U.S. Representative Dennis J. Kucinich
Praxis Peace Institute Conference
Sunday, June 9, 2002
Spirit and Stardust
As one studies the images of the Eagle Nebula, brought back
by the Hubble Telescope from that place in deep space where
stars are born, one can imagine the interplay of cosmic forces
across space and time, of matter and spirit dancing to the music
of the spheres, atop an infinite sea of numbers.
Spirit merges with matter to sanctify the universe. Matter
transcends to return to spirit. The interchangeability of matter
and spirit means the starlit magic of the outermost life of
our universe becomes the soul-light magic of the innermost life
of our self. The energy of the stars becomes us. We become the
energy of the stars. Stardust and spirit unite and we begin:
One with the universe. Whole and holy. From one source, endless
creative energy, bursting forth, kinetic, elemental. We, the
earth, air, water and fire-source of nearly fifteen billion
years of cosmic spiraling.
We begin as a perfect union of matter and spirit. We receive
the blessings of the Eternal from sky and earth. In our outstretched
hands we can feel the energy of the universe. We receive the
blessings of the Eternal from water, which nourishes and sanctifies
life. We receive the blessings of the Eternal from the primal
fire, the pulsating heart of creation. We experience the wonder
of life multidimensional and transcendent. We extend our hands
upwards and we are showered with abundance. We ask and we receive.
A universe of plenty flows to us, through us. It is in us. We
become filled with endless possibilities.
We need to remember where we came from; to know that we are
one. To understand that we are of an undivided whole: race,
color, nationality, creed, gender are beams of light, refracted
through one great prism. We begin as perfect and journey through
life to become more perfect in the singularity of "I" and in
the multiplicity of "we"; a more perfect union of matter and
spirit. - - This is human striving. This is where, in Shelley's
words, " . . . hope creates from its own wreck the thing it
contemplates." This is what Browning spoke of: Our 'reach exceeding
[our] grasp'. This is a search for heaven within, a quest for
our eternal home.
In our soul's Magnificat, we become conscious of the cosmos
within us. We hear the music of peace, we hear the music of
cooperation, we hear music of love. We hear harmony, a celestial
symphony. In our soul's forgetting, we become unconscious of
our cosmic birthright, plighted with disharmony, disunity, torn
asunder from the stars in a disaster well-described by Matthew
Arnold in Dover Beach: " . . . the world, which seems to lie
before us like a land of dreams, so various, so beautiful, so
new, hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude
nor peace, nor help for pain. And we are here, as on a darkling
plain, swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, where
ignorant armies clash by night."
Today Dover Beach is upon the shores of the Potomac River in
Washington, D.C. Our leaders think the unthinkable and speak
of the unspeakable inevitability of nuclear war; of a nuclear
attack on New York City, of terrorist attacks throughout our
nation; of war against Iraq using nuclear weapons; of biological
and chemical weapon attacks on civilian populations; of catastrophic
global climate change; of war in outer space.
When death (not life) becomes inevitable, we are presented
with an opportunity for great clarity, for a great awakening,
to rescue the human spirit from the arms of Morpheus through
love, through compassion and through integrating spiritual vision
and active citizenship to restore peace to our world. The moment
that one world is about to end, a new world is about to begin.
We need to remember where we came from. Because the path home
is also the way to the future.
In the city I represent in the United States Congress, there
is a memorial to Peace, named by its sculptor, Marshall A. Fredericks
the "Fountain of Eternal Life". A figure rises from the flames,
his gaze fixed to the stars, his hands positioned sextant-like,
as if measuring the distance. Though flames of war from the
millions of hearts and the dozens of places wherein it rages,
may lick at our consciousness, our gaze must be fixed upward
to invoke universal principles of unity, of co-operation, of
compassion, to infuse our world with peace, to ask for the active
presence of peace, to expand our capacity to receive it and
to express it in our everyday life. We must do this fearlessly
and courageously and not breathe in the poison gas of terror.
As we receive, so shall we give.
As citizen-diplomats of the world, we send peace as conscious
expression where ever, whenever and to whomever it is needed:
to the Middle East, to the Israelis and the Palestinians, to
the Pakistanis and the Indians, to Americans and Al Queda, and
to the people of Iraq, and to all those locked in deadly combat.
And we fly to be with the bereft, with those on the brink, to
listen compassionately, setting aside judgment and malice to
become peacemakers, to intervene, to mediate, to bring ourselves
back from the abyss, to bind up the world's wounds.
As we aspire to universal brotherhood and sisterhood, we harken
to the cry from the heart of the world and respond affirmatively
to address through thought, word and deed conditions which give
rise to conflict: Economic exploitation, empire building, political
oppression, religious intolerance, poverty, disease, famine,
homelessness, struggles over control of water, land, minerals,
We realize that what affects anyone, anywhere affects everyone,
everywhere. As we help others to heal, we heal ourselves. Our
vision of interconnectedness resonates with new networks of
world citizens in nongovernmental organizations linking from
numberless centers of energy, expressing the emergence of a
new organic whole, seeking unity within and across national
lines. New transnational web-based email and telecommunications
systems transcend governments and carry within them the power
of qualitative transformation of social and political structures
and a new sense of creative intelligence. If governments and
their leaders, bound by hierarchy and patriarchy, wedded to
military might for legitimacy, fail to grasp the implications
of an emerging world consciousness for cooperation, for peace
and for sustainability, they may become irrelevant.
As citizen-activists the world over merge, they can become
an irresistible force to create peace and protect the planet.
From here will come a new movement to abolish nuclear weapons
and all weapons of mass destruction. From here will come the
demand for sustainable communities, for new systems of energy,
transportation and commerce. From here comes the future rushing
in on us.
How does one acquire the capacity for active citizenship? The
opportunities exist every day. In Cleveland, citizens have developed
the ability to intercede when schools are scheduled to be closed,
and have kept the schools open; to rally to keep hospitals open;
to save industries which provide jobs; to protect neighborhood
libraries from curtailment of service, to improve community
policing; to meet racial, ethnic and religious intolerance openly
Active citizenship begins with an envisioning of the desired
outcome and a conscious application of spiritual principles.
I know. I have worked with the people in my own community. I
have seen the dynamic of faith in self, faith in one's ability
to change things, faith in one's ability to prevail against
the odds through an appeal to the spirit of the world for help,
through an appeal to the spirit of community for participation,
through an appeal to the spirit of cooperation, which multiplies
energy. I have seen citizens challenge conditions without condemning
anyone, while invoking principles of non-opposition and inclusion
of those who disagree.
I have seen groups of people overcome incredible odds as they
become aware they are participating in a cause beyond self and
sense the movement of the inexorable which comes from unity.
When you feel this principle at work, when you see spiritual
principles form the basis of active citizenship, you are reminded
once again of the merging of stardust and spirit. There is creativity.
There is magic. There is alchemy.
Citizens across the United States are now uniting in a great
cause to establish a Department of Peace, seeking nothing less
than the transformation of our society, to make non-violence
an organizing principle, to make war archaic through creating
a paradigm shift in our culture for human development, for economic
and political justice and for violence control. Its work in
violence control will be to support disarmament, treaties, peaceful
coexistence and peaceful consensus building. Its focus on economic
and political justice will examine and enhance resource distribution,
human and economic rights and strengthen democratic values.
Domestically, the Department of Peace would address violence
in the home, spousal abuse, child abuse, gangs, police-community
relations conflicts and work with individuals and groups to
achieve changes in attitudes that examine the mythologies of
cherished world views, such as 'violence is inevitable' or 'war
is inevitable'. Thus it will help with the discovery of new
selves and new paths toward peaceful consensus.
The Department of Peace will also address human development
and the unique concerns of women and children. It will envision
and seek to implement plans for peace education, not simply
as a course of study, but as a template for all pursuits of
knowledge within formal educational settings. Violence is not
inevitable. War is not inevitable. Nonviolence and peace are
inevitable. We can make of this world a gift of peace which
will confirm the presence of universal spirit in our lives.
We can send into the future the gift which will protect our
children from fear, from harm, from destruction. Carved inside
the pediment which sits atop the marble columns is a sentinel
at the entrance to the United States House of Representatives.
Standing resolutely inside this "Apotheosis of Democracy" is
a woman, a shield by her left side, with her outstretched right
arm protecting a child happily sitting at her feet. The child
holds the lamp of knowledge under the protection of this patroness.
This wondrous sculpture by Paul Wayland Bartlett, is entitled
"Peace Protecting Genius". Not with nuclear arms, but with a
loving maternal arm is the knowing child Genius shielded from
harm. This is the promise of hope over fear. This is the promise
of love which overcomes all. This is the promise of faith which
overcomes doubt. This is the promise of light which overcomes
darkness. This is the promise of peace which overcomes war.