Rabbi Michael Lerner Reflects "After Paris"

November 16, 2015
Rabbi Michael Lerner Reflects "After Paris"

Rabbi Michael Lerner offers a powerful commentary on the conditions that foster extremist violence, including the latest horrors in Paris and Beirut. Read an excerpt below, or find the complete article at Tikkun.

AFTER PARIS: A World That Has Lost Its Ethical Direction & Spiritual Foundation and a Media that Cheerleads for Fear and Militarism

By Rabbi Michael Lerner

For many years, we at Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives have warned that the domination and power-over strategies to achieve “homeland security” have been tried for over 7,000 years and all they have produced is more wars and violence, interspersed with short periods of peace that have, with the help of the sensationalist and natioanlist  media and professional apologists for the existing inequalities, managed to hide from public view the degree of covert structural violence that every system of inequality and domination embodies. (Please read Cynthia Moe-Lobeda’s important study Resisting Structural Evil–Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation published by Fortress Press to get a full understanding of how deeply our own daily lives in Western societies are built on the exploitation and impoverishment of people around the world).

We  have called for a new approach to “homeland security”—the Strategy of Generosity, as manifested in part in our proposed Global Marshall Plan (please download the full version and read it at www.tikkun.org/gmp). Until the powerful countries of the world are seen as mainly driven by a desire to care for the well-being of everyone else on the planet and the wellbeing of the planet itself, and care not only out of self-interest but also out of a new consciousness in which we all come to truly understand our mutual interdependence and oneness, what we saw in Paris this past week is destined to be an increasing reality in the coming decades.

The Global Marshall Plan we support would have the U.S. take the leadership with the advanced industrial countries of the world in working with local communities throughout the developing world, donating 1-2% of our Gross Domestic Product each year for the next twenty to once and for all end (not must ameliorate) global poverty, hunger, homelessness, inadequate education, and inadequate health care–and repair the damage done to the environment of 150 years of irresponsible forms of economic development sponsored by colonial and imperialist and materialist oriented capitalist, socialist and communist societies alike.

This is a central part of a Strategy of Generosity, but it goes well beyond this to involve a massive recentering of our energies toward healing and repairing the damage that our global economic system has generated, changing our international trade agreements so that they no longer disadvantage the poorest people in the world while advantaging our multinationals, and many other reparative steps.

Instead, we are moving toward doing more damage in response to terrorism. The more fear of “the Other,” the more resentment and anger those others will have toward us, and the cycle of violence will become more a part of daily life not only where it already is (mostly in the countries of the Global South and East), but also in the advanced industrial countries. As fear grows, fascistic and racist right-wing forces will grow more popular, their anti-immigrant policies will be portrayed as “common sense,” their empowering of domestic intelligence forces to invade our private lives will  receive greater support,  because people will never have heard an alternative path to security as supposedly liberal leaders seek to show that they too can be “tough.” You need only listen to Hillary and Bernie competing for who can sound more like the most interventionist and pro-militaristic response to the horrendous loss of human life in Paris to see the foreign policy future of the U.S.

Yet for those of us in the spiritual or religious world, the Torah command to “love the stranger” still resonates, so we are impelled, even while condemning unequivocally the terrorist acts of ISIS, to seek to understand how we might limit the ability of these haters to win new support as the US, France, Russia and others engage in drone attacks that have already killed more innocent civilians in Syria and Iraq than were killed by the terrorists in France. Healing of our world requires psycho-spiritual sophistication to combat tthe terrorists’ appeal to those who have suffered from the West’s past militarism and the structural violence built into the global capitalist system, on the one hand, and to combat the way that the terrorists generate support in the West for new levels of fear-generated militarism which then keeps the cycle of violence repeating and intensifying. That path is a path of love toward the people of the world and then policies that embody that love. Not policies of hunting for and expelling from the U.S. or European countries the many “undocumented workers” who escaped the economic or political violence in their own countries only to become suspects and hunted in the advanced industrial countries, yet that is what many out of fear are supporting in Western countries even before the Paris carnage, and more so now.

Read the complete article at Tikkun.