3.  Radical Change

And that response was .....?

Well, what I’m about to describe is a gross oversimplification, but I guess any time you try to reduce inner feelings to words that’s bound to happen.

I see the basic human condition at present to be one of relative unconsciousness. We think we’re awake but we’re mostly sleep-walking. I have a basic sense that we are all very inter-connected in spirit but are fooled by the limits of our physical bodies and the privacy of our thoughts and emotions into thinking that we are completely and utterly separate from one another.

In very special moments, I think most of us feel that sense of interconnectedness in a very clear way. It might come at a time when we’re viewing a spectacular sunset, when a child is born, when we feel very close to a friend, when we’re engaged in prayer, or when we have read something particularly inspiring.

The emotions that accompany that kind of realization can be sweeping and uplifting, but they tend not to stay with us for great lengths of time. We’re left with a memory, sort of like the scent of perfume that’s left in the air even after the bearer of the perfume has left the room.

I’ve become quite convinced that this interconnectedness is a reality and not merely a memory. When I look back at those questions about God, love, injustice and violence, I think about what our world might be like if we acted in accordance with that reality.  We would love more expansively, and we couldn’t commit injustices and violence against one another because to do so would be the same as committing violence against ourselves.

The world’s not going to change by a bunch of "radicals" changing our institutions. That changes nothing. There’s a song by the Who, called "Don’t Get Fooled Again," which has a line that goes something like "Here’s the new boss, same as the old boss."

The word "radical" means "root," and the only way the world is going to change fundamentally is to go to the root of the problem, which is ourselves. There are wars and violence in the world, in my opinion, because we individuals have a strong tendency to feel ourselves to be separate and different from one another. It’s easy to push someone out of the way when crowding into a subway car when you think of the person you’re pushing as being an object or obstacle rather than a soul. Because this kind of treatment can and does exist on the individual level, all of our individual contributions combine to form an environment where similar treatment can exist at the level of groups against groups and nations against nations.