Is there such a thing as “sacred political action”? If so, what would that mean?

For many people, these are probably two areas of our lives that do not go together or should not go together. The world “sacred” implies religious or spiritual faith and most atheists and agnostics would say that such beliefs do not belong in the political arena. Others who hold devout religious beliefs feel that such faith drives all aspects of their lives and there is no way this part of who they are can be separated from their political action.

I fall into that “spiritual but not religious” camp. I make a clear distinction between being “spiritual” and being “religious” (best described in this article from a few years ago). As such, my views on religious dogma to which one subscribes are that they should be checked at the political door. I strongly disagree with those who use their religious teachings to try and impose political decisions on everyone else. However, I understand that once one has accepted a package of beliefs to guide their lives, it is difficult not to become politically engaged using your faith.

But I want to be crystal clear here — when I talk about “sacred political action”, I don’t mean simply “religious political action”. What I am talking about is taking political action based on a sense of what one considers to be “sacred”.

What does that mean?

Well, let’s define our term “sacred”. Yes, it can have different meanings…but I like this description from Wikipedia: “Sacred means revered due to sanctity, is in general the state of being holy (perceived by religious individuals as associated with divinity) or sacred (considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion; or inspiring awe or reverence among believers).” Merriam-Webster defines “sanctity” as “the quality or state of being holy, very important, or valuable.”

So whether you are religious, agnostic, atheist or spiritual, I would ask this:

What is it that you consider as worthy of respect? What is it that inspires awe and reverence in you? What do you consider to be holy, very important or valuable?

Stop and think about it…..what comes to mind for you? And, then consider if your political actions are in alignment with supporting what you consider sacred?

Here is what I consider sacred:

Our planet and everything on it (which pretty much covers all but let’s be more specific)….so then I consider sacred…..Life in general, but especially all humans everywhere and their ability to live a full and happy life.

So, planet Earth is sacred. Our environment is sacred. Our plants and animals are sacred. You are sacred. I am sacred. Everyone is sacred (even if I don’t agree with them or think they are a jerk or “evil”, by the way).

So if these things are what I consider as sacred, what political actions does that drive me towards? Here are a few:

  • Action to address global warming and to protect our environment
  • Action to address income inequality
  • Action to consider human needs (economic, educational, liberty) no matter where they live
  • Action to bring peace and non-violence to the planet

You may have noted that there are a few things that I don’t necessarily think are sacred. These non-sacred items include: religious icons, religious beliefs, political beliefs and systems, corporations, money, economic theories and systems, political and economic borders. However, you might have a few of these on your “sacred list” and that’s ok.

It’s simply helpful to know that there are some things that we treat with such reverence that it drives our choices and actions in the political arena.

Somewhere inside you, you hold certain things to be so important that you consider them “sacred” and “holy” and such beliefs drive you to your political actions. You simply may never have considered that your cherished love of money, love of a political or economic theory, love of religion, or whatever was what you considered “sacred”.

Hence it might be useful to reverse the question and examine your political actions and then ask what do they say about what you consider as sacred?

And finally….is what you treat as “sacred” based on your political actions really what you believe to be “sacred”? If not, why not?

Something to think about…..

Mark Gilbert

ps. For more on this topic, you might like this recent post on Seeing the World as Sacred.


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