causality is something akin to the difference between Knowledge and Wisdom. For the aforementioned causal factors are examples of nothing more than having some Knowledge. Knowledge and information tell us something about ourselves, to be sure. But knowledge doesn’t really explain anything. It’s like an information-set. Like a stack of data on a table. Bits and bites. It may inform us. But it doesn’t enlighten us. It tells us something more about our current state. But it satisfies like a cheap, sugary snack. We think we’re full, but we’re really still hungering for something more substantial. Knowledge, alone, is enticingly ‘sweet’, but it offers little nourishment. Because it simply informs. Something far more important is still missing.
What’s missing isn’t more information. Instead, it’s the application of Wisdom. Wisdom is discerning. It guides us not merely to surface answers. But leads us to greater clarity. To a better way. It refuses to stop with awareness, and strives for understanding. It relies on verifiable experience, not simply on intellectual smartness. It implies acting responsibility, not solely using one’s skills. It invokes reasoning, not merely looking for reasons. It transcends differentiating things and strives, instead, for making a real difference. It stands not on knowing things better than others, but rather on making things better for us all. For these reasons, we need more wisdom and less knowledge. We need more discernment, reflection, and meditation on our human and institutional differences—not simply more talking points and pundits about our divided society. We need more clarity, not the convenient, but sloppy, use of words and supposed, exclusive ‘truths’. In all of this, we need wisdom. And this wisdom must be grounded in shared universal values such as human dignity, respect, equality, compassion, grace, generosity, integrity, caring community, and responsible stewardship. Real wisdom is built on these principles. It is nurtured and nourished by these principles. And it’s guided by these principles.
Adopting a wisdom-based world-view isn’t simply an intellectual and theoretical exercise, either. For we’ll be forever separated from each other as human beings if we don’t actively and affirmatively change our ‘economy’. We’ll be forever imprisoned by the frightening specter of today’s divisive, self-destructive mega-trends if we don’t act to change our ‘economy’. We’ll be literally doomed by the self-induced implosion of our world society if we don’t do something to change our ‘economy’. To clarify here, I don’t mean economy in the usual sense of the word. Now to be sure, changing our economy does imply making a sizable investment. And this investment may cost some real money. It will certainly entail significant, shared sacrifices and changes in heart. But it cannot be monetized. For if the real causes of our potential divided demise aren’t some superficial, dumbed-down factors, the solutions demand the concerted, committed investment of human wisdom. Strong, enduring, and foundational wisdom that is built on shared human values. What’s more, those values must, themselves, be grounded in a single seed.
This single seed is the only real source and grounding of our salvation as a human people and as a living earth. That seed is nothing less than Love. Love creates all things. It holds all things. It gives meaning to all things. It guides all things. It saves all things. It includes all things. It subsumes all things within it—even when we can’t agree on all the specifics of information, wisdom, and underlying values. It’s the glue that knits all things together. It’s the bond that commits us to each other. It’s the fundamental building block for any real, viable solutions to our societal problems of division. To any lasting salvation. To any real hope. Unless we begin grounding all things and every decision in Love, we are lost. Our human obituary will surely read:
“We were here. We tried but we failed. We left a lot of things behind. But we didn’t love enough. We didn’t love each other. We didn’t love the earth. We didn’t love our God. In turn, we destroyed ourselves, destroyed our planet, and destroyed everything around us. We learned the lesson too late, we’re afraid. Please don’t make the same mistake that we did. So when you find and read this, don’t forget to love more. We wished we had…’’
Fortunately for us, it’s not too late. It’s getting feverishly close, but it’s still not too late. Not too late to change our global ‘economy’ to one of Love. Love in all things. Love in all places. Love for all peoples. Love in all choices and in all decisions. This kind of love will be costly. It’s truly radical. It’s never been done before by human beings. But, as the destructive and divisive mega-trends continue to swirl around us, it’s our one and only chance. Our one and only opportunity to beat-back the tide of the cannibalistic feeding frenzy that’s sowing the seeds of our very extinction. We already know the outcome of doing the same things that we’re currently doing. Given this, are we willing to do something different for a change? Are we willing to exhibit the full-on and sustained vision and courage necessary to make this change? We’ll do so when, and only when, we embrace the one true Seed of our Salvation. We’ll do so when, and only when, we adopt radical, transformational, far more unconditional, expansive, and inclusive kinds of Love in this world. When, and only when, we plant this seed of Love firmly in our global ‘soil’. Then nurture it. Embrace it. Live by it. Feed on it. Share it. And be sustained in all things by it.
Admittedly, no single one of us can plant all the seeds of Love that we so desperately need in this world. And we certainly can’t do it alone. But we must begin immediately and do so together. Without delay. Then stay on it together with our very highest levels of sustained focus, urgency, and energy. Simply put, we must treat this matter as if our very lives depend on it. Because, in fact and in truth, they do. They really do…