Politics, Democracy, “Superior Self,” and Such according to Walt Whitman
Mike DePung — Post 26
Super Tuesday — quite a political event! I want to discuss a few corollary ideas about today’s political scene. Wanna guess what they are? They have to do with the link of knowing ourselves and hearing our own hearts. Surprise!
Powerful thoughts and significant thinkers transcend time, and Walt Whitman transcends time. Whitman pulled off something that I really admire: his life and work maintained consistency with the core self identity of his own heart.
And…?! Okay, let’s look at Walt’s own words from Democratic Vistas, the same passage I quoted in yesterday’s post. When Whitman considers the vast potentials and pitfalls of our democracy in the United States, he argues that self-governance of the spiritual sort is the way to preserve this democracy.
“Indeed, this perennial regulation, control, and oversight by self-suppliance, is sine qua non [something that is essential] to democracy…a strong mastership of the general inferior self by the superior self, is to be aided, secured, indirectly, but surely, by the literatus, in his works, shaping for individual or aggregate democracy, a great passionate body, in and along with which goes a great masterful spirit.”
Whitman, Democratic Vistas
Point? We need to recognize that knowing our own hearts, the “superior self,” provides the only true regulation that will work in a nation that desires freedom. Freedom must begin with knowing self. This knowledge of self drives learning. The literatus, great thinkers and creators of literature to whom Whitman refers, provide the ideas that we complete in ourselves when we receive them. Educational focus should be to integrate, assimilate, and use academics to draw out the heart to discover passionate purpose that is then expressed in this world.
I’m not saying that we should only be studying literature. I am saying, though, that Whitman knew we had to discover the deepest self and learn, think, and live in order to express that. We don’t necessarily take for truth what anyone produces, but we take in ideas and reconstruct them into our own personal truth that keeps us moving forward in our purpose. When we are doing that, all the darknesses that derive from ego drive are rectified and relegated to their proper place.
Our hearts never direct us to harm others, only to live our truth. Idealistic? Yes. Truth? More of a yes. The way we should all want to live? Absolutely! Living to express self grants significance, joy, and love. Anyone who lives those will not desire to harm others, to seek self-advancement at the cost of others, or to control and manipulate others’ lives. Those are all ego motives, and they destroy individuals, families, communities, and…just expand that to the world at large. Ego motives drive the politicians and political structure today — constant manipulation. How? Well, answer that for your own truth.
They also destroy democracies: “Even today, …blind fury of parties, infidelity, entire lack of first-class captains and leaders..” are Whitman’s words about America in his time. Hmmm? Sound familiar? Does to me. The goal and focus of education, the government, and our society should be to discover that “superior self” and live the joy, peace, love, and significance of our own hearts’ truths.
Walt has a lot more to say, especially in his powerful poetry. A la Walt, fashion it into your own truth. Be your own politician and let your heart lead you to all the possibilities and creations that are bound up in your eternal souls. That is mastery. That is leadership. That is NOT going to be found in the faulty, faux leadership or incomprehensible outcomes of Super Tuesday!
Onward and upward!