I’ll start with a full disclosure here. To begin with, I do not consider myself a “follower” of Marianne’s spiritual teachings. I am not even a yoga practitioner in the usual sense of the word, beyond an occasional class every decade or so — which only serves to confirm once again that yes, my body is indeed embarrassingly impaired when it comes to certain forms of stretching.
However, I do have a strong affinity with the “spiritual but not religious” demographic. And I’m pretty sure that my ginormous personal library includes a book or two of hers, especially given my long-standing interest in the topics of spirituality, politics, ecology, feminism, human development, and personal and social transformation.
For some of you, that second paragraph may be sufficient to explain “why Marianne”. Yet for those who are still curious, here are the three top reasons why I fully support her candidacy for President of the United States.
1) The Climate Crisis, Reparations, and a fully progressive agenda
The following quote has been attributed to James Gustave (“Gus”) Speth, environmental lawyer and co-founder of the National Resources Defence Council:
When it comes to addressing environmental issues, my hunch is that cultural and spiritual transformation is precisely one of Marianne Williamson’s areas of strength. As a bit of evidence along these lines, I am deeply impressed by the fact that over the last twenty years, she has repeatedly engaged audiences of white people on the subject of reparations, in a way that both creates understanding and evokes applause. Some might consider this a minor miracle in and of itself — and to me, it counts as highly relevant experience for someone who is running for President.
Still, as Marianne continually reminds us, it’s not just up to her — it’s up to all of us. Will she be able to inspire sufficient numbers of people? Or, will the press caricatures make too many people afraid to take a closer look, thinking that they too, might end up being ridiculed?
With regard to specific plans, Marianne has often stated that she would appoint a world-class environmental scientist to be head of the EPA. Sounds good to me, especially if that person has world-class leadership and managerial experience. However, in her interview with the young founders of The Climate Mobilization she goes into much greater depth on her perspectives on the climate crisis.
With regard to reparations, one of my favorites is Marianne’s Breakfast Club interview. From my perspective, this is one of her signature issues; however, she is not a one-issue-candidate. In an article for New York magazine, Ed Kilgore called her a “Lefty with Soul”, and wrote that he sees Marianne as “the most rigorously progressive” of all the candidates. Based on everything of hers that I have seen, read, or heard, I would enthusiastically agree.
2) Systemic Perspectives, and bringing together Mind and Heart
While mainstream culture would have us believe that technology is going to solve everything, and that the narrowly rational mind is the only thing we need to heed, science itself tells us otherwise.
For one thing, social psychology has been studying the limits of rational thinking in humans. As social psychologist Jonathan Haidt writes in The Righteous Mind, “If you think that moral reasoning is something we do to figure out the truth, you’ll be constantly frustrated by how foolish, biased, and illogical people become when they disagree with you.” In fact, he recommends that “anyone who values truth should stop worshipping reason.”
Does this mean we should throw reason out the window? NO, clearly not! It just means that we need to recognize the truth that humans are both thinking and feeling beings — and that feeling plays a much greater role in our thinking, than previously recognized. In other words, we all have biases — especially those of us who pretend we don’t.
Many of us these days feel the call to bring together both mind and heart, science AND spirit. We are in the midst of an enormous transition to a new way of looking at the world, one beyond the myth of technical rationality as the sole organizing principle for our society. As one small example, a friend just recommended the book “Braiding Sweetgrass” as an in-depth exploration of Indigenous Science. Yet even in the midst of this larger cultural shift (or maybe, in reaction to it?) anything beyond the dominant technocratic mindset is too often mocked by the cultural gatekeepers.
In 1962, in his classic “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”, Thomas Kuhn wrote about the messy process through which which knowledge evolves as new paradigms arise; again, more evidence should we need it, that even the scientific enterprise does not proceed in a strictly rational manner. That’s a macro-level perspective…. on a more micro level, a few days ago Stephen Dinan, former neuroscience researcher and co-founder of the Global Shift Network, published “Turning Mocking into Momentum”, an article here on Medium describing how this larger process of cultural transformation is playing out right now, in the media’s response to Marianne’s campaign.
Yet despite the threat of ridicule, I stand with all of those brave enough to “Occupy the New Paradigm” — and I count Marianne Williamson as a shining example in this regard. The phrase itself was coined by Dr. Karen O’Brien and was part of a keynote she gave at the Leverage Points 2019 conference on sustainability and transformation. (For an account on Medium of that conference, see Charlotte Weil’s awesome article.)
When it comes to shifting into new paradigms, the realms of politics and journalism may be bringing up the rear in our culture. Regardless of what label we choose, there has been a growing acceptance of holistic health, of integrative medicine or complementary medicine throughout this country and elsewhere. Many people agree that both Western medicine and alternative forms of healing have their place. But how many of us have a sense of what holistic or integrative or complementary politics might look like? (Hint: Hanauer and Liu’s Gardens of Democracy is a great place to start exploring this question.)
With regard to holistic journalism, I saw Rachel Maddow offering us a lovely glimpse of appreciative, non-zero-sum journalism, in her two-episode set where she highlighted the contributions of each candidate to the first set of debates. And here is a serious, in-depth article by Amanda Ripley exploring how journalism can move beyond a narrow-minded, conflict-driven approach.
Along these lines, I am deeply inspired by Marianne’s principled refusal to speak badly about the other candidates, as well as her continuing reframing of the questions that are put to her, in order to go deeper, to look more systemically at issues. Yet something that often comes up when taking with others, is the question of “is she electable?” To me, that translates into a more fundamental question, one which ends up being less about her, and more about us: “how will the American people respond to Marianne’s campaign?”
The answer to that question depends on each one of us… we are each leverage points. We are each already making a difference, one way or another, whether we choose to or not. And, we can consciously choose what kind of difference we want to make, as well as how much energy we want to invest.
3) Faith in the basic goodness and decency of the American people.
Marianne has a tremendous faith in the “better angels” of our human nature, and she is gifted at being able to evoke the best in people.
As I mentioned earlier, she is appreciative and respectful of the other candidates on the field, often pointing out that she is running “with” them rather than against them. She encourages people to research all of the candidates, to become informed citizens, to vote according to their conscience.
Marianne has frequently re-iterated that the change she is prepared to lead, is one that no single person can accomplish on their own. Yes, I trust that as President, she will appoint a brilliant Cabinet. But to arrive at the position in the first place, she is calling for the people of this country to awaken and reaffirm our democracy.
Marianne continually reminds us of our heritage as change-makers; the effort, persistence, and commitment that it took to create 8-hour days and 5-day weeks for workers; the imagination and courage that it took for women to win the right to vote; the massive strategizing that it took to secure Civil Rights for all.
At the same time, she’s not afraid to admit that we have been backsliding on all of these basic human rights; and she does not shrink from acknowledging just how bad things are at this point — because she believes that as grown-ups, we can handle the truth.
Marianne is an activist at heart, and that is why I love her. And as Rebecca Solnit (another one of my favorite activists) reminds us, we can’t be effective activists unless we have faith in the basic goodness and decency of people.
Still, I don’t know what the likelihood is, of the large-scale non-violent revolution that Marianne is calling for — the fierce yet peaceful “pattern disruption” we need to create, if we want to take back our country from corporate domination of our political system and begin to steer a course toward a sustainable and regenerative future.
Will enough of us choose to rise to the challenge?
Many of us are doing so already, in various different ways: the Sunrise movement, Extinction Rebellion, the Parkland movement, the growing opposition to the state-sponsored crimes against children taking place at the border… as well as, all those who are growing organic food, developing alternative energy systems, studying and practicing peacemaking skills…
Will we be able to come together, to create a “patchwork majority” for this next election?
I don’t know. What I do know, is that as human beings, we have the opportunity to make meaningful choices. And it’s up to each one of us, to choose the path we walk on, and to take responsibility for those choices.
I fully support Marianne Williamson’s candidacy, because I know in my bones that we need a nonviolent (r)evolution — not just for her to become President, but even more so, for us to effectively address the root causes of the major crises that humanity is facing.
And last but not least, because I have been meeting some great people along the way… which is one of the best parts of being an activist: connecting deeply and authentically with other human beings, around issues that matter.
Come join us on the dance floor!
P.S. for those who are way too busy to watch long video or audio interviews: this is the first video of hers I ever saw. It is only three minutes long, and it left me hungry to see more.