How Do You See It?
Politics vs Spirituality

We feel that our political view is our spirituality demonstrated. To try to pretend that the brand of politics we prefer has nothing to do with our highest spiritual beliefs is a little like saying that the clothes we buy have nothing to do with our ideas about style, or that the food we eat has nothing to do with our ideas about health, or that the person we marry has nothing to do with our ideas about love ... or that none of these things have anything to do with our beliefs about LIFE.

We feel that politics are important in a spiritual context precisely because they help to create that context, and are, in turn, created by it. In addition, it strikes us that we don't have to agree on our politics in order for a discussion of the world today to be both valid and valuable.

Watchfulness & Awareness

It is in the context of the above belief on our part that we include this article. You have read many articles in our past issues that deal with "watchfulness" as it relates to our thoughts. It is the tool to becoming aware ... to awaken and become conscious of our thoughts and what they produce as a part of the process of creation ... to insure that what is being created is for our greatest good and the greatest good of all.

Well, we feel that this "watchfulness" equally applies to what is going on in our world of politics because to not be awake (conscious) of the events that take place, such events can equally create that which is not for our greatest good or the greatest good of all.

It is for this reason that I quote a speech made in November 2003 by former Vice President Al Gore in an address for the moveon.org about things that are being created within our government that are neither consistent with our spirituality nor with that which is for the greatest good of all. We bring this to your attention because we believe that "watchfulness" and "awareness" is humanity's hallmark to mastery. If you find it not something with which you agree, I'm sure that you will find it interesting and thought-provoking at the very least.

It is within this framework that we ask you to view within your own spirituality beliefs and if you have been "watchful" enough to be aware of what's taking place today in the political arena.

Quoting the former Vice President

“A lot of other changes have taken place (since Sept. 11, 2001) that a lot of people don't know about and that come as unwelcome surprises. For example, for the first time in our history, American citizens have been seized by the executive branch of government and put in prison without being charged with a crime, without having the right to a trial, without being able to see a lawyer, and without even being able to contact their families.

President Bush is claiming the unilateral right to do that to any American citizen he believes is an "enemy combatant." Those are the magic words. If the President alone decides that those two words accurately describe someone, then that person can be immediately locked up and held incommunicado for as long as the President wants, with no court having the right to determine whether the facts actually justify his imprisonment.

Now if the President makes a mistake, or is given faulty information by somebody working for him, and locks up the wrong person, then it's almost impossible for that person to prove his innocence - because he can't talk to a lawyer or his family or anyone else and he doesn't even have the right to know what specific crime he is accused of committing. So a constitutional right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we used to think of in an old-fashioned way as "inalienable" can now be instantly stripped from any American by the President with no meaningful review by any other branch of government.

How do we feel about that? Is that OK?

Here's another recent change in our civil liberties: Now, if it wants to, the federal government has the right to monitor every website you go to on the internet, keep a list of everyone you send email to or receive email from and everyone who you call on the telephone or who calls you --- and they don't even have to show probable cause that you've done anything wrong. Nor do they ever have to report to any court on what they're doing with the information. Moreover, there are precious few safeguards to keep them from reading the content of all your email.

Everybody fine with that?

If so, what about this next change?

For America's first 212 years, it used to be that if the police wanted to search your house, they had to be able to convince an independent judge to give them a search warrant and then (with rare exceptions) they had to go bang on your door and yell, "Open up!" Then, if you didn't quickly open up, they could knock the door down. Also, if they seized anything, they had to leave a list explaining what they had taken. That way, if it was all a terrible mistake (as it sometimes is) you could go and get your stuff back.

But that's all changed now. Starting two years ago, federal agents were given broad new statutory authority by the Patriot Act to "sneak and peak" in non-terrorism cases. They can secretly enter your home with no warning - whether you are there or not - and they can wait for months before telling you they were there. And it doesn't have to have any relationship to terrorism whatsoever. It applies to any garden-variety crime. And the new law makes it very easy to get around the need for a traditional warrant - simply by saying that searching your house might have some connection (even a remote one) to the investigation of some agent of a foreign power. Then they can go to another court, a secret court, that more or less has to give them a warrant whenever they ask.

Three weeks ago, in a speech at FBI Headquarters, President Bush went even further and formally proposed that the Attorney General be allowed to authorize subpoenas by administrative order, without the need for a warrant from any court.

What about the right to consult a lawyer if you're arrested? Is that important?

Attorney General Ashcroft has issued regulations authorizing the secret monitoring of attorney-client conversations on his say-so alone; bypassing procedures for obtaining prior judicial review for such monitoring in the rare instances when it was permitted in the past. Now, whoever is in custody has to assume that the government is always listening to consultations between them and their lawyers. Does it matter if the government listens in on everything you say to your lawyer? Is that Ok?

Or, to take another change - and thanks to the librarians, more people know about this one - the FBI now has the right to go into any library and ask for the records of everybody who has used the library and get a list of who is reading what. Similarly, the FBI can demand all the records of banks, colleges, hotels, hospitals, credit-card companies, and many more kinds of companies.

And these changes are only the beginning. Just last week, Attorney General Ashcroft issued brand new guidelines permitting FBI agents to run credit checks and background checks and gather other information about anyone who is "of investigatory interest," --- meaning anyone the agent thinks is suspicious --- without any evidence of criminal behavior.

So, is that fine with everyone?

Listen to the way Israel's highest court dealt with a similar question when, in 1999, it was asked to balance due process rights against dire threats to the security of its people:

‘This is the destiny of democracy, as not all means are acceptable to it, and not all practices employed by its enemies are open before it. Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand. Preserving the Rule of Law and recognition of an individual's liberty constitutes an important component in its understanding of security. At the end of the day they (add to) its strength.’

I want to challenge the Bush Administration's implicit assumption that we have to give up many of our traditional freedoms in order to be safe from terrorists.

Because it is simply not true.”

End of quote from the former Vice President

So, what do you feel about at this? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you not want to hear about it, at least not here in this ezine, because it has nothing to do with spirituality? Do you want to hear about it, especially here in this ezine, because it has everything to do with spirituality?

Well, we'll ask you to give us your thoughts in the following poll: