“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson
Original post – Summer 2014: As a Canadian, I too joined Ottawa native, Alannis Morissette expressing my delight when I learned that Marianne Williamson was running for Congress. I followed her campaign eagerly and with anticipation waiting to hear the words “I won!” Seriously, I thought it was a “no brainer” campaign, that is until the ballots were counted and sadly Williamson didn’t make the top three. California! What were you thinking?!
Although I now follow politics, I have never supported a political party nor have I had a political favorite – not even Obama. The only person who has come close to being a favorite is Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser but she’s a public servant and sadly retired from public service a few years ago. I wish she would run for office, I would most definitely volunteer to help run her campaign. But with Marianne Williamson, well this is different – she is different, what she has to say is different and the difference that she brings to the table is a welcoming breath of fresh air of dirty politics, greed, hypocrisy, and abuse of power as some politicians have known to have done.
Who is Marianne Williamson?
It was in the mid to late 90s when I first became aware of Marianne Williamson by reading her first and best-selling book A Return to Love. Like millions of other readers what Williamson shared struck to the core of our hearts. A Return to Love is an interpretation of the spiritual thought system found in A Course in Miracles where Jesus was supposed to have dictated to a psychiatrist in the Seventies.
She preaches the limitless power of the individual (which she calls the “Self”) to improve, to conquer hate, falsity, and self-pity (which she calls the “Ego”), and to love. She teaches that there is a “miracle” in every person, just as there was in Jesus: “The miracle is a shift in our own thinking: the willingness to keep our own hearts open.” To date Williamson has 6 best seller books listed in The New York Times. Her first book, A Return to Love spent 39 weeks on that list (in 1992) and is credited as being one of the two books that helped bring New Age perspectives to the American mainstream.
Through her books, seminars, lectures and tireless work with AIDS patients and her devotion to the homeless has made her a saint. She has unwittingly become the Daughter of the Press and America’s latest Mary Magdalene (dubbed as Media-lene). She had conducted the marriage of Liz Taylor, Cher, Richard Gere, Kim Basinger, Michael Jackson, Bette Midler, Shirley MacLaine, and Croesian tycoons such as David Geffen and Barry Diller (among others), who have also helped to raise money for her charities.
I like that Williamson is a spiritualist (not religious) therefore her politics is not based on the binary “us” vs “them” model that stands in the way of social and political change. “Religion,” Williamson explains in an article featured in Psychology Today, “is like a map. The route isn’t important. It’s the destination that matters. Let’s face it: organized dogmatic religion hasn’t been a great gift to mankind. The divisions among religions are as absurd as the divisions among nations. When God created the world, he didn’t draw a line between Canada and America.”
Dark Night of the Soul
This is exceptionally refreshing to hear and when you do hear her speak her vocabulary is oozing with goddess talk. What I mean by that is that she is particularly fluent in the language of peace, universality, unity, wholeness and she brings a powerful message of love to all that would hear her speak. This type of vocabulary is a signature trait that one develops after enduring the dark night of the soul. The article recognizes the heart of her message is her return from ‘the depths and delights of debauchery to an austere plateau of sanctity. This is something her followers understand, “…when she talks about sex, swinging, drugs, and one-night stands, it is sincere; she has done it–and we know it. And we like the fact that she has done it. She has been to the edge and she came back for us.”
A life of “debauchery” is not the only impetus for entering the dark night of the soul, it could also be a near death experience, death itself, trauma (of any kind), anything could set you on this path, it depends on the person and circumstances. But for Williamson, it seems that this “life of debauchery” which I believed ended with a nervous breakdown is what started Williamson on her path beginning with her first book.
“In the flesh, Williamson is a tiny, highly charged packet of sexuality. In her lectures, she brings all the excitement, comedy, and passion of sex to religion: not for nothing is she a former singer. She uses the language and attraction of sensuality to hold an audience. Her charisma is sexual and humorous. Watching her perform is more like wrestling naked with Venus than kneeling with the saints. Marianne Williamson is the man-eater who became a fisher of men.” As she writes in her book, “Whatever sounded outrageous, I wanted to do. And usually, I did it.” She sums up her movement like this: “We are a prodigal-son generation. We’ve done the dark side. We’re ready to move on.”
The article in Psychology Today notes that “Williamson fills a void left by the isolationism of established Christianity and Judaism. That is the essential core of her appeal. She teaches love and common sense as all religions do, but she does so in the irreverent language of the Seventies. Americans are hungry for spiritual sustenance. She is doing admirable work that no one else wants to do and she is needed by her followers, the poor, the homeless and those dying of AIDS.. For whatever reason, she certainly cannot be blamed for the spiritual vacuum which she is filling. She is simply providing the goods to America, and very entertainingly at that.’
Abuse of Power
Interesting to note, the article I’m quoting in Psychology Today was first published in 1992 and last reviewed on June 20, 2012, where it states that, “Political despair is another reason for Williamson’s meteoric rise: politics is less than ever providing an outlet for people’s frustrations. Bush is increasingly despised as the only possible President in a field of scorned candidates; Clinton is trusted by few voters; Perot is the hope of a third-party in a two-party system. It is no wonder that so many are turning to Williamson’s psychic arming of the individual. She herself, as a self-declared “leftist,” has contempt for much of the hypocrisy of politicians.”
Within the past six or seven months I too seemed to have developed a strong distaste for the hypocrisy of nosy politicians that abuse their power, especially when they use their power of inquiry to investigate private citizens, which I believe is illegal. This type of inquiry is best left for the RCMP to do and even then they need a good reason and a warrant (I think) to conduct such an investigation.
A good example of this can be found in Rebekah Brook’s story, the ex-tabloid editor of News of the World who was recently cleared, on June 24, 2014, of all charges of conspiring to hack phones, bribe officials and obstruct police investigations. Phone and computer hacking, cyber bullying (etc.) is a very unnerving experience and I hope the culprits are caught and prosecuted. However, journalists like politicians, do serve the public interest in what they do and that needs to be preserved.
That being said, nobody (not even politicians) should be above the law! William Hague, the foreign secretary, when asked about the phone-hacking trial on a television program said that the exposure of the scandal had led to a “greater distance now between politicians and the press” and that it’s a good thing because it is healthier for our democracy than the situation that prevailed before…”
Back to the article:
“Williamson’s success is a reflection of hopelessness both at home and abroad. For many, the recession represents the end of the American dream at home. For so many of the baby boomers, the glamorous idealistic careers that they expected never happened; now at 40-years-old, they are in debt, too. And there is no outlet abroad anymore either: the American century of international domination is over. The Cold War defeated not only the collapsed Evil Empire; it has bankrupted America as well.
The end of the Cold War is not only a matter of power. It is also a question of values: a whole generation was taught that Red Russia was evil. Evil might be defined as Communism. In America’s anti-Communist foreign policy, there was also a morality for home. Now that is gone too.
What is evil? What is good? Whom would you rather ask: the local vicar or witty pretty Ms. Williamson?” The end of the Cold War? Anti-Communist foreign policy? A morality for home? If the Cold War was not only a matter of power but also a question of moral values, what does that say about America in the events that happened after the Cold War? Bush, 911, terrorists, “axis of evil”, Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, war on Iraq, etc. Remember this article was first published in 1992 (reviewed in 2012). I’m quoting this article because it is here that perhaps we find the seeds planted for Williamson’s political career for I find it remarkable that 22 years later, look where she is now, running for Congress!
It remains to be seen if politics is a good fit for Williamson. Politics, especially American politics, is cut-throat harsh. I’d hate to see her become jaded by the experience yet I’m curious to see what type of changes a spiritualist, bringing the message of the Divine Feminine, would make in the political sphere. One thing for sure, I know that Williamson would not be caught abusing her power of authority. This is because Williamson is all about empowerment which is a type of power that enables people to live more fulfilling lives.
Power is not simply possessed it is wielded and it is also something that can be struggled against and it can also be shared. Consequently, empowerment is collective, expansive, and beneficial and not merely satisfying for the person. Empowerment increases the social, economic, political, and spiritual strength of people and their communities.
With Williamson I believe the value she could bring to American politics is a revision of the ‘morality for home’, ‘What is evil and what is good?’ Williamson understands what Victoria L. Bromely writes in her book Feminism Matters, Debates, Theories, Activism about systems of inclusion and exclusion, the structures of domination and subordination, and the hierarchies of privilege. Williamson knows that systems of inclusion are a way of ordering society and the power that is embedded in such a system of hierarchies of privilege that exist in oppositional categories of difference that rely on notions of “us” vs “them,” as well as zero-sum power. This is why I believe that Williamson should at least be given a chance to bring her magic of the spiritual revolution and a new uprising of people who eschew labels of the Nineties that she helped create, to American politics in the new millennium.