Sebrina Somers is Founder of Religica, the Spehar-Halligan Associate Professor for Constructive Theology, and serves as the Director of the Center for Religious Wisdom & World Affairs at the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University. Michael spends his time at home today … because we’re in a pandemic! He serves on national and international boards, publishes in his guilds, and hikes with his wife, daughter, and their 100-pound Hovawart when he isn’t on a zoom call.
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My name is Sebrina Somers and I’m casting a blog to you titled “America’s Spiritual Destiny.”
Every President’s Day, the U.S. Senate reads George Washington’s Farewell Address to honor the legacy and example of the first president. The tradition was started during the darkest days of the Civil War in 1862, to boost morale and remind the republic of the challenges that threatened its unity. One of the often-overlooked gems of that address is the spiritual and moral foundation on which the country was built. Washington’s Farewell Address, along with the Charters of Freedom, shows that the United States of America was founded on spiritual ideals and must continue to cultivate them. They are sometimes called American values, but as George Washington warned, they are hollow words when they are not guided by spiritual principles. For that reason, despite all of the country’s material accomplishments, it will not know peace until it honors its spiritual destiny.
If tests and difficulties are opportunities for growth, then what are we learning from these times of pandemic, social upheaval, political strife, and environmental disasters? One confirmation is that the problems of our nation are intertwined with the rest of humanity. It is clear that the world civilization is maturing and crystalizing under mounting pressures because what once seemed like diffuse problems are concentrating and rising to the level of global issues. Our survival—our peace and security at home—depends on helping to solve the troubles plaguing all of humanity.
However, no amount of money, expertise, nor military force seems to abate the challenges we face. Initiative after initiative, the genuine efforts of nations are failing to eradicate the global challenges that afflict their citizens at home, not to mention the rest of the planet. Is there a better way?
Experience shows that analyzing world issues through material lenses and applying material solutions yield inadequate results. It is analogous to treating the symptoms, instead of the true underlying problems. That is why poverty, hunger, disease, inequity, lack of education, and environmental issues are compounding into ever greater threats. Not until we recognize that these issues are symptoms of underlying spiritual problems can we begin applying spiritual solutions and truly begin healing the world.
And with that growing awareness, America’s spiritual destiny comes into focus.
The issues we face as citizens of this country and the world stem from the lack of unity, justice, equity, compassion, courage, love, truthfulness. So long as we fail to embody and universally apply these spiritual solutions, the mounting troubles will increase. It is our responsibility, individually and as a nation, to live up to our destiny.
As the founding charters remind us, the strength and character of America rest on its individual citizens. For that reason, we cannot depend on top-down solutions. But instead, it is the responsibility of each individual to cultivate a spiritual character within themselves and their communities. It is imperative that we embody and apply spiritual solutions to eradicate racism, establish the full emancipation of women, eliminate extreme disparities between the rich and the poor, empower every voice in decision making, establish harmony among followers of different religions, put an end to unbridled nationalism, and acknowledge the oneness of humanity.
The list may seem daunting, but accomplishing difficult goals by applying spiritual principles is the promise of America. And when we demonstrate that such feats are possible within our own borders, the path to world peace and security will become clear.