Love of Country and Higher Love

I’ve been thinking over the weekend about the issues of revolution and love of country. This is the one US federal holiday that lends itself organically to such thoughts.

I spent several hours on July 4th walking with the People’s Organization for Progress in the annual Fourth of July parade in Montclair, N.J. For years POP has been doing this and I’ve been taking part. We carry big, very readable signs that address many issues from a progressive standpoint: Bring the Troops Home Now, Health Care for All, A National Jobs Program, Justice for Trayvon Martin, End Racism, Hands Off Social Security and more.

Larry Hamm, Chair of POP, carries a portable bullhorn for the two miles or so of the march and throughout it, leads us as we chant, “Bring the troops home now!,” “Bring our sons home now!,” “Bring our daughters home now!,” and “No more war!” As is always true, many of the thousands of people who line the sides of the street to watch this popular parade join in, chanting “now” with us and clapping as we go by.

Despite the high heat and humidity, the welcoming response from the crowd made it a memorable and positive day.

I know that there are progressive groups around the country which do something similar, participating in local July 4th parades with visible peace and justice, progressive messages. This is a very good thing.

Revolutionary change, as the leaders of this country’s successful revolution against the British empire 230 years ago certainly knew, can only happen when a critical mass of the population is in either active or passive support of the revolutionary cause. For this to happen, the revolutionary organizers need to have deep popular roots, and they have to be consistently engaged in visible, demonstrative action. Without such visible action the supporters of revolution will not have the confidence necessary to move the whole process forward.

As importantly, people need to feel that the revolutionaries have their interests at heart and are about changes that will make things better. They have to feel that the conditions of life in the country will improve if the social changes being called for come about.

I don’t think this means that the organizers need to be about “waving the flag” or coming across as strongly patriotic. They DO need to respect that for many US Americans, the flag means something and they are proud about their love of country. It is not necessarily a contradiction to have these feelings and to hold progressive views on many issues.

And there’s no contradiction between love of country and love of the world, internationalism which is about supporting the efforts of people everywhere for social, economic and environmental justice and peace. We all need to manifest and embody a higher love which encompasses all of Creation.

Ultimately, it’s this higher love that needs to undergird our individual and movement efforts for positive social change, which in today’s world must be revolutionary because the corporate powers-that-be are so entrenched within the dominant institutions that rule over us.

Will Jennings wrote the lyrics for, and Stevie Winwood sang, the popular song “Higher Love” in 1986. The lyrics are still very relevant in this endangered world with its many struggling people:

Think about it, there must be higher love
Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above
Without it, life is wasted time
Look inside your heart, I’ll look inside mine

Things look so bad everywhere
In this whole world, what is fair?
We walk blind, we try to see
Falling behind in what could be

Worlds are turning and we’re just hanging on
Facing our fear and standing out there alone
A yearning, and it’s real to me
There must be someone who’s feeling for me

I could light the night up with my soul on fire
I could make the sun shine from pure desire
Let me feel that love come over me
Let me feel how strong it could be

Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Where’s that higher love I keep thinking of?

From my experience, and as the song says, higher love is something to be found inside, by conscious effort. It truly is the force that can change the world the way nothing else can.

Ted Glick is the National Campaign Coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Past writings and other information can be found at http://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on twitter at http://twitter.com/jtglick Read other articles by Ted, or visit Ted's website.