The Spiritual r3VOLution Inspired by Ron PaulSubmitted by Michael Nystrom on Sun, 01/27/2013 - 18:02
[Note: This essay was originally published 2008-09-09, shortly after my return from the 2008 RNC. Thanks to friend and moderator photoshopwiz for serendipitously bringing it back to my attention today, at a time when I am searching and wondering about the purpose and mission of the Daily Paul going forward.]
Yesterday I said that my involvement in Ron Paul's campaign began as a political quest, but it has grown into a spiritual one. Spiritual questions are fundamental, eternal, and can only be answered by each individual. Who am I? Why am I here? What is this whole thing – life, the universe, everything - about? What happens to me when I die?
Not wanting to ask these difficult questions, most of us keep ourselves distracted nearly every waking hour. The media-entertainment complex takes advantage of our fear and desire to be distracted by offering up an endless loop of amusements: Cell-phones, video games, iPods, Blackberries (so you’re never out of touch, lest you have a silent moment – God forbid – to think, ponder or reflect upon your life!), movies, gossip, and of course "news." One of the biggest distractions of all is our political system, which has devolved into a system to divide and conquer Americans by appealing to our base, tribal natures and turn otherwise friendly neighbors against one another by focusing on differences rather than similarities.
The two parties may talk slightly differently and have different “platforms,” but by their actions and the fruits of their labors, they reveal themselves to be the same. They choose the most minor (but divisive) molehills to blow into the most outrageous mountains. Members of each party then claim those mountains as their own, climb atop them and fling stones and arrows at the other side. It accomplishes nothing but ego gratification for the participants and a tremendous, draining, emotional distraction for the spectators in the peanut gallery who think they have nothing better to do but propagate the same arguments they see on TV within their personal circle of friends, colleagues and family. Serious questions and debate get thrown under the bus.
But one thing to remember about this place – this place we all find ourselves together – is that no one gets out of here alive. We all share the exact same destiny, and that destiny is death. You’ll rarely have anyone on TV remind you of that – the whole point of the idiot box it to distract you from the ultimate destiny that you’re moving closer towards with each passing day.
To quote the Flaming Lips,
do you realize?
Scary, isn’t it? So it is no wonder we distract ourselves with all manner of false concerns, blowing molehills into mountains, getting angry and emotional about all manner of trivia that at the end of your life won’t amount anything. You know the drill – just look at your life. Most people tiptoe through life on their way to death, not wanting to offend people, not wanting to get yelled at, not wanting hurt other people’s feelings, not wanting to get their own feelings hurt. It is a constant state of fear, and in order to avoid facing that fear, they “go along to get along.”
Some people might say it is depressing to talk about death. But understanding that there is no way to avoid your destiny can bring a new clarity of purpose to your life. You have only one life to live, what do you choose do with it?
Ron Paul sees with clarity the purpose of his life, but it was not until I experienced the cutthroat world of real politics at the RNC that I developed an entirely new level of respect for him. It takes courage to endure what Dr. Paul has endured. He is a human being, just like you. But how many of us have ever stopped to think how would it feel to stand alone in Congress, time and time again? How would it feel to face the laughter, ridicule, and mockery that he faced during the presidential debates? Would you be able to go toe-to-toe with Giuliani and patiently, kindly, and lovingly explain the roots of terrorism as a packed theatre crowd mocks you?
A word on love
One of the things that kept me sane on the plane ride home from Minneapolis was a book that my friend Brad, fellow MA alternate and all around good guy, gave me to read called The Servant. Among other things, it addresses a point of great confusion for most people regarding loving one's enemies.
How can you love an ax murderer, after all? It was in The Servant that I found the distinction of what this means. The Greeks had five words for love: eros, erotic love; storgé, love for family members; philos, brotherly / reciprocal love and finally, agapé – an unconditional love rooted in behavior towards others without regard to their due. In other words, do unto others as they would have them do unto you, regardless of how you feel about them personally.
What a blunt instrument the English language is, having only one word to cover so many distinct concepts!
When Jesus speaks of ‘love’ in the New Testament, he speaks of agapé, the love of behavior and choice, not of feeling. In this sense, to love your neighbor or your enemy (agapé) means to show them the same patience, kindness, humility, respect, selflessness, forgiveness, and honesty – regardless of whether you agree with them or not. Just as Dr. Paul does. He treats everyone – friends and opponents alike – with the same patience, kindness, humility, respect, forgiveness and honesty that constitute agapé love.
If I learned nothing more last week in Minneapolis, I learned this. All of this is more than just about electing presidents, and whether or not you’re going to join or leave the Republican Party. After the big vote, one of the MA delegates was telling me the story of what happened, through tears of sorrow and pain: “Before we came to Minneapolis, I never had any idea that all of this would happen – that it would all come down to this!”
We all share the exact same destiny. Most of the events that occur in your life are out of your control. The actions of other people are out of your control. Life’s best laid plans can all be shot to hell by some random, completely unpredictable event that blindsides you a Tuesday afternoon. Through all of this, the only thing that we have full control over is who we are going to be through all of it. They may laugh, jeer and ridicule you, but they cannot take away what you believe in and what you stand for. Only you can give that away.
Above everything, this is what Ron Paul has taught me. Not with words, but by demonstrating it with his own actions and his own life.