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Lions Roar : March 2019
Similarly, when we’re told there isn’t enough money to help the millions of Americans who live in poverty, but we can give billions to the wealthiest among us, we must be vocal about our basic belief that a society’s worth is measured in how we care for the most vulnerable, not how rich the rich get. In all these areas—and more—our nation needs to recall and once again lift up these deep values. With- out doing so, the small political changes we accomplish will only be bandages applied to a gaping wound. The worth of every spiritual tradition that constitutes the religious and moral diversity of our nation will be measured by how each one responds to this urgent call. It is not enough to simply embrace these values in our own hearts or a small corner of our immediate communities. As the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi told a gathering of Buddhist activists at Union Theological Seminary last year, we can- not simply “live a life of moral integrity, and cultivate thoughts of loving-kindness and compassion. It’s crucial for us to enter the sphere of action.” He bids us to boldly proclaim the basic values we believe should shape our country. At such a time as this, well-grounded, inclusive theological education is abso- lutely crucial. In order to address our country’s deep-seated injustices, we need well-trained spiritual leaders who are capable of articulating and defend- ing these values. Every day, I’m inspired by Union’s students and professors, as together they strive to create wise, com- passionate theology that addresses our world’s most pressing concerns with love, and move people to righteous action. With our new Master of Divinity pro- grams in Socially Engaged Buddhism and Islam & Social Justice, we’ve walked a step closer to creating the kind of multifaith, multiracial, multiethnic coalition we got a glimpse of in the November midterms. We could not be happier to have Lion’s Roar as a partner in this work of reignit- ing America’s moral conscience. Together we can be midwives to a better world. ♦ nation with a warring soul.” We find ourselves at a crossroads, the future still very much undetermined and long term positive outcomes far from assured. As Michelle Alexander wrote so poignantly in the New York Times last year, “A new nation is struggling to be born, a multi- racial, multiethnic, multifaith, egalitarian democracy in which every life and every voice truly matters.” As the leader of Union Theological Seminary, a historically Christian and increasingly inter-religious school of theology, I have never felt more strongly that, at a spiritual level, each and every one of us is called to serve as midwives to this birth, to usher in the more just future that hovers before us, upon the horizon. The work of midwifing this change will, yes, require carefully organized and persistent political change and policy transformation. But it will take more than this. The dysfunction in Washington and our state houses are symptoms of a deeper spiritual malady that plagues our nation. This sickness is revealed in our inabil- ity to recognize and honor all people’s sacred worth. Shockingly, it seems we are relitigating fundamental questions about what we owe one another, to the point that many Americans are openly ques- tioning whether all people are entitled to equal protection under the law. The tragic legacy of patriarchal white supremacy is rearing its head, it seems, at every turn. Since equality is fundamentally a moral and spiritual value, we should not be afraid to mobilize people of moral conscience and of faith to actively fight for it—as a moral and spiritual issue, and not merely a matter of momentary political combat. For example, to combat the influ- ence of racism in American public life, we must once again insist, on moral and religious grounds, that every life is of equal value and must be treated as such. Amidst a disintegrating climate, we must insist, publicly and faithfully, that all life is interconnected and that our existence is inextricably enmeshed with our plan- et’s delicate ecosystems. Residential Courses Online Programs Self-Study Cottages Insight Journal Access to Insight Onsite Library and more For course calendar and more information: Buddhistinquiry.org Founded in 1991, BCBS is a wooded 90-acre refuge in central Massachusetts for the study and practice of the dharma Connect personally with knowledgeable teachers and like-minded friends in small groups exploring multiple Buddhist traditions LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2019 16 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE