Friday, January 30, 2009

The Heart of the Matter

When I was in the office of the Director of my doctoral program, I chanced upon this highly provocative piece of writing in the Atlantic Monthly whose title alone is sure to get tongues wagging all over the place. It's called, The End of White America? Here's the deal, you need to stop what you are doing and read this thing right now. The author poses the following question for you to ponder:

"The Election of Barack Obama is just the most startling manifestation of a larger trend: the gradual erosion of “whiteness” as the touchstone of what it means to be American. If the end of white America is a cultural and demographic inevitability, what will the new mainstream look like—and how will white Americans fit into it? What will it mean to be white when whiteness is no longer the norm? And will a post-white America be less racially divided—or more so?"

I'm not sure exactly how I would answer this question. What I do think is that the issues involved are not only cultural, but deeply spiritual and moral. The social construct of race, created to justify a system of privileging some at the expense of others, has been an assault on the soul wholly at odds with the Divine Will. As such it cannot and will not survive. A social order built on the idea of race was doomed to fail and we've been witnessing its demise for some time now. Not to say race doesn't still have a little fight left in it, but it's prognosis is grim. Thank God for that!

"All these in the presence of God are equal; they are of one race and creation; God did not make these divisions. These distinctions have had their origin in man himself. Therefore, as they are against the plan and purpose of reality, they are false and imaginary. We are of one physical race, even as we are of one physical plan of material body -- each endowed with two eyes, two ears, one head, two feet." (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 299)

I put it this way in a previous post:

"Stated simply, so called racial identities represent not who we are but rather something that is done to us and which to varying degrees we do to ourselves. I would go beyond race though and say that we are likewise 'gendered', 'sexually oriented', 'ethnicitied', 'nationalitied' and on and on. All of these dimensions of our human experience are at best descriptive but are not definitive. The soul has no race, no sexual orientation, no ethnicity, no nationality, no class. We are more than the sum of these social constructs. I believe the degree to which these so called 'identities' have assumed a primacy in the way we think about ourselves and others is a measure of the power materialistic assumptions about reality have come to exert in our lives. My point is not that these aspects of the soul's journey in this world have no meaning, they may even be said to facilitate our spiritual development in important ways. Rather, it is a more subtle issue of maintaining a balanced understanding in which the soul remains at the center of our self-concept and does not become marginalized..."