Most of us are grieved over the senseless brutality that some humans inflict on others. We are especially appalled at the acts of terror enacted on innocent citizens in regions that are not at war—bombings or mass shootings in the name of religion, politics, or some other ideology. Just as terrible are mass killings done for more personal reasons, by someone who is suffering from mental disorders of confusion, loneliness, anger, and revenge, with no ideology behind their murderous acts, just personal despair. These kinds of incidents, of which there are thousands worldwide, cause me to question at times whether we humans deserve to continue living on this troubled and endangered world.
Many of these atrocities have occurred in the U.S. in the last twenty or more years, and each time I hear of one, I am overcome with deep sadness and shock. One that has remained strongly in my mind and heart is the shooting of ten Amish girls in Pennsylvania in October 2006, while they were in school. This violence towards a gentle people resulted in five children dying, five seriously wounded, and the suicide-death of the shooter. Related to this horrifying mass murder is what followed, making me proud to be a human being and giving me hope for our conflicted world.
Some of the Amish parents and friends of the children who were shot attended the funeral of the man who had done this dreadful deed. They comforted the murderer’s family and friends, assuring them that they held no bitter feelings and that they had forgiven the perpetrator who too is a child of God, though a lost one. The Elder who was the spokesman for the Amish immediately after the shooting incident made this statement to the clamoring reporters: “We must forgive and move on.” That is what these deeply religious people decided to do—forgive and get on with their lives. And getting on with their lives did not negate the long-lasting impact of their loss.
I think the Amish community of individuals was able to “move on” with forgiveness because of their understanding of the personal presence of a loving, merciful God and the reality of a spiritual aspect within each of us human beings. They can more easily live clean, peaceful, and environmentally-responsible lives because they realize and embrace some spiritual truths, which are practiced in their everyday lives.
The Amish in the “Pennsylvania Dutch” areas have been part of the American landscape and culture since the seventeenth century. They, like most alternative groups and cultures, have in their history suffered for their different ways and lack of compromise with the more mainstream culture. But because the Amish have been around for almost 400 years, they are not as persecuted as they once were. People got used to having them around, and their lifestyle has remained basically the same for centuries. They are not growing in substantial numbers; they are not considered political or social activists; and they do not participate much in the mainstream society. Basically, they mind their own business, obey the laws of the land, and are peaceful people.
I think what most Americans love about the Amish and other non-mainstream groups, who have become part of what is considered charming local color, is their gentleness and goodness. Their steadfast faith and loyalty to their beliefs is a testament for the majority in the mainstream that humans can create a society that is compassionate and decent, a society based upon some level of divine principles.
The presence of the Amish and other established religious groups lend not only a diversity to the American melting pot but a hope that if things get too tough there are the Amish and others to rely upon to save our world. (Note though, that most citizens of this country who appreciate the Amish are not joining them. In fact, usually the Amish are ignored except when traveling tourists may stop and buy some organic produce or distinctive crafts when in the Pennsylvania Dutch country.)
How the Amish responded to that particular tragedy is indeed an inspiring model for all people on this strife-torn world to look at. Though the Amish live a lifestyle that may be considered by most “old-fashioned”—not using much (if any) machinery or technology and not being influenced by changing trends of dress and other aspects of our fashion-obsessed dominant culture—they have shown that they are more “progressive” than many when it comes to living by the universal laws of God the Creator within their own level of understanding reality.
What is Progress?
In the U.S., individuals with certain political leanings label their political opponents as “progressives,” which carries negative connotations. However, my use of the term “progressive” is from a much broader perspective that is not confined to one political party’s mindset. I personally consider most individuals or groups who have a level of understanding of some true spiritual meanings and who put them into practice to be “progressive” to some degree. And I believe that possibly many celestials perceive such situations similarly.
Now, that does not mean that all religious people are progressive, for note that I stated if they have an understanding of true spiritual meanings and put them into practice. As many individuals realize, many who tout religious language have no or very little understanding of the true nature of God and divine principles, and they most certainly do not put into practice those divine laws, though they talk a good religious talk.
The term “progressive” then applies to any idea, decision, and action that contributes to the actual moving forward of an individual, group, society, or civilization, progressing towards divine pattern, which is found on the three levels of reality—material, mindal, and spiritual.
In order then for progress—in its most expanded sense—to happen, there has to be spiritualized meanings and motives behind decisions and actions, whether in politics, religion, education, medicine, business, science, the arts, architecture, construction, or any other area of life. Within that context we can better understand the statement in The URANTIA Book: “Can you not advance in your concept of God’s dealing with humans to that level where you recognize that the watchword of the universe is progress?”
Unfortunately, the word “progress” has been cheapened by applying it mainly to financial gain, regardless of the costs to the environment, individuals, and society in general. I all too often hear: “You can’t stop progress,” when discussing the harmful effects of overdevelopment in an area, without concern for the negative ramifications on the surrounding community and natural environment. Irresponsible and unethical growth and development are not progress in the true meaning of progress.
My dear friend, Lah-May Bremer, reiterates what many of us in Global Community Communications Alliance (as well as other progressive people) have said. In her article “Radical Restructuring Needed” she wrote: “Humankind desperately needs leaders—real leaders—not those particular ones in power who have contributed in a big way to the many and immense problems on this planet. Every war, every famine, every environmental disaster, every corporate maneuver to control the world’s resources, etc. demonstrates the ineptitude of many current world leaders. The world needs strong, courageous, noncompromising leaders who can step in and provide direction to turn things around. We need leaders who are in tune with the laws of the universe and will of God—the Creator of all.”
Lah-May goes on to state that actual progressive leaders seek “in humility, what the all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful Creator is trying to lead them to do for the benefit of all of His creation. Progressive leaders consider the whole of creation and apply that radical concept in every area of decision-making. A civilization that sustains life, love, cooperation, peace, and well-being for all people will need leaders who are the most spiritually-advanced. Those who are the most spiritually advanced do not concern themselves with religious traditions, dogmas, political parties, or other separating belief systems. They are concerned about people and their souls. They realize as leaders they are responsible for the development and actualization of those the Creator has entrusted them with.” Note that the souls of people must be considered. In a true progressive civilization, the well-being of persons includes their material and psychospiritual status.
The Amish people’s acts of kindness, gratitude, humility, ministry, love, and forgiveness in the face of unjust brutality reflect some very important basic divine principles that should be practiced on all levels of conflict and confusion—whether within a family, a neighborhood, town, country, or internationally. These people of strong faith are true followers of one of the greatest Peacemakers of all who walked this world—Jesus. They, as Jesus would today if he were present in human form, allow the peace of the spirit to reign in their hearts and minds in spite of the crazed ways of retaliation that plague this planet. In a civilization of light and life, retaliation is not considered progressive. In fact, it is considered primitive and barbaric.
How quickly those in our consumer-driven dominant culture grab up the language of the more progressive people, often referred to as the “cultural creatives.” Those caught in the system of mechanistic materialism incorporate the language of cooperation and kindness into the regular rhetoric and jargon of their advertising and politicking, within the framework of their motives of selfishness, greed, and short-sighted visions. Words that had beautiful and inspiring original meanings are now cheapened as they become part of the newest fad or trend that continues to keep our civilization on its mad course of destruction.
For example, I have noticed that all kinds of businesses, big and small, as well as organizations and politicians are using buzz words like “community,” “family,” “sustainable,” “spirit,” “soul,” “diversity,” “heart,” “eco,” and “natural” to promote their products or ideologies that are not, in reality, related at all to the word used. Or if what is being sold is related, it is on a very superficial level, a level that does not bring the degree of change needed to solve serious problems. But it sure does sound good, and it soothes consciences and helps people stay comfortable remaining in a world that (as Omar Bradley once said) has “achieved brilliance without conscience.” Omar Bradley was a general who commanded the U.S. ground forces in the liberation of France and the invasion of Germany in World War II. He declared after a time of deep reflection on the state of our world: “Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.”
The Amish may not be scientific or economic giants, but they are indeed giants in ethics and practical peacemaking. Yet they too still need to make changes if they are to be part of the new civilization of light and life that will manifest at some future time. They are a beautiful culture, but their culture must become even more progressive, more proactive if they are to become powerful change agents in helping to reshape our world.
In these times of the adjudication of the Bright and Morning Star versus Lucifer there must be confrontation of evil, just as Jesus openly and in righteous anger confronted the unethical and greedy business people in the courtyards of the synagogue and later the religious and political leaders who used the name of God to serve their own agendas that perpetrated a broken social and religious system.
Change agents shake up the status quo, which definitely needs shaking up. Numerous books have been written by progressive people of vision who understand at some level the seriousness and complexity of the world’s problems and realize that the dominant, economy-driven culture currently in control must be reshaped and restructured in order to save this world from ecological devastation and/or nuclear holocaust. Many of these progressive people realize that spirituality must be applied in all areas in order for a more cooperative and compassionate civilization to emerge.
We change agents of Global Community Communications Alliance (GCCA) make some people nervous, even angry in our culture-building, exposing of wrongdoing, educating of higher spiritual principles, and giving a vision of a civilization of light and life. Our existence makes some people uncomfortable because truth expressed in community living and in written and spoken language that encourages rethinking, reshaping, and restructuring shakes comfort zones, and many do not want to think or act outside of their established boxes. For those who do want to jump out of their boxes of conformity, they are inspired by change agents (of GCCA and other progressive groups) to aspire to become “cultural creatives” themselves.
Jesus said to be in the world but not of it. What does that exactly mean? What does that look like? I think that the Amish, in their decisions to remain simpler in their lifestyles and not be part of the industrialization and technolization of modern society, believe that is how they are in the world but not of it. And it is true that with industry and technology have come many problems, but also with this modernization have come many solutions to solving major problems in a fast-growing planetary population.
Along with the horrors of modernization are the wonderful achievements. In every era, every generation, there are the good and the bad that come with material and intellectual advancement. If spiritual meanings are not brought in and practiced in this advancement, then problems and horrors do arise.
As I wrote in another article: “We humans are a mass of inconsistencies and contradictions. It seems that we have within us the capacity to hate just as intensely and deeply as we can love, and we can be just as cowardly and compromising in our dishonesty and greed for power and materials as we can be courageous and noble in our willingness to put our lives, and egos, on the line for ethical and moral ideals. If humans do not tap into the spiritual circuitry innate within them, they can become crazed and brutal, or indifferent to other people’s suffering. If an individual, or group, or culture does not build ideals and values on spiritual reality (not human religious doctrine), then most humans will show their teeth in a brutish manner when scratched or squeezed,” as many have done towards us in GCCA and other truly progressive groups, and as they did towards the Amish decades ago before the mainstream was comfortable with their presence.
It has been said that “what we do in the world flows from how we interpret the world.” I say that individuals’ understanding of circumstantial reality and our memories of events are influenced by our premises, perceptions, and prejudices. If persons do not have an expanded understanding of spiritual principles or scientific data and are full of fear, resentment, disgruntlement, dissatisfaction, and so on, imagine how they perceive the world and their circumstantial reality. Scary isn’t it? If a leader of a nation surrounds himself or herself only with people of one mindset, say of a military mindset or a religious fundamentalistic perspective, the decisions of that leader can be pretty destructive and out of God’s divine pattern.
Walter Brueggeman, in his book The Prophetic Imagination, states: “It is the vocation of the prophet to keep alive the ministry of the imagination, to keep on conjuring and proposing futures alternative to the single one the king wants to urge as the only thinkable one.” Within that context Jesus was a prophet, for he encouraged the ministry of the imagination and presented a vision of a much better world, what he referred to as the “Kingdom of Heaven,” which could happen through personal spiritual transformation of individuals, eventually resulting in a manifestation of a kinder and more cooperative civilization that was founded upon divine administration principles.
The University of Ascension Science and The Physics of Rebellion offers various workshops, seminars, and courses designed to expand progressive people’s understanding of divine administration principles, which need to be implemented in every area of civilization. Terminology is introduced that is new or enhances already-existing concepts that describe and define what a future civilization of light and life will look like.
Back to Lah-May Bremer’s article referred to previously. She comments: “. . . let’s be honest and realistic—effective leaders need to have willing followers. If a radical, capable leader gives direction on how to unite to achieve the necessary goals, will we as individuals be willing to drop our own agendas for the common good of all? Would we be willing to make personal adjustments at all levels of reality—the physical, the mindal, and the spiritual—in order to help others meet their God-given destinies, not to mention our own? Would we be willing to forgo our getting what we want when we want it for lifestyles that are more sustainable to our planet? For example, would we accept eating mainly seasonal foods that are locally grown and produced? Would we be willing to take public transportation and perhaps cut down personal trips to once a week? Would we be willing to radically change our concept of housing and no longer pursue the Great American Suburban Dream and instead see the wisdom of community-based housing, even perhaps downsizing our living situation? Would we be willing to accept that there can be more to God than what our circumscribed religion and belief system currently defines, and then be open to expanded truths? These are just a few of the questions and challenges that each individual must face if we want to contribute to the survival of our species.”
To become those genuine spiritual leaders that our world so desperately needs in order to create an actual future cooperative civilization—true “peace on earth”—somebody has to begin to make such sacrifices and develop the self-restraint needed to sincerely serve others. As a great Hopi prophecy says: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
The URANTIA Book, Paper 4, Section 1, Paragraph 2
Alternative Voice, Volume IV, Number 2, pp. 11–12
 The term “cultural creatives” was coined by Drs. Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, co-authors of The Cultural Creatives, Three Rivers Press.
 “The Change Point of Our Lives” by Niánn Emerson Chase, Alternative Voice, Volume II, Number, pp. 1, 15–16
Inspiring Progress. Religions’ Contributions to Sustainable Development by Gary T. Gardner, W.W. Norton & Company
Alternative Voice, Volume IV, Number 2, pp. 11–12
Niánn Emerson Chase
Niánn Emerson Chase co-founded Global Community Communications Alliance, a 120+ member intentional community (at Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage) located in southern Arizona. Niánn is the Director of the University of Ascension Science and the Physics of Rebellion, as well as serving on the Board of Elders. She is a counselor and a pastor.
Niánn is a world-renowned spiritual leader, educator, activist, and a prolific author with many articles on culture, society, spirituality, and sustainability.
Her spiritual-based philosophies and peace-motivated efforts have positively impacted countless individuals worldwide. Her personal ideals and pursuits are to fuse revelatory spiritual teachings with the philosophical and spiritual truths from all cultures and religions into the classroom and into mainstream consciousness.
Niánn shares her visions and teachings to reveal a global outlook toward a future of world peace and harmony as one planetary family.