Citizenship from an ACIM perspective

[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]

Amy Speach suggested the following for a blog topic:

“I’m interested in hearing how others reconcile being a Course student with the responsibilities of being a citizen: for example, is it important to you to stay on top of the news and do you vote? And have your beliefs in this regard changed at all since you began studying the Course? Do you think this a personal decision that has no right or wrong answer in terms of what the Course teaches? I’d love to hear from any of our CCC bloggers who would like to respond.”

I’ll be happy to address your question. My short answer: I do follow the news, I do vote, and I have even participated in political campaigns and rallies. I don’t find this inherently incompatible with being a Course student at all.

I’ve actually become more politically active since I started studying the Course. The Course doesn’t require us to do this, but it doesn’t forbid us either — as you say, it’s a personal decision. The crucial thing from the Course’s standpoint is that we bring the Course’s perspective to those activities. This means that, to the best of our ability, we need to ensure that our political activities are truly motivated by love and guided by the Holy Spirit. We accomplish this by walking the Course’s path day to day and applying to it our politics, just as we are meant to apply it to everything in our lives.

I’ve always been puzzled that people think political activity is something that needs to be “reconciled” with being a Course student (though I’m certainly not criticizing your question). The usual arguments against politics — there’s ego involved, there’s competition involved, there’s changing externals involved, etc. — are arguments that could be used against any life activity. Personally, I don’t see being up on current events and being an active citizen as substantially any different from anything else we do.

If anything, I find the essential purpose of politics to be something that is very much in harmony with the Course. Yes, politics is tainted by ego like everything else in this world, and no doubt the ego’s purpose for it is to foster separation. But its essential purpose, at least as the Holy Spirit would use it, is to find a way for people to live harmoniously in community, to get along with one another. And that is the very reason the Course came originally to Helen and Bill: to provide a “better way” for them to get along with their work colleagues, a way to create harmony in a situation that was embroiled in egoic office politics. So, it’s hard for me to imagine the Course’s author being against political activity.

But of course, it is essential that our political activity is done in that “better way” spirit. I once wrote a Q & A on political involvement from a Course perspective, and at the end of it I gave some practical suggestions for how to do so. (I’ve modified those a bit here.):

  1. Continually work on purifying your motivations by letting your mind be healed as much as possible through ongoing Course practice. Make your work with the Course your number one priority.
  2. Observe your mind as you contemplate political action; be on the lookout for egoic motivations and, as best as you can (your motivations needn’t be absolutely perfect before you act), allow the Holy Spirit to replace those motivations with His. This is the Course’s practice of mental vigilance.
  3. Bring the specific political issue you are working with into your Course practice; apply your Course practice specifically to that issue. The Course urges us to practice “with great specificity” (W-In.6:1).
  4. Bring the people involved in your political activity into your Course practice as well. For instance, you may well need to do forgiveness work on the people with opposing views on your issue.
  5. Listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance on what specific actions to take, to the best of your ability.

Hope this helps.