Spiritual circles have long believed that each of us incarnates with a set of intentions, a design for how we want to grow, and what we want to accomplish in this lifetime. Every entity, even an individual country, has some kind of similar guidance system. America has a guiding template for what we can become, the seeds of which are planted in our founding documents. “Liberty and justice for all,” is a founding code, for example, as is E pluribus unum (“out of many, one”). Our country is coded with a mission to lean toward unity, to lean toward oneness. As the melting pot for the world, we integrate more cultures than any other country, creating unity from a great diversity of traditions, cultures, philosophies, and religions. This is our shared inheritance.
I believe we’re in service to creating unity not only within our own borders, but also on a planetary scale. We’re helping to reunify the human family. Our soul’s code is to create a divine template for how humans can function better together by designing a sacred world that works for everybody. Ideas such as liberty and equality and justice for all are some of the key codes for how we do this. Our expressions of these codes may still be imperfect, but they’re our North Star—what we’re leaning toward.
The transpartisan movement I write about in my book, Sacred America, Sacred World (Hampton Roads, 2016), respects different ideologies and recognizes that a higher identity is bringing us together—we are all ultimately global citizens, after all. The transpartisan is more interested in learning from different viewpoints and exploring possible solutions than simply trying to dominate with their view.
Sometimes taking a strong stand is needed, but we can do it from a deeper respect for others and for everyone’s right to have a different perspective—even if they don’t offer respect to us in return. Trying to have a dialogue with people who are not interested in dialogue is incredibly challenging. However, like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., we need to demonstrate a higher path, even when it’s difficult. Seeing the truth and value in each political perspective and working to create a dialogue makes us more whole. I call this political cross-training. It means dancing with different political positions rather than warring with them.
When someone is on a growth path, anything they’ve hidden about themselves is often the repository for blocked energies and unclaimed potential. The work of transformation first requires admitting what we’ve lied to ourselves about or what we’ve hidden and not wanted to own. This is the catalyst for birthing a more enlightened self. It’s the same way for a country. As Americans, we may feel extremely confident and innovative and bold, but we also have a bit of a shadow side, where we can get full of ourselves.
America has a great deal of power, but we haven’t come to terms with the ways we’ve misused our power. For example, the genocide of indigenous peoples is a massive, bleeding wound that we haven’t yet healed. Until we examine this wound, we remain prone to more arrogance and misuse of power. We also miss an opportunity to integrate the blessings of indigenous cultures. Native Americans have a much deeper reverence for planet Earth and nature and animals. They also have a deeper appreciation for the tribe instead of the individual. Integrating more of these values could help us create a more balanced and whole culture—and be more humble about the massive amount of power we wield.
The same process can be applied to slavery. Much of the racial tension we see in the United States today is an expression of this unhealed shadow. We haven’t done the amount of soul work Germany did after the Holocaust. Germans examined and owned their impulse toward greatness and the shadow side of how it manifested.
America needs to take care of this unfinished business in order to live in a sacred way. Moving forward requires us to take responsibility for healing this wound and compassionately address it while recognizing our shadow in creating it. The blessing will come when we open ourselves to more compassion and empathy. It inspires us to ask, “What can we do to rectify this? How do we improve things now?” instead of staying in this place of guilt and shame, which can paralyze us.
The idea of facing our shadow isn’t only about government—it’s also about business. In a sacred worldview, we see the divinity in all people. A truly sacred corporation generates a profit while being oriented to what is good for the whole, for everybody involved—not just stockholders or employees. We don’t have great examples right now of truly sacred, large-scale public corporations. However, the principles are getting built in through greater awareness of issues like banning child labor in other countries and being more environmentally sustainable.
I think we can redesign our system so we evoke more of that from our corporations by using incentives. If we have a bunch of purely self-interested and ultimately destructive incentives for corporations, they’re going to do bad things for the environment. But what if we had a conscious ratings tag on every piece of merchandise? It becomes transparent whether they are paying their people poorly or if they’re destroying the environment. You’ve got an objective rating of their practices.
It’s important not to always see corporations as negative. When we assume the term corporation is synonymous with bad or evil, we prevent it from evolving to the next level. We have to embrace the reality that corporations are still in their own state of evolution and keep aligning the incentives so they are more and more beneficial for everybody.
We’re still growing a more mature, sacred, wiser, fully empowered democracy. Instead of rejecting our society and judging it for not having found its full expression, we must acknowledge that it’s still growing and hold the faith that we can evolve to the next level.
Just as a great teacher will hold the faith that the misbehaving eighth-grader shooting spitballs has within him something greater and more beautiful, we can call forth more of the greatness latent in the American soul, corporations, and democracy.
There’s definitely a fair amount of spitball shooting going on in our collective right now. We must hold a unifying vision that politicians can get behind, and then we must identify the shifts we need to make to get there. Some big changes might take decades, but this is part of a natural evolutionary momentum. Eventually, we will grow up and get beyond the spitball phase to become more conscious and caring adults who create a truly wise political movement.