Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What does it mean to be spiritual but not religious?

To be spiritual is to have faith in the sacredness of life and being itself, to think of our existence as neither something is totally devoid of meaning, nor imbued with one particular meaning.  It is the certainty that we create our lives, but create them from within the particular milieu in which life has situated us - time, place, relationships, language.

To be spiritual is to believe in spirit - the non-corporeal, intangible, elusive nature of the world that shapes us as we shape it.  It is a belief, a faith, a trust, a hope, an interpretation.  It does not claim to know the future, nor can it always look with certainty upon the past.  It is presence, sensation, feeling, movement within that bubbles up into incandescent words that pop just before they're grabbed.

To be spiritual is not to lack conviction.  It is to affirm, within the deepest recesses of the self, the value of the self and others.  It is to hold in reverence the knots of life into whom we bump, from whom we buy, and close to whom we sleep.  It is to value the life that travels beyond chromosomal categorization, that is worthwhile simply to look at and enjoy, that moves us to climb it, to walk it, to row it, to celebrate it and protect it.

To be spiritual is to be content to breathe, to take in the world as it is in this moment, on this day, in this place.  It is to open a hand to others and world the world not only so that we might give, but so that we might also receive; what does life have for us this day?  To be spiritual is, ultimately, to live in this question.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Syria: What to Do?

Meetings for our potential intervention in the Syrian crisis begin today, and apparently, two of Obama's strongest foes on the war have offered their tentative, conditional support (see here).  The internet has been dropping all sorts of memes at Obama's feet in favor of sitting Syria out; it seems the American public is simply tired of war, and for good reason.  Iraq and Afghanistan dragged on for a long, long time.

A number of potential reasons for entering the war have been offered by the administration - the message it sends to North Korea, Iran, and other potential users of chemical weapons is perhaps the strongest of the pro-intervention arguments, at least according to the interview I listened to on NPR this morning with Rep. Adam Smith from Washington state.  Most of us don't like the idea of using chemical weapons, and if al-Assad used them, which it seems that he did, this could provide a particularly compelling reason to strike Syria.

Conspicuous in its absence, however, is the fact that the Syrian rebels have actively asked the US for its help.  Let me be clear - I am not pointing this out because I think it's a trump card to enter the war.  It is, however, an important consideration that seems to be flying relatively under the radar.  The US entered Iraq and Afghanistan out of its desire for revenge, and to deflect a conversation about the real reasons bin Laden masterminded such a horrible scheme - our historic involvement in the middle east, particularly our support of Israel.  Clothed in the garments of goodness against shadowy forces of evil, we readily took on the mantle of the global police.

It is a strange thing that after so many years of war, we are now seemingly being invited into another.  If we don't assist the Syrian rebels, do we simply solidify in the world's eyes that we are really only interested in the rhetoric of being a force for liberty and democracy (maybe not peace) in the world, in using that as a tool to simply fight the battles that make us feel good (at least at their outset)?  If we do enter the fight, do we then become a nation who seems interested in simply being in a state of perpetual war with the world around it? Americans are tired, but our decisions still both reflect our identity as a nation as well as shape it.  Who will we become this week?