|Symbol of One Humanity
A Symbol of One Humanity in a Global Age
by Nancy Seifer and Martin Vieweg
• Please see Note at the end of this article •
The wisdom teachings tell us that every form on the material plane is a symbol. Every bird, every flower, every human being has unique qualities that symbolize something about the consciousness within that form. The same is true of events. Events reflect the consciousness of the forces that create them—individuals, groups, or larger social forces. They are often filled with symbols whose meaning can be discerned by the soul’s capacity to peer behind the form and “read the book of life.”
The chapter in “the book” now being written about American politics is fraught with symbolism. Outwardly, the most striking aspect of this chapter is the growing acceptance of diversity in presidential politics. Only a few years ago it would have been hard to fathom a woman, an African-American, a Mormon or an Hispanic-American becoming serious contenders for the presidency. It appears that the forces of globalization have impacted American politics, further reducing barriers that once kept us rigidly divided by race, ethnicity, religion and gender. As the 2st century unfolds, the outer form of a human being seems to matter increasingly less.
Yet we still exist in an infinite diversity of outer forms, each of whose qualities reflects the person's consciousness—to one degree or another. For example, being born in a male or a female body would naturally result in profoundly different life experiences, yet within every individual there are differing degrees of feminine and masculine energies evident in both physical and personality traits. The same is true of people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds. Some strongly exhibit genetic traits passed on by their forbears and others do not. Likewise, with regard to religion, culture and history, some people strongly identify with the group into which they were born, while others do not.
And there are also individuals whose outer form tells you almost nothing about the consciousness within. It is as though the consciousness transcends the outer form to the degree that all labels we've traditionally assigned each other become superfluous. The universal qualities of the soul outshine the person's external traits. This seems to be the case with Barack Obama. Caucasians who hear Obama speak often comment that they don’t see his race. They may not use the word “soul” to describe this quality, but millions of his supporters are responding to the attributes of an awakened soul—a sense of unity, of inclusiveness, and of universality.
Described by many in the media as “a mysterious phenomenon,” Obama cleary defies categorization and stands as a symbol of unity between races, nations and continents. Calling himself a most “improbable” candidate for the presidency of the United States and leader of the free world, he jests about his self-image as a skinny kid with big ears and a funny name. But these are traits that could apply to people of any background, while his uniqueness lies in the blend of cultures, classes, religions, and races that he represents—the universality of his persona that makes him a living bridge between the disparate branches of the human family, in terms of form as well as consciousness.
At a time when ethnic and religious divides are shattering lives around the world, Obama has said that his driving urge is to bridge the divides that have engaged humanity engaged in continual conflict. In his autobiography, Dreams from My Father, we learn of the inner struggles that formed him. His impulse to heal the racial divide in America (and in the world) is traced to the inner conflict he endured while trying to unify the diverse elements within himself. With a Caucasian mother from Kansas and an African father from Kenya, he found himself outside the "normal" categories of American society. Growing up with white grandparents, he was rejected by white Americans. He eventually chose to identify himsef with African-Amercans, though his history on his father's side was not forged in the crucible of slavery. Out of this crucible, he emerged with a consciousness that seems to transcend group identities.
Many centuries ago the Sufi poet and mystic, Rumi, wrote “The body is merely a garment. Go seek the wearer, not the cloak.” In the case of Obama, countless millions of people have been attracted to the wearer—the soul radiating through the outer form. His opponents have sought to focus on “the cloak” in an effort to reduce him to a category—a group of Americans who still arouse fear in other groups. Instead, the light of Obama’s soul is reaching around the world, beyond Americans of all races, religions, classes, and political parties to people around the globe who are following this election with unprecedented zeal. Kenyans claim him as their own, as do the Irish who discovered that a branch of his mother’s family tree had roots in Ireland. A white American commentator observed, "He is a part of all of us." The granddaughter of a former President and member of the oppostion party declared, "He is all of us."
It is said that every soul incarnates for a specific purpose and that the more evolved the soul, the greater the scale of purpose and the wider the influence. As this long campaign season continues to unfold, it becomes increasingly clear that one of the purposes of the soul of Barack Obama is to accelerate human awareness of our shared identity. Our identity as souls, we are told, will emerge in the coming Aquarian age as the foundation of a new civilization premised on the common good. The stated goal of Obama’s campaign is to bridge the divides in America in order to improve the welfare of all. He says that if we can learn to see beyond external differences, we will realize that people of different ethnic and racial groups are not the source of each others' problems but that our common enemy is the unrestrained greed of the few which causes the suffering of the many. This enemy, he says, can only be defeated through cooperation among groups that have been divided historically. His typical stump speech ends with this: “Together we can heal the nation and repair the world.”
The mission of healing divides seems to have been imprinted on Obama from birth, not only in his genes but also in his names. On the side of his father, whom he hardly knew, his names link him to Africa and also to Islam, despite the fact that his father was a nominal Muslim, his mother a nominal Christian, and both were agnostics or atheists as adults. Much has been made of his middle name, Hussein, which was the name of his Muslim paternal grandfather, despite the fact that Obama himself is a Christian. As if to help him overcome the schisms represented by his heritage, his parents endowed him with an auspicious first name that also comes from his paternal inheritance. Barack is a Swahili derivative of an Arab word that means “blessing."
|[Note: Over the past two years, it appears that President Obama has veered away from the course he charted during his campaign. We cannot speculate as to why, and we do not wish to pass judgment. We simply note this fact and ask the reader to keep it in mind while reading this article. ~~ March 11, 2011]
© 2008 Nancy Seifer and Martin Vieweg
A Vision of One Humanity