As the United States faces its greatest social unrest in decades, we might wonder what stance we should take as students of A Course in Miracles. This message is our attempt to address that question.
We often think that the Course has nothing to do with social issues. Yet society is merely a vast web of relationships, and what is more important in the Course than our relationships? It is through our relationships that we reach the ultimate goal of God. How, then, can it not matter that the web of relationships that is American society is apparently unraveling before our eyes?
It matters—all of it. The systemic racism and inequality that has given rise to nationwide protests matters. The police brutality that African-Americans have faced for so long matters. And the violent rioting and looting that is destroying property and lives matters.
It is not un-Course-like to take a stand on these issues. The Course says that “All of the love and care, the strong protection, the thought by day and night, the deep concern” that we typically give to our own specialness really “belongs to him”—to our brother (T-24.VII.3:2). If we actually give our brother our love, care, strong protection, and deep concern, then how can we stop ourselves from reaching to lift him up when he has fallen down?
Yet even while we take a stand, we also need to embody a higher love than is found in the leading options in our culture. The Course says that the name of Jesus “stands for love that is not of this world.” We need to stand for that too. A love like that sees that the perpetrator of police violence, somewhere in his mind, carries a guilt too deep for words. It sees that those who benefit from systemic inequality, and thus seem to be on top of the world, carry a soul sickness that ultimately makes them losers, not winners. It sees, as the Course says, that “all men [are] brothers” (M-4.III.1:9). It looks at each and every person, no matter what they have done, and “sees no limit and no stain to mar [their] beautiful perfection” (M-23.5:7).
There is an example in the Course of this very idea of embracing yet also going beyond an existing humanitarian vision. In the Text, the Course speaks of “the freedoms,” the Four Freedoms famously proclaimed by Franklin D. Roosevelt. These are freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear (of war). In this passage (T-7.I.5), the Course clearly approves of “the freedoms,” saying that they “should be sided with” (T-7.I.5:4)
Yet it also goes a step further, for it openly disagrees with saying that we need “to fight for them” (T-7.I.5:1). This is exactly what Roosevelt did. The Freedoms were for him a central justification for entering World War II, since the dictators we fought against were seen as the greatest threat to the establishment of the Freedoms across the world.
How significant it is that the Course sides with a deeply humanitarian vision such as this. Think about that: The Course stands with an American president on his picture of a new world based on freedom. Yet how telling that it also calls us further, that it tells us to not take up arms to establish this new world. For by doing so, we compromise the very freedom that is our aim: “‘the freedoms’…would indeed have been freedom if men had not chosen to fight for them” (T-7.I.5:1).
Let’s not be shy, then, about standing for a humanitarian vision, for a world in which all are free to speak their minds and worship their God, in which no one lives in want and no one lives in fear. This is not a departure from the Course but an embrace of it. But at the same time, let’s go further and eschew all violence, even in our words and our thoughts toward those we consider to be the culprits. Let’s stand for a love that is not of this world.
Circle of Atonement Board & Staff
Mary Anne Buchowski
Mark de Bruijn