Are we involved in politics from the moment of conception? Is there such a thing as family politics, politics in friendships and at the workplace? Is politics more global than government? Sylvia Weber, MSN, CNS, the author of A Guide for Compassion in Political Power believes that the answer to these questions is YES! Sylvia discusses the role of power and control—is it for us , for power over others, or to use and share for the good of the many? Do we live our lives consciously in the moment, aware of the impact we have for today and the future? Have we integrated our spirituality into how we live our lives? What is compassion and its role in our interactions with others and the world around us? How do the concepts of power, control, consciousness, spirituality, and compassion relate to all political arenas? Sylvia answers these questions, as well as sharing strategies for being more comfortable with ourselves and how to bring compassion into all the political arenas we’re involved in. Even though A Guide for Compassion in Political Power is applicable in all of life, almost all of the examples are related to government politics.
Throughout history, ours, as well as other cultures, accept and tolerate many forms of violent acts toward one another – individuals, groups, nations, all forms of life and the environment. Unfortunately, our concept of violence changes with our exposure and experience so that we tolerate and minimize ever increasing acts of violence. We allow and encourage arrogance and greed, even when it destroys. In Western thought, we tend to believe in a beginning and an end instead of eternity, which allows us to be nearsighted rather than to look at our impact on all generations, present and future. We also have the false notion that we are separate from all that is around us which further allows us to hurt others and the environment. This culture and the systems within it need to be changed and healed. George Lakoff, PhD, a professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, in his book, “The Political Mind” makes several points which are helpful for the purposes of this guide (17). He states that we need to become increasingly aware of the cultural patterns that are a part of the structure of our brain. By doing this we can consciously change them when they do not encourage the moral foundation government is based on. Lakoff also states that government has the moral mission of protecting and empowering the people and our need to be aware of and not allow policies and directions that make government unaccountable. He uses deregulation and privatization as examples. He stresses the importance of empathy with the responsibility and strength to act on it and the current neuroscience understanding that our brains have specific centers for empathy, cooperation, and connection. In all political arenas there are many personal agendas. This is not always bad. I have found that most people want to feel an inner sense of goodness. People in elected positions need to answer to their constituents, their contributors, their political parties, their political colleagues, etc. Lobbyists and those who pay them have an important role in the political arena when their position is not abused. They, like politicians, need to maintain a broader perspective on the impact on others and the environment we live in: what is in the highest good of the many, not the few. James O’Dea, past president of the Institute of Noetic Science said that we created a world of simulated reality with technology (25). He said that it’s now time to return to a true reality that’s inclusive, because, as we know, when one suffers all suffer, when one’s liberty and equality is taken away, everyone’s liberty is threatened and diminished. The purpose of this guide is to bring together many known and new ideas and information to create a way of bringing a shift, through compassion, in all of our political arenas. As Dolores Krieger, PhD, RN, stated at a conference “where we not only think deeply, we also care deeply.” The guide will discuss power and control, compassion, consciousness, the spiritual dimension and strategies to create change. The information in this guide applies to all politics in life – family, friends, work - with the primary focus on government politics. Since some of the material came from discussions among family, friends, conferences, and/or colleagues, there may not always be citations and bibliography references. I apologize for these omissions. To some, this guide may seem idealistic, naïve, ridiculous or ignorant. It depends upon your perspective. I choose to act from the concept of innocence – the ability to approach and see each situation with “new eyes” while taking into account lessons previously learned, to believe in the ability of people to change and transform, to see the good that can be and to act as if it is here now. We are as limited as our mind and spirit are. This guide and its strategies may not be a fit for you. Please, do not immediately dismiss it, without thought and/or exploration. You may find that this experience is like a mirror is being held up to you for your own growth and transformation. This may be an opportunity for change. I would like to end the preface with a metaphor that is an underlying principle of the guide – that of the brook. The brook is always changing and its path is not always smooth. It comes to rocks and other obstacles to eventually find a way around or over the obstacle, and it keeps on flowing. We need to find a way around the obstacles and keep on flowing towards a government and society that is based on compassion for the good of the many and where the power is returned to the people.
SYLVIA WEBER is a clinical nurse specialist at the Miriam Hospital Department of Psychiatry, the government relations consultant for the Rhode Island State Nurses Association, and is on the American Nurses Association-Political Action Committee board of trustees. Sylvia, her daughters Ilene and Susan, and their families live in Rhode Island.