Government, Politics and Spirituality

Monday, August 6, 2012
Origins of Nationhood and Government

All life emanates from the single source (God, Spirit...). On taking physical form we become distant from that unity and adopt a distinct individuality. The purpose of physical incarnation is to experience that disconnection from source and those things that can only be experienced through interaction with other incarnate entities. As such the knowledge of our origin is hidden.

In the beginning, incarnate entities existed independently. However, the mechanics of evolution demonstrated the benefits of co-operation. Working together each member achieves more than it could in isolation. Thus groups, tribes, nations, societies... were formed. To be effective each group needs rules, and a means of enforcing those rules (laws). Hence the need for leadership (government). At essence laws encourage selflessness by curtailing selfish behavior.

Governments have enabled enormous human progress on the material plane by providing the infrastructures that promote enterprise and creativity, eg who would bother to make an effort if his neighbor could simply come along and snatch the fruits of his labor? Government-provided health, education and welfare services underline the sanctity of life, a very Spiritual ideal. Without the benefits of formal government humanity probably couldn't have reached its current heights.

But there is a negative side to government. Most notably the wars perpetrated in "national" interest. Such behavior indicates Spiritual immaturity. Unfortunately the technological progress that created a whole a host of weapons of mass destruction outstrips our Spiritual growth, hence the tragic devastation caused by warfare. More subtly, all governments curtail individual liberty and freedom of expression to some degree.

Many forms of government have existed and continue to exist, ranging from the jungle-like dictatorship where the strongest holds dominion over all else, through to democracy in which everyone has a say on who leads, can lobby the leadership, and even run for the job themselves. Though democracy appears, and probably is, the most agreeable form of government, consider that most democratic governments enjoy (sometimes substantially) less than 50% of the possible votes, and are not the choice of the majority. Furthermore, even their supporters probably don't support every single policy and detail.

Politics and Spirituality

Politics is the process of proposing governmental policies and arguing the merits of those policies over others. That wild differences of political opinion have always existed and continue to do so proves only that there is no single best way. Indeed there is not even common agreement as to the role of government, never mind how it should be achieved.

Elections are a barometer of the current state of society's Spiritual progress. If one happens to live in a democracy should one participate, and if so, how? While on earth our Spiritual duty is to engage with earthly affairs (else we wouldn't be here). As election time approaches we ought to familiarize ourselves with the available options. You might find one choice better for you personally, while another favors society as a whole. If so, it becomes a question of degree, eg can you sacrifice a little extra tax in return for vastly improved public health services? Remember, abstention is also a valid option, though ideally it should come from a considered decision rather than apathy. In the final reckoning, be guided by your inner instinct.

By J Finnis