U.S. Representative Dennis J. Kucinich
Praxis Peace Institute Conference
Sunday, June 9, 2002
Spirit and Stardust
As one studies the images of the Eagle Nebula, brought
back by the Hubble Telescope from that place in deep space where stars
are born, one can imagine the interplay of cosmic forces across space
and time, of matter and spirit dancing to the music of the spheres,
atop an infinite sea of numbers.
Spirit merges with matter
to sanctify the universe. Matter transcends to return to spirit. The
interchangeability of matter and spirit means the starlit magic of
the outermost life of our universe becomes the soul-light magic of
the innermost life of our self. The energy of the stars becomes us.
We become the energy of the stars. Stardust and spirit unite and we
begin: One with the universe. Whole and holy. From one source, endless
creative energy, bursting forth, kinetic, elemental. We, the earth,
air, water and fire-source of nearly fifteen billion years of cosmic
We begin as a perfect
union of matter and spirit. We receive the blessings of the Eternal
from sky and earth. In our outstretched hands we can feel the energy
of the universe. We receive the blessings of the Eternal from water,
which nourishes and sanctifies life. We receive the blessings of the
Eternal from the primal fire, the pulsating heart of creation. We
experience the wonder of life multidimensional and transcendent. We
extend our hands upwards and we are showered with abundance. We ask
and we receive. A universe of plenty flows to us, through us. It is
in us. We become filled with endless possibilities.
We need to remember where
we came from; to know that we are one. To understand that we are of
an undivided whole: race, colour, nationality, creed, gender are beams
of light, refracted through one great prism. We begin as perfect and
journey through life to become more perfect in the singularity of
"I" and in the multiplicity of "we"; a more perfect union of
matter and spirit. - - This is human striving. This is where, in Shelley's
words, " . . . hope creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates."
This is what Browning spoke of: Our 'reach exceeding [our] grasp'.
This is a search for heaven within, a quest for our eternal home.
In our soul's Magnificat,
we become conscious of the cosmos within us. We hear the music of
peace, we hear the music of co-operation, we hear music of love. We
hear harmony, a celestial symphony. In our soul's forgetting, we become
unconscious of our cosmic birthright, plighted with disharmony, disunity,
torn asunder from the stars in a disaster well-described by Matthew
Arnold in Dover Beach: " . . . the world, which seems to lie before
us like a land of dreams, so various, so beautiful, so new, hath really
neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude nor peace, nor help
for pain. And we are here, as on a darkling plain, swept with confused
alarms of struggle and flight, where ignorant armies clash by night."
Today Dover Beach is upon
the shores of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. Our leaders think
the unthinkable and speak of the unspeakable inevitability of nuclear
war; of a nuclear attack on New York City, of terrorist attacks throughout
our nation; of war against Iraq using nuclear weapons; of biological
and chemical weapon attacks on civilian populations; of catastrophic
global climate change; of war in outer space.
When death (not life)
becomes inevitable, we are presented with an opportunity for great
clarity, for a great awakening, to rescue the human spirit from the
arms of Morpheus through love, through compassion and through integrating
spiritual vision and active citizenship to restore peace to our world.
The moment that one world is about to end, a new world is about to
begin. We need to remember where we came from. Because the path home
is also the way to the future.
In the city I represent
in the United States Congress, there is a memorial to Peace, named
by its sculptor, Marshall A. Fredericks the "Fountain of Eternal Life".
A figure rises from the flames, his gaze fixed to the stars, his hands
positioned sextant-like, as if measuring the distance. Though flames
of war from the millions of hearts and the dozens of places wherein
it rages, may lick at our consciousness, our gaze must be fixed upward
to invoke universal principles of unity, of co-operation, of compassion,
to infuse our world with peace, to ask for the active presence of
peace, to expand our capacity to receive it and to express it in our
everyday life. We must do this fearlessly and courageously and not
breathe in the poison gas of terror. As we receive, so shall we give.
As citizen-diplomats of
the world, we send peace as conscious expression where ever, whenever
and to whomever it is needed: to the Middle East, to the Israelis
and the Palestinians, to the Pakistanis and the Indians, to Americans
and Al Qaeda, and to the people of Iraq, and to all those locked in
deadly combat. And we fly to be with the bereft, with those on the
brink, to listen compassionately, setting aside judgment and malice
to become peacemakers, to intervene, to mediate, to bring ourselves
back from the abyss, to bind up the world's wounds.
As we aspire to universal
brotherhood and sisterhood, we harken to the cry from the heart of
the world and respond affirmatively to address through thought, word
and deed conditions which give rise to conflict: Economic exploitation,
empire building, political oppression, religious intolerance, poverty,
disease, famine, homelessness, struggles over control of water, land,
minerals, and oil.
We realize that what affects
anyone, anywhere affects everyone, everywhere. As we help others to
heal, we heal ourselves. Our vision of interconnectedness resonates
with new networks of world citizens in nongovernmental organizations
linking from numberless centres of energy, expressing the emergence
of a new organic whole, seeking unity within and across national lines.
New transnational web-based email and telecommunications systems transcend
governments and carry within them the power of qualitative transformation
of social and political structures and a new sense of creative intelligence.
If governments and their leaders, bound by hierarchy and patriarchy,
wedded to military might for legitimacy, fail to grasp the implications
of an emerging world consciousness for cooperation, for peace and
for sustainability, they may become irrelevant.
As citizen-activists the
world over merge, they can become an irresistible force to create
peace and protect the planet. From here will come a new movement to
abolish nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction. From
here will come the demand for sustainable communities, for new systems
of energy, transportation and commerce. From here comes the future
rushing in on us.
How does one acquire the
capacity for active citizenship? The opportunities exist every day.
In Cleveland, citizens have developed the ability to intercede when
schools are scheduled to be closed, and have kept the schools open;
to rally to keep hospitals open; to save industries which provide
jobs; to protect neighbourhood libraries from curtailment of service,
to improve community policing; to meet racial, ethnic and religious
intolerance openly and directly.
Active citizenship begins
with an envisioning of the desired outcome and a conscious application
of spiritual principles. I know. I have worked with the people in
my own community. I have seen the dynamic of faith in self, faith
in one's ability to change things, faith in one's ability to prevail
against the odds through an appeal to the spirit of the world for
help, through an appeal to the spirit of community for participation,
through an appeal to the spirit of cooperation, which multiplies energy.
I have seen citizens challenge conditions without condemning anyone,
while invoking principles of non-opposition and inclusion of those
I have seen groups of
people overcome incredible odds as they become aware they are participating
in a cause beyond self and sense the movement of the inexorable which
comes from unity. When you feel this principle at work, when you see
spiritual principles form the basis of active citizenship, you are
reminded once again of the merging of stardust and spirit. There is
creativity. There is magic. There is alchemy.
Citizens across the United
States are now uniting in a great cause to establish a Department
of Peace, seeking nothing less than the transformation of our society,
to make non-violence an organizing principle, to make war archaic
through creating a paradigm shift in our culture for human development,
for economic and political justice and for violence control. Its work
in violence control will be to support disarmament, treaties, peaceful
coexistence and peaceful consensus building. Its focus on economic
and political justice will examine and enhance resource distribution,
human and economic rights and strengthen democratic values.
Domestically, the Department
of Peace would address violence in the home, spousal abuse, child
abuse, gangs, police-community relations conflicts and work with individuals
and groups to achieve changes in attitudes that examine the mythologies
of cherished world views, such as 'violence is inevitable' or 'war
is inevitable'. Thus it will help with the discovery of new selves
and new paths toward peaceful consensus.
The Department of Peace
will also address human development and the unique concerns of women
and children. It will envision and seek to implement plans for peace
education, not simply as a course of study, but as a template for
all pursuits of knowledge within formal educational settings.
Violence is not inevitable.
War is not inevitable. Nonviolence and peace are inevitable. We can
make of this world a gift of peace which will confirm the presence
of universal spirit in our lives. We can send into the future the
gift which will protect our children from fear, from harm, from destruction.
Carved inside the pediment
which sits atop the marble columns is a sentinel at the entrance to
the United States House of Representatives. Standing resolutely inside
this "Apotheosis of Democracy" is a woman, a shield by her left side,
with her outstretched right arm protecting a child happily sitting
at her feet. The child holds the lamp of knowledge under the protection
of this patroness.
This wondrous sculpture
by Paul Wayland Bartlett, is entitled "Peace Protecting Genius". Not
with nuclear arms, but with a loving maternal arm is the knowing child
Genius shielded from harm. This is the promise of hope over fear.
This is the promise of love which overcomes all. This is the promise
of faith which overcomes doubt. This is the promise of light which
overcomes darkness. This is the promise of peace which overcomes war.
Dennis J. Kucinich