Connie Baxter Marlow: Guest opinion
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
We’ve been down so long, it seems like up. Will those who gave their lives at the World Trade Center have given them in vain? A friend has a sticker on her fridge that says, “Laughter is the best medicine, unless you are really sick. Then call 911.”
Recently, leading representatives of the five major world religions convened in Aspen at the invitation of Edward W. Bastian and the Aspen Chapel. One hundred and fifty or so people seeing information, answers and enlightenment walked the “Contemplative Path” for the weekend with a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Christian, a Hindu and a Jewish “exemplar” during the “Spiritual Paths” seminar.
The common threads that bound the weekend were the “spiritual” nature of humanity and the universe. They were underlying “truths” to all religions that came to Aspen: “We are all unique and necessary aspects of divine creation, and the essential essence which drives all things is unconditional love.”
Have Americans “gone within” since 9/11? Have we discovered who we are as a nation, as a people? America is currently the most religiously diverse nation in the world. We honor the divine in mosques, churches, synagogues, temples – we are a multicultural, multi-religious nation – but do we know our own land? Do we honor the founding vision of our country – our land’s spiritual heritage and its many manifestations – the vision of the Mayflower pilgrim, the founding fathers, the American Indian, the transcendentalist, the Mormon, the Quaker, our freedom documents?
Who are we? What are we? Do we bring our gifts to the party? Do we even know what our gifts are? In the eyes of every mother and father in the world America stands for abundance and freedom for their children – are we bringing true freedom and wealth to the world? To our own children?
There is obviously something missing in the consciousness of the world. We are plagued by war, violence, poverty and unconscionable abuse. Can we each “go within” and perhaps discover the missing pieces that might allow humanity to lay down the weapons of war and walk in beauty and in alignment with the love that lies deep within our hearts and drives all that is?
Is America carrying something that is yet to be “discovered” which will show the way to a solution to the current dilemmas that face humanity?
I will end with a quote from a little book written in 1624 by the ancestor of Edward Winslow Bastian – Edward Winslow, one of the 52 survivors of the Mayflower Pilgrims (half of the 102 mothers, fathers and children died the first winter), a drafter and signer of our first freedom/democracy document the Mayflower Compact, and a governor of the Plymouth Colony, that unique five-year experiment in democracy that laid the foundation for America today:
“After having brought the dying (Wampanoag Indian chief) Massassoit a life-saving remedy, Winslow writes of being at the home of another Wampanoag leader: ‘After that, being at his … house, he … demanded further, how we durst, being but two, come so far into Indian country. I answered, where was true love, there was no fear; and my heart was so upright towards them, that for mine own part I was fearless to come amongst them.'”
The world is waiting for America and Americans to walk our talk – how can we if we don’t know ourselves? Who are we as a nation? Who are we as a people? We envision a government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” but how can “we the people” of American lead a world in peace and freedom if we only look to messengers from other lands for the answers, and ignore our own?
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