Messages From Carrie
More Thoughts About The Peaceable Kingdom, Love and Fear
September 22nd, 2008
There has been very interesting dialog on the message board on my website since my last blog. Thank you each and every one for your comments, encouragement or thoughts. Sitting here at my writing desk this morning, I look out at the beautiful autumn landscape. There is coolness to the air and a feeling of expectation. Autumn has always felt more like the beginning of something rather than the close of the year. The leaves in this part of the country begin to open wide with color. It’s like they have something beautiful, important and joyous to say before the quiet and reflective times of winter are upon us. Often I sense that same feeling of urgency in myself at this time of year.
I believe we are standing at a threshold personally, culturally and even globally. The actions we take, as a culture now will have such long lasting consequences. But cultures do not change until a growing number of its members have a personal change of heart. We tolerated laws that segregated the races and gave women no vote or voice in the political system until enough people believed that it was morally wrong and harmful to the health of a society to discriminate on the bias of race or gender. There was a change of heart then and it is possible for that kind of growth to continue. But it took individuals willing to stand up and call attention to injustice and speak the truth as clearly and bravely as they knew how. The stakes are so high. Those of us who still believe that we can call our environment back from the brink of disaster if we work now to preserve it, who believe that violence can only breed more violence, and feel strongly that poverty and injustice are moral issues, are stepping forward to say “A philosophy of fear does not speak for me” and asking “How can I be a force for positive change?”
I write about spiritual topic often in my songs. I do this because there is a deep spiritual current running through my life. To remove that from my writing would mean censoring an important part of how I walk in the world as a person and artist. I am fascinated with mystery and I deeply love and believe in the goodness to found in this world and all around us. I very deliberately write authentically and truthfully about my walk in this world, whether it is a song about a dream that the spirit of God breathed upon my window, my worse mistakes and failings, my deepest joy, or the dangers of email. To do anything less would be to create surface level art. The world has plenty of that and certainly doesn’t need me to create more. I sincerely affirm the separation of church and state. But I do acknowledge that an individual’s most cherished values and deeply held beliefs are powerful motivating forces within the political system. I believe that poverty is an issue of conscience, and so I am motivated to work for a more fair economic system and help for those in need. I believe that a person is born whole and sacred and worthy of respect and that we all carry the light of God within us. No individual’s piece of light is larger or smaller than another person’s bit of light, no matter his or her race, religion, gender, social class, sexual orientation or culture. We are equally loved and valuable. So I am motivated to work toward a more fair and inclusive world. One response to my last blog stated that Jesus was not a political figure. But I believe that ALL the great spiritual teachers of peace and justice have been in a sense political. Anyone who suggests we respond out of love and not out of violence or fear, or that it is possible to work toward a peaceable kingdom is incredibly political. It gets right at that change of heart I mentioned earlier. If a person believes that love is the greatest force and that we are entirely capable of living out of love and not fear, than usually that creates a desire to want to bring that love into the world more fully. Our most powerful activism always proceeds out of what we love most. Fear only gets us so far and then we burn out or get bitter or cynical. But love sustains, it glows like an ember even when we tired or discouraged. By activism I don’t mean only walking in protest marches. Activism is any manner of action that brings us closer to the peaceable kingdom. That may be taking direct political action in a campaign year, it may be working in the local soup kitchen, buying from a local farmer, it may mean taking the time to listen closely to child’s worries and concerns, it may mean teaching or taking food to a neighbor or writing an authentic song or simply counting to ten before responding when angry. I don’t always make the right choices or even say the right things, but I try to speak as respectfully but truthfully as I can. As an artist that is one of the ways I try to bring about positive change.
We live in troubling times, and call me a dreamer or **gasp** Quaker folksinger, but I have seen good people working very hard to make this country and this world a little kinder place. Not just one city or some towns or most places, but in every single community I visit I see evidence of goodness and mercy. I see reason to believe in the best and the not worst of who are. I see God in small things and unexpected places. And this gives me hope.
Lets continue our dialog –
Sept 22, 2008