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From: Bruce Schuman
Type: News
News: News 25 - A No Labels Spirituality
Date: January 14, 2014


In the USA, the transpartisan political group "No Labels" has released a new eBook on the very current and high-intensity theme of "Fixing America".

No Labels is proposing ways we can work together across the boundaries of ideology and values, to identify and act through shared vision and common ground. I bought that book this morning, and look forward to exploring how an interspiritual ethics could help inform and augment the transformative political vision introduced by No Labels.

No Labels has been working in the USA for several years in response to our crisis in governance -- a crisis that has been developing for many years (columnist EJ Dionne wrote his book "Why Americans Hate Politics" in 1992, and its thesis is still true -- complemented and expanded in his 2012 book "Our Divided Political Heart"). This theme is a dominant subject of conversation in USA politics today, and is probably well-illuminated by the book "It's Even Worse Than It Looks", by Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann, a follow-up to their earlier book "Broken Branch", discussing the failures our of broken congressional/legislative branch of government. Millions of people -- and many activist groups -- know full well that we have to do something.

For us in the Interspirituality movement, the No Labels approach is a clarifying inspiration. Let's move beyond ideological categories and the endless ways we can be divided as a people, and start identifying and building on common ground. The No Labels motto is a succinct call for the highest ideals of inclusion.

"Everything ON the table - Everybody AT the table"

What we need today is some powerful well-conceived feasible means to follow the vision implied by this motto.

We need to "bring everybody to the table" (make it possible for all voices to enter the conversation) and "put everything on the table" (develop means to discuss every issue of concern to motivated citizens).

The No Labels concept for politics is a clear model for an Interspiritual spirituality. As we seek for a truly universal spirituality -- grounded not only in all the great religions of the world, and all the spiritual traditions -- and the perennial philosophy, and work in comparative religion and the anthropology of myth (Joseph Campbell, etc.), studies in symbology, studies in depth psychology (and other psychology) -- but also in secular humanism, and any other authentic source of ethics -- we are following the No Labels injunction. Drop the Labels and categories, get to the content, bring everybody on board, let's work together, let's figure this out.

This is what we need today: an activist visionary agenda with enough punching power and capacity so as to actually convene a process at this level of sophistication and inclusion.


This is not a simple thing -- and any such project will have a lot of moving parts -- all of which need to be in-synch. This is a big thing -- vastly inclusive, and absolutely "revolutionary" -- revolutionary not only in its breadth of inclusion -- but also in its conceptual form, that enables this dropping of labels. Through Interspirituality, we are creating the philosophical/visionary capacity to move past or beyond the divisive concepts that divide the USA and the world -- not only on political values and ideologies, but on spiritual/religious/ethical values as well -- and we're proposing to combine all these elements at the same time -- as interspriritual ethics inform interspiritual politics.


I subscribe to at least six interfaith groups with a strong interest in politics -- and I think it's safe to say that all of them have a strong tendency to advocate liberal or progressive values and policies. Does this approach indicate a truly inclusive approach to their discussions? It would seem that the answer is no -- maybe for the simple reason that conservatives have a tendency to adopt "exclusivist" religious positions -- and hence tend not to show up in an interfaith context.

But in the actual context of the American national conversation -- these conservative voices are a strong political influence -- though interfaith political action groups tend to ignore them. What ends up happening is -- all activist spirit-led groups, on any side of any question, tend to cherry-pick their theology to support their politics. Pick the Bible/scripture quotes that support the position you already hold, and ignore or discount (or demonize) the thinking of those who disagree.

Or so it would seem at casual glance.

If we are to follow the high simple guidance implied by the No Labels motto -- we must make a formal systematic effort to get everybody "at the table" -- and we must create a "table" with enough channel capacity and processing power to deal with hundreds -- or thousands -- of issues -- issues that are inherently interconnected and interdependent.


Though our Interspirit Alliance Forum, and various other internet facilities we are developing (we have hundreds of graphics, 600+ messages, articles, blogs, newsletters, polling and questionnaires, videos, private email systems and mailing lists, personal contact management), we are designing an approach to this challenge -- designing and actually building a solution based on the emerging design.

The next step for us might involve contacting local groups here in our immediate vicinity -- in my case, Santa Barbara California USA. I can think of several to talk to. This might be next.

My instinct is - we have the power to do this. This is not "futuristic". This is not Utopian fantasy. There are a billion users on Facebook, and here in Santa Barbara, Cox Cable is ramping up capacity all the time.

The challenge is -- "think integral". Stop locating all these facets of your thinking -- "politics" -- "religion" -- "science" -- in entirely separate categories. In the real world, these things are more like "regions" of thinking than separate boxes -- and they bleed into one another -- and they should. Spirituality should inform and reform religion, science should reinforce spirituality and religion -- and the universal ethics that emerges should influence politics and democratic self-governance.

That's the formula. And in today's networked interspiritual environment, it's doable.


Please join us. We need your voice.

If you got the time and anything to share, step into our "Alliance Plenary Forum" where these formative conversations are going on. Right now, we're starting up an amazing conversation on the fundamental hot-button issue of individualism vs. community, involving an M.D. in South Africa who advocates something like USA libertarianism -- and indeed, Sharia Law -- and some of us California inclusivist green communitarians who follow the Pope's new call for "fraternity" and mutuality.

You can join at a click. Thanks so much.

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