Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A politics of care, concern and an economy of hospitality, thoughts of a good heart


The title of this blog,  A politics of care, concern and an economy of hospitality, longings of a good heart emerges out my reflections on the passover and a book entitled, The Good Heart, A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and The Soul of Politics by Jim Wallis.  It also emerges out of living life engaged in a society where the norms are grounded in exploitation and rejection, where who I am is a means of profit and political gain.

"Only a prophetic morality has the capacity to transcend old ideological categories and forge new relationships and connections between people and issues.  Out of these new configurations of moral concern will come the creative political initiatives we so desperately need." Jim Wallis -The Soul of politics

One day while walking the streets of Berkeley I encountered a man who happened to be without a home.  He looked to be sincere as he asked for money for food.  Many people had passed him by, looking away.   They were seemingly walking in a state of denial, saying, no, don’t acknowledge this human being or his plight.  Seeing this I gave him a few dollars to help him out.  Months later while on BART a man came up to me and said, “You don’t remember me but you gave me a few dollars when I was down and out.  Thank you!   He was now dressed in a nice suit and tie going to work and no longer homeless.

Reflecting on this chance encounter I am reminded that care and concern are nourishment for the heart and soul and it is through care and concern that we make a difference in ourselves, our families, jobs, communities, our economy and politics.  That said, I rise each day beginning in prayer.  I seek a good heart with a large helping of grace and mercy so that I would live openly a revolutionary faith.   Moving through the day I meet people and communities who have significant needs.  The needs are deep, dynamic, diverse, at times hidden in the shadows and at times complex, they are inclusive, impacting every level of U.S. American society.   Communities of God’s people with HIV/Aids, cancer, challenges of mental health and various concerns of gender, sexuality, race, economy and politics. 

These communities exist within a very narrow mindset within contemporary U.S. culture.    They exist in a context of othering which controls discourses of identity, economy and the political.  Within this unfortunate sociocultural climate, care and concern become a healing balm with revolutionary implications.  Historically, care and concern have been the origin of many revolutions ranging from the French revolution (1789 - 1799) to the Iranian revolution (1978).  These revolutions emerge as the power structures in place dismiss those who identify as the other, who deny any notion of hospitality, i.e. access to those structures which support the various endeavors of human sustainability.   Hospitality, particularly within a discourse on economy invites a question of attention. 

From a social justice perspective, care and concern within a progressive conversation regarding attention becomes significant policy considerations regarding the distribution of wealth and resources.  I suggest here that this is a critical witness towards the transformation of human sustainability within the principles of revolutionary faith.  It is about structures of economy and politics in regard to those who have been disenfranchised and marginalized.  This is a significant contrast with regard to the structures of capitalism which advocate for an American gilded age where a few oligarchs reap profits as factors of credibility decreed by a supreme court on the backs of millions upon millions of low income non union wage workers.  What I mean is that capitalism, while on the surface seems liberating and ultra individualistic, actually has significant challenges regarding the usage of our neighbor as a means to survival and capital; it’s pretty selfish as practiced by some in the U.S. American context today.  Community within a context of capitalism runs the real risk of becoming a place of profit and ultimately abusive to the soul. 

That said, as a society, we invest a significant amount of time and money in systems that enable us to live in states of denial, in a peculiar unconsciousness that protects us from the storms and struggles of life, to limit our vulnerability to the fullness of life and as such to those deeper realities of consciousness, even the experience of existence as it is. [1] We necessarily minimize and restrict care and concern, and advocate, by a narrowness of mind, for a cave mentality, scared to walk into the sunlight of liberation.  For as much as this mentality frames a discourse on so called U.S. American progress care and concern are a means to say, come out, come, wherever you are. 

In closing this initial blog post of The Community of Revolutionary Faith advocates for an economy of hospitality grounded in the care and concerns of those on the margins, the disenfranchised, the impoverished and those that feel that no one cares or listens. 


[1] From a talk given by Adyashanti:  The Inner Revolution of Spiritual Awakening, October 22, 2010 accessed April 27, 2014.