Sunday, April 08, 2007

Words of Power #34: Religion, Politics and Business: The Dalai Lama, MLK and the Importance of Dennis Kucinich

Image: White Buffalo Calf Woman and the Sacred Pipe (Marcine Quenzer)

“Once we take steps to help create conditions of a world as one, we then become aware of and participate in the inter- connectedness and the inter- dependence of all beings. Then we begin to arrive at an understanding that war represents a disconnection from this common voyage we share on this planet, that war becomes a condition not just to be avoided, but a condition that is foreign to us . . . The forces of destruction and creativity exist simultaneously. The question is, which one of those forces do we wish to work through us? ... This is a pivotal moment in the history of this country, indeed it’s a pivotal moment in human history.” Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), 3-31-07

Words of Power #34: Religion, Politics and Business: The Dalai Lama, MLK and the Importance of Dennis Kucinich

By Richard Power

NOTE: Words of Power is not yet endorsing any candidate for President of the USA in 2008. I strongly believe the fate of the Republic could well be decided long before then, in the next few months, and has more to do with the current US Congress than any of the 2008 candidates. Nevertheless, there is a Words of Power short list, it includes three announced candidates and two others who have not and may not enter the race. The issues discussed in this post transcend domestic politics.

My business is risk, security and intelligence.

The conventional wisdom of corporate culture says, "Never mix business with politics," "Never mix politics with religion," and "Never mix politics and religion with business."

But when information warfare is used to perpetrate fraud in a national election (as in 2000 and 2004), what is a cyber security professional supposed to do?

When elected officials deny the reality of the greatest national security threat of our time (i.e., global warming) and their commissars attempt to silence government scientists (as has been done since 2001), what is a risk and security professional supposed to do?

When those same political leaders look the other way as the nation is attacked (9/11), and then, instead of relentlessly pursuing the perpetrators (Al Qaeda), they use the attack to pursue their own agenda of military adventurism abroad (Iraq and Iran) and the curtailment of Constitutional rights at home (e.g., Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, etc.), what is an intelligence professional supposed to do?

When a nation founded by Deists like Jefferson, Washington, Paine and Franklin is highjacked by religious extremists who claim to be Christians but have no understanding of the altruism, egalitarianism and non-violence of Jesus' teachings, what is any sane and responsible citizen supposed to do?

When scientific education and exploration (e.g., evolution and stem cell research) and human dignity (e.g., Terry Schiavo) are limited by cultish ideologues and pandering politicians, what is any decent person supposed to do?

Remember Bill Clinton's bridge to the 21st Century? Well, the USA and by extension the world community which had come to depend on it for leadership, was dragged kicking and screaming back across that bridge into the 20th Century and in some ways as far back as the 19th Century. Then, the bridge itself was blown up.

But there is hope. Perhaps even more than the fool's hope that Gandalf confessed to Pippin on the eve of a great battle in Tolkien's Lord of the Ring.

The force of history is against those that want to hold the world in the past, the force of nature too is against them; but ironically, perhaps the most powerful force arrayed against them is their own illness, hubris and delusion, which, in the end, as with most criminals, will probably be their undoing.

Here, deep into the first decade of the 21st Century, humanity is confronted with a crisis of security, sustainability and spirit; the Bush-Cheney regime, the Cult-formerly-known-as-the Republican-Party, and the Corporatist interests that both groupings front for, are not psychologically or morally capable of managing this crisis.

Religious extremists and corporatists do not have the psychological or spiritual resources, energy and balance required for the sweeping tasks at hand. Indeed, they themselves have become national and global security threats.

Nor is the USA the only superpower contributing in a negative way to this 21st Century security and sustainability crisis.

Consider this news item:

Some sections of a grim scientific assessment of the impact of global warming on human, animal and plant life issued in Brussels yesterday were softened at the insistence of officials from China and the United States, participants in the negotiations said . . .
In the course of negotiations over the report by the second working group of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, U.S. officials challenged the wording of a section suggesting that policymakers need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because countries will not be able to respond to climate change simply by using adaptive measures such as levees and dikes.
In that instance, the original draft read: "However, adaptation alone is not expected to cope with all the projected effects of climate change, and especially not over the long run as most impacts increase in magnitude. Mitigation measures will therefore also be required." That second sentence does not appear in the final version of the IPCC Summary for Policymakers.
Juliet Eilperin, U.S., China Got Climate Warnings Toned Down, Washington Post, 4-7-07

What will the future of the human race be if it is dictated in large part by the USA and China, and both great nations wholly succumb to corporatism and one-party-rule?

China, too, is guilty of crimes against the spirit as well as crimes against nature.

Consider this excerpt from a recent Der Spiegel story:

The Dalai Lama receives pilgrims from all over the world -- but the future of Tibet remains bleak. And Beijing is calculating that international interest in Tibet will dwindle once he dies . . . No progress is being made in the negotiations with the Chinese on the future of Tibet. Both sides have simply "clarified their positions" over the past three years, meaning that the Dalai Lama doesn't pursue independence any more. Now, as he told DER SPIEGEL in an interview, Beijing has signaled that it wants to continue the dialogue, but it hasn't set any timeframe for doing so.
Beijing is betting that time will work to its advantage. It obviously wants to wait patiently until Tibet has lost the Dalai Lama -- and the world has lost a teacher who for almost 50 years has acted as Tibet's greatest PR agent, establishing close contacts with Washington, Brussels and Hollywood.
The Chinese are calculating that once the 71-year-old passes away, Western interest in the mystical place that is Tibet will wane, the quest for Shangrila will cease and the political pressure on Beijing will melt away like the butter candles on the altars of the local monasteries.

Andreas Lorenz, AN AGING DALAI LAMA: Is Time Running Out for Tibet?, Der Spiegal, 3-30-07

Meanwhile, in the USA, two important media reform activists, Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon, have spoken out on the neutered storyline of MLK proffered over the airwaves:

The national news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for during his final years . . . after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights" - including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow. Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective . . . By 1967, King had also become the country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic . . .
From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, the U.S. was "on the wrong side of a world revolution." King questioned "our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America," and asked why the U.S. was suppressing revolutions "of the shirtless and barefoot people" in the Third World, instead of supporting them . . . In 2007, in this nation of immense wealth, the White House and most in Congress continue to accept the perpetuation of poverty. They fund foreign wars with "alacrity and generosity," while being miserly in dispensing funds for education, healthcare, and environmenal cleanup. And those priorities are largely unquestioned by mainstream media. No surprise that they tell us so little about the last years of Martin Luther King's life. Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon: The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV, Buzzflash, 4-4-07

Consider the contrast in popular culture between the late 1960s and today:

In the 1960s, Christianity meant William Sloan Coffin, Daniel Berrigan and MLK; but for the last decade or so, it has meant Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and yes, Ted Haggard.

In the 1960s, the face of black youth was activism, whether it was a Black Panther sporting a rifle and a beret or a SCLS marcher singing spirituals in the midst of fire-hoses and snarling dogs; but now, instead, bling-bling, gangsta rap, junk food and illicit drugs are pumped into the collective consciousness by elements within the entertainment industry.

Coincidences? Conspiracy theories? Go back to the day Reagan was sworn in and build your own timeline. You will see it.

I say that the crisis we face here in the 21st Century is one of spirit as well as security and sustainability because mitigating and adapting to this convergence of threats (e.g., global warming, nuclear proliferation, over-population, peak oil, etc.) demands an unprecedented psychological and spiritual commitment on both a personal level and global scale.

That’s why what Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is doing on the campaign trail is so very important. No one else is articulating these spiritual challenges as clearly as he is right now.

Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich told a devoted crowd Friday night at the Bishop Center at Grays Harbor College that his presidency would “be about authenticity, integrity, and about telling people exactly what’s going on” so as to “change the way this country does business.” . . . Kucinich, who has made absolute opposition to the war in Iraq a top issue in his campaign, said he believed that this manner of thinking creates a context for war and violence. “War is the externalization of the us vs. them thinking. War must begin at that level of thought and it is the unity of dichotomous thought, word and deed which creates that physical representation of separation which we know as war.”
But we have hope, Kucinich said. “Once we take steps to help create conditions of a world as one, we then become aware of and participate in the interconnectedness and the interdependence of all beings. Then we begin to arrive at an understanding that war represents a disconnection from this common voyage we share on this planet, that war becomes a condition not just to be avoided, but a condition that is foreign to us.
“The forces of destruction and creativity exist simultaneously. The question is, which one of those forces do we wish to work through us? ... This is a pivotal moment in the history of this country, indeed it’s a pivotal moment in human history,” he concluded.
Jordan Klinem Candidate pushes for new direction for the nation, Daily World, 3-31-07

Is Kucinich electable? Is his candidacy viable? If your answer is a simple no, than your attitude itself is damning to our democratic institutions. Kucinich is running with the force of history and nature at his back, and the spirit moving in him.

John Edwards is also doing so, but in a different way.

Likewise, although they have not entered the race, and may not run, Al Gore and Wesley Clark have come to represent transitional, 21st Century politics.

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) has the most sophisticated geopolitical perspective of all the announced candidates, and he is certainly the most qualified. But so far, he is running a more traditional campaign, in terms of style and message, than either Kucinich or Edwards.

Clinton and Obama have already raised obscene amounts of money, shucking and jiving for the DLC, and they will raise tens of millions more in the months ahead.

I do not know if Edwards or Kucinich can overcome that disadvantage.

Nor do I know if they can overcome the mind-set of the mainstream media.

But I do know that a leader with spiritual vision will have to be sent to the Oval Office, or the future could be irretrievable.

Five Most Recent Words of Power Commentaries

Words of Power #33: A Quarter-Century Ago, Jimmy Carter Warned of This Grim Period, His Prophetic Call was Not Heeded

Words of Power #32: MLK Day 2007 -- A Call to Conscience in the Corridors of State and Media Power

Words of Power #31: Ghosts of Christmas Past (Katrina) and Future (Iran)

Words of Power # 30: Will the Republic Survive Beyond This Mid-Term Election?

Words of Power #29: The Dalai Lama and The Blade Runner, Spiritual Challenges of the 21st Century Security Crisis, Part III

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and Words of Power. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

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