As the world struggles with complex and serious crises (including the cruel violence of Daesh, the deplorable plight of fleeing migrants from Syria and other places of poverty and conflict and the problem of energy supplies in the context of climate change) the words of an ancient proverb seem strangely pertinent: “without vision the people perish”.
We seem to be at a time in history that is waiting for a new vision and for courageous visionary leadership. There was the hope that President Obama could be such a leader but it seems his vision has been constrained and constricted by vested interests and a political system that seems to thwart compassionate change. Even so Obamas words concerning Daesh at a recent UN speech seem pertinent: “Ideologies are not defeated with guns. They are defeated with better ideas – a more attractive and compelling vision.”
Where is such a vison? Where is the leader with vision, courage and the skill to imagine and guide the world beyond the unsustainable selfishness and materialism of the neoliberal global capitalistic project to a more compassionate and equal future? Where is the vision and the will to guide beyond a situation where a tiny proportion of the world’s population accumulates vast wealth and the expense of everyone else? In part it is this neoliberal project that feeds violence and both religious and nationalistic fundamentalism, or at least gives the excuse to pursue violent and cruel practices – although in truth these are inexcusable.
It seems to me that it is the spiritual impulse that seeks a more compelling vision. Certainly within the ancient texts of the Judaeo-Christian tradition (as well as others) in amongst the honest human narrative that contains so much pain and violence there is a vision of something more beautiful, good, truthful, loving and compassionate. There is a vision that invites an evolution towards peace, justice and harmony.
One spiritual grouping that offers a more attractive and compelling vision and a plan is the Network for Spiritual Progressives who propose steps towards a ‘Caring Society – Caring for Each Other and Caring for the Earth’. This is outlined in the Global Marshall Plan, a plan for all the world’s people to work in solidarity to eliminate poverty and to heal the environmental crisis.