Marianne Williamson: The U.S. Is 100% Responsible for the World’s Problems!

After the first Democratic Presidential Debate, Marianne Williamson generated a lot of interest.

On the one hand, her name ended up being the most searched on the internet. With language and demeanor vastly different from the other candidates, people wanted to know who she might be.

On the other hand, Williamson generated a good deal of ridicule. Seth Meyers joked that she clearly won’t be around this fall. Ha ha; who would be so foolish as to think otherwise! Kate McKinnon (pictured above) offered a woo-woo Williamson impression that had Marianne eliminating global problems by burning all the sage on the planet. TYT’s Brooke Thomas dismissed Marianne as a “vanity candidate” intent merely on selling her books.

All of that was itself laughable for those who know Marianne Williamson. We know she’s not a woo-woo lightweight; she doesn’t need to sell more books; and if people understand just who she is and grasp her fundamental message, she’ll definitely be around this fall.

And that’s because her absolutely radical approach to politics supplies the simple key we’ve all been looking for to solve the endless problems on our national list, be it climate change, the threat of nuclear war, terrorism, or immigration.

Let me repeat: her approach offers a key far more radical and easily understood than anything Bernie or Elizabeth even imagines or dares to say.

The key I’m referencing is basic to the teaching of A Course in Miracles (ACIM), which has been the guidebook for Marianne’s life and teaching for more than 40 years. Williamson herself describes the course as basic Christian mysticism. It’s not a religion; it’s not for everyone; it doesn’t even demand belief in God. However, it does respond to the universal human quest for ethical principle and spiritual meaning, whether the quest is understood as generated by God, Yahweh, Allah, Krishna, the Buddha, Ultimate Reality, the Ground of Being, Life Itself, or Nature with a capital “N.”

But what about that key I mentioned?

It’s simply this: take 100% responsibility for your problems and deal with them accordingly.

That’s it. And, though difficult to actually implement, that assumption of complete responsibility will go a long way towards eliminating not only personal and inter-personal problems, but all our political conundrums as well.

How radical is that?

It’s the opposite, of course, from the approach of Mr. Trump – and even of Marianne’s colleagues on the debate stage. In contrast to Marianne, every one of them adopts the standard cliched and stereotyped approach so familiar to all of us in our personal lives: I’m not the problem; she is; he is; they are.

In political terms it’s refugees, immigrants, people of color, welfare cheats, unprovoked “terrorists,” the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, Somalis, Libyans, Syrians, MS-13 gang members, and drug dealers. The list goes on and on and on. All of those included must be punished, subjected to sanctions, bombed, droned, or killed.

But we never find fault in ourselves. Never!

Pertinently and most recently, such unwillingness to accept responsibility was expressed by President Trump in his racist harangue against Congressional Representatives Ilhan Omar, Rashida Talib, Ayanna Presley, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC).  According to Mr. Trump all four representatives outrageously blame the United States the problems of terrorism, Palestinian oppression, public misinformation, and immigration problems. Here’s what Trump and his audience ridiculed as patently ludicrous:

  • Ilhan Omar “attacked our country” saying that terrorism is a reaction to our involvement in other people’s affairs. She even blamed the United States for the crisis in Venezuela!
  • Rashida Talib said that members of congress who support Israel have forgotten what country they represent.
  • Ayana Presley alleged that “ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country.”
  • AOC compared U.S. border agents to Nazis running concentration camps and claimed that inmates in the camps were forced to drink water from toilets.

To such accusations, Trump’s followers bellowed loud dissent. How could anyone possible accuse Americans of ignorance, of terrorism, of supporting Global South coups, or of maintaining concentration camps or at our border, or of facilitating them in Gaza? After all, (in Mr. Trump’s words) we are the “greatest force for peace and justice in the world.”

But, Williamson and ACIM implicitly ask, what if every one of those accusations is true? What if terrorism is largely blowback? What if the United States has indeed routinely undermined governments in the former colonies, including Venezuela? What if members of Congress generally appear more loyal to Israel than to their constituents? What if many Americans are indeed ignorant, and if those cages on our border – those baby prisons and child detention facilities – are actually concentration camps?

If we seriously entertained those possibilities, dealing with the problems in question would involve change – not principally on the part of our designated enemies – but on our own part. (Imagine that!) It would compel us to terminate uninvited involvement in the affairs of other nations. It would have us cease and desist, for instance, from regime change strategies, from support of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, and from abusing children by separating infants from their mothers.

In theological terms as understood in ACIM, accepting 100% responsibility for the world’s problems would involve:

  • Prioritizing the world as God created it, belonging to everyone and perfect before humans appeared – without borders, which (though useful for commerce and travel) are not part of the Love’s unchallengeable order
  • Admitting that we are not an exceptional nation – or as ACIM puts it: No one is special, while everyone is special
  • Forgiving those we habitually blame – meaning treating them exactly as we would like to be treated
  • Realizing that no one is attacking us without provocation
  • Yet being willing to treat genuine criminality (e.g. as represented by those cages on the border or by the 9/11 attacks) with humanely retributive imprisonment (and/or impeachment)

Put more practically (according to the points distinguishing Williamson’s platform from that of others who also advocate the Green New Deal, etc.), admitting our responsibility for the world’s problems entails:

  • Paying reparations especially to African Americans, but also to indigenous tribes and to the countries our unprovoked regime-change wars have destroyed.
  • Creating a cabinet-level Department of Children and Youth intent on making our schools “palaces of learning” and our libraries “temples of literature and art”
  • Funding a Department of Peace at the same level as the so-called Defense Department

Imagine a world in which we took 100% responsibility for climate change, nuclear disarmament, immigration, and all the other problems represented by those we habitually blame. Imagine a president using her bully pulpit to set a constructive national tone (vs. the destructive tone set by Mr. Trump) and helping us all to accept 100% responsibility not only for the world’s problems but for our personal conflicts as well. What would happen to our marriages, to our families, to our local communities?

Answers to those musings constitute the reasons why Marianne Williamson, far from deserving ridicule, is the very candidate our country needs.  

P.S. Watch how Marianne knocked it out of the park on Colbert last Monday night:

Marianne Williamson and War (Memorial Day Sunday Homily)

Readings for 6th Sunday of Easter: ACTS 15: 1-2, 22-29; PS 67: 2-3, 5-6, 8; REV 21: 10-14, 22-23; JN 14: 23-29

It’s Memorial weekend already – the unofficial beginning of summer, 2019. As usual, it’s a day when our country celebrates war and its heroes. That’s simply the American way of commemorating every patriotic occasion.

Appropriately however, this weekend’s liturgy of the word introduces a note of dissent. It centralizes peace as the content of Jesus last will and testament. In so doing, it implicitly contrasts Jesus’ concept of peace with that of Rome or any empire for that matter. The Roman Tacitus described his country’s understanding with the famous aphorism: “They create a desert and call it peace.” For me, Tacitus’ description applies just as well to the United States.

With that in mind, it also seems appropriate to connect Memorial Day, the peace Jesus advocated and the presidential candidacy of Marianne Williamson. I say “appropriate” this time because Williamson is the only candidate in the crowded Democratic field who thematically centralizes the need for change of specifically spiritual consciousness about all things political – including matters of war and peace. Her attitude on those issues corresponds closely with that of Jesus as expressed in today’s Gospel reading.

Marianne Williamson and Peace

To begin with, Williamson is a harsh critic of the Pentagon and the policy of perpetual war into which our country has increasingly fallen since the Second Inter-Capitalist War (1939-’45) and especially since 9/11/01. 

In fewer than 100 years, she points out, the real driving force behind United States military posture has become the interests of Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing and other defense contractors. That has Americans, for instance, buying one hundred B-21 stealth bombers each costing $550 million and each capable of carrying thermonuclear weapons. That’s $55 billion in total.

Such investment, Williamson says, is completely over-the-top. Why 100 planes of that type? At the very least, it all seems completely out-of-proportion to the danger posed by our perceived terrorist enemy. Terrorists belong to no particular state. Very often they are home-grown. In any case, their hit-and-run attacks cannot be effectively answered with wholesale bombing, much less with nuclear weapons. Williamson writes:

“America today is like the British Red Coats during the Revolutionary War – standing abreast in a straight line waiting for someone to yell ‘Fire!’ while American colonists were hiding behind trees like the early guerrilla fighters that they were. Our entire notion of national security is like something out of another century.”  

Instead of such waste and without neglecting legitimate defense concerns, Williamson calls for effective recognition of the soul force of peace building. She wants established a US Department of Peace that would make peace-creation a central goal of national policy, both foreign and domestic.  It would use resources like those now wasted on those B-21s to support diplomatic efforts with those currently villainized in order to justify purchase of overpriced weapons systems.

Peace building would reconstruct the cities that US policy has destroyed. It would support educational opportunities for children, expand economic prospects for women, and in general alleviate human suffering across the planet. “That would be the moral thing to do,” Williamson says. “That would be the loving thing to do. And that would be the smart thing to do.” In summary she says, “The best way to create a more peaceful world is to treat people with greater compassion.”

Jesus and Peace

Williamson’s approach to peace-building is in sync with Jesus last will and testament expressed in today’s liturgy of the word. There he says: My peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. Not as the world (meaning Rome) gives, do I give.”

Jesus words and ultimate fate remind us that Rome’s policies created terrorists no less predictably than our own country’s way of creating “peace.” It led the empire to identify Jesus as a terrorist and execute him accordingly.

Jesus, I’m sure, must have hated Rome. Like all his Jewish contemporaries, he must have despised Rome’s imperial presence in Palestine – especially since it was headed by a man who considered himself God, Savior, Lord, and Prince of Peace. Scholars remind us that empire was the most significant factor shaping Jesus’ life. We know for a fact that he opposed it vigorously – especially its local collaborators personified in the Jewish high priesthood of his day, along with the scribes, Pharisees and Jewish high court. However, his resistance was non-violent.

Yes, Jesus’ peace is not what the world calls peace. It’s not Roman peace which was imposed by means of war. Rome’s, like the Pentagon’s, was peace through victory – always supported by Roman religion. In fact, as scripture scholar John Dominic Crossan, puts it in God and Empire: Jesus against Rome then and now, the exact sequence was religion – war – victory – peace. Sound familiar?

By contrast, the peace Jesus bequeathed had nothing to do with Rome or empire in general. His peace is brought not by victory, but by justice – especially for the poor. His was not peace through victory, but peace through justice. As I noted last week, that point was made in the programmatic sermon the Master gave in Nazareth at the beginning of his public life. These are the words with which he described his very purpose: “The Spirit of the Lord in on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (LK 4: 17-19).

Jesus was about serving the poor, releasing the imprisoned, caring for the disabled, liberating the enslaved, and ending debt servitude. His peace had nothing to do with victory as the world understands it – as Rome understood it or as the United States does. The sequence of Jesus’ gift to the world was religion – nonviolence – justice – peace.

Conclusion

And that’s what Marianne Williamson’s national defense program is about as well. It entails a spiritual conversion that takes its cue as well from Gandhi, and Martin Luther King. It also takes heed of Republican Dwight Eisenhower’s warning about the dangers of the military-industrial complex. Williamson’s program would:

  • Have our country live within its means
  • Emphasize peace building rather than war-making
  • Rather than bombs and drones, it would rain down rebuilt homes, schools, hospitals, factories, temples, mosques and churches on the enemies created by our imperial philosophy of peace through victory   

And to those who say that all of that won’t work or that it’s totally unrealistic, Williamson is fond of responding, “And how’s that realism working out for you?” In fact, it’s creating more terrorists and mayhem while simultaneously destroying the planet.

We’ve got to try something different. And that means national spiritual conversion. It’s in that call for repentance, transformation and restorative justice that the campaigns of Jesus and Marianne Williamson coincide. And that coincidence has nothing to do with memorializing, much less glorifying our country’s ceaseless imperial wars.

(By the way, Marianne has not only achieved the 65,000 unique donors required for her to appear in the debates with other presidential candidates. As well, she has surpassed the minimum 1% support in 3 separate national polls. Nate Silver has identified her as a major candidate.)