All over the world today there is debate about the relationship between politics and religion. As tonight’s GOP debate draws near in Boulder, Colorado, I’ve given some thought to the current candidates. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Thinking critically about the implications of any overarching objectives, is it possible in today’s world, which candidates remain aware of not only their own interests but the interests of all those they lead?
“Value-based” politics is not new. It’s been around for decades. What this increasingly meant was a politics based on a particular interpretation of the Christian religion and what it implied not just for theological understanding but also for political, social and economic practice. Thus, religion is no longer personal and private, it’s political and public.
I’ve come to this realization based upon several trends. First, religious texts are treated as statements of fact rather than a guide to meaning and life. Secondly, the reliance one particular religion as the ultimate truth is frightful. Thus, that belief system becomes the basis of government, law and practice. All other religions may be tolerated but not all will be respected.
We need leadership around sound principles and a political framework that can take us forward rather than back to what would be a contemporary version of the dark ages. The Dali Lama is such a leader. The Dali Lama meets with heads of state and beggars. In essence, he gets information from people at every level of society. By casting a wide net, he understands situations, can analyze them in many different ways, and creates solutions.
There are many, many leaders like the Dali Lama. However, in keeping the Lama’s leadership style in the forefront for a moment, the questions I would ask GOP candidates are:
- Once we understand people and their life, how will you lead the country in extending compassion to the people?
- How will you ensure your administration serve humanity by showing traits of peace, happiness, wisdom and enlightenment?
- In a diverse world, how will your administration and leadership foster inter-religious harmony and the welfare others while maintaining identity, culture and religion? Can we serve humanity without harming it?
If freedom and love is to be restricted, engagement limited, rights undermined, compassion thwarted and peace replaced with force there needs to be good and powerful reasons and a proper dialogue beforehand.
Unfortunately, for the moment, dialogue doesn’t seem to exist.