Why Marianne Williamson Needs To Face Reality


One of the more disturbing elements of what has been a formidable push of activating yogis in the political sphere is this constant ‘oneness’ I keep seeing repeated. Julian Walker succinctly dealt with this issue, so I will not repeat his brilliant exposition on the topic. The point here is this: we are not one, in terms of ethics and moral values, how we carry ourselves in society and what we are trying to accomplish, or what we believe America should be, as a nation. This matter was further doused with rain water and patchouli yesterday when I saw this quote passed around from Marianne Williamson:

No matter who wins the election, we need a collective leap in consciousness in order to take our country and our world in the direction of peace and love.

I love that Williamson is engaging in some form of social activism and trying to lead a community she has been creating for decades into the political realm. But I don’t understand the strategy behind any of this. Let’s break it down bit by bit.

No matter who wins the election
It does matter who wins the election. Starting a sentence with such a cop-out is a set-up for disaster. I keep hearing that just getting out to vote is enough. While I’d rather have more people vote than less, there are very real issues at stake. A new Supreme Court judge (or judges), for one—Romney has expressed his interest in overturning Roe vs Wade. This would be by appointing a conservative judge sympathetic to the cause. In fact, watch his speech last night at the Al Smith dinner, a ‘comedic’ talk in which both he and Obama traded ‘fun’ barbs (it’s an institution for candidates to appear at this event right before the election). Romney closed thoughtfully, though couldn’t resist adding in that even though he knew that most people in the Manhattan audience would not be voting for him, he was related to them by being ‘in solidarity with the rights of the innocent child waiting to be born.’ Just like in the second presidential debate, when he answered a question about gun rights with conservative family values, the man cannot get off the topics of one-man/one-woman marriage and being pro-life, an awfully co-opted term which is better phrased ‘anti-choice.’

This is only one aspect of a Romney victory. Others include: additional, unpaid for military spending; repealing universal healthcare ‘on day one’; ending Dodd-Frank; whisking in the Keystone XL pipeline; cutting education spending; and you can forget about regulations for battling climate change. These are all extremely important issues that will help to define what America is going to look like in the immediate future. Sorry Marianne, your fantasy of a compassionate planet is not going to magically manifest itself if Romney wins.

we need a collective leap in consciousness
First of all, we still don’t even know what consciousness even is, or where it comes from. What I’m guessing Williamson is referring to is either a) neural plasticity, our ability to change brain patterning, or b) our moral structure. Both are fine objectives, even if her phrasing is off. Being noble sometimes has nothing to do with being realistic, however. While America has made incredible strides in the last century at curbing racism and sexism, for two, not to mention the aforementioned right to choose, as well signing into law the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act—something Mitt Romney has still not said he supports, mind you—the idea that once the Mayan calendar ends we are all going to magically ‘see the light’ and make this collective leap is insane. It sets one up for disappointment, as well as lets one of the hook for doing the actual work it takes to get such legislation signed into law.

And, despite what New Age philosophy preaches, America is not going to mystically ‘wake up.’ What changes culture is legislation, regardless of how much one pleads for divine intervention. That’s why I’m blown away that Williamson would hold her Sister Giant events after the election. I’m all for getting more women involved in politics. That’s an amazing initiative. Here’s the thing: Christians have been doing this for four decades, at least. They’ve built entire colleges with the idea of raising a Christian army to fight for legislation that represents their morals, which, again, reflect anti-gay, anti-abortion, conservative values. This hardly seems like the collective leap forward Williamson pines for.

in order to take our country and our world in the direction of peace and love.
This might be the most troublesome part of the entire sentence. As a yoga instructor, violence is not something that inspires me. Fortunately, as Stephen Pinker has pointed out, humanity is at our least violent time in history. This is not going to be comforting to those still suffering under Islamic militancy, cows being fed candy because corn prices are too high, or anyone in North Korea. Overall, we’re pushing it forward. Yet this idea that the world will ever exist in peace and love is absurd. It amazes me that as wrapped into Eastern philosophy as many of the New Age tilt are, they have not taken to heart the very basic principle that when you introduce a concept, you by default summon its opposite. Our entire existence hinges on a balance of opposing forces. This might not be the way I like reality to be, but it’s the very force that created what I am. It’s the very force that created all of us.

This notion that a few workshops, some online teleseminars, a dozen faux-quantum shamans, and maybe a couple of pet psychics for good measure are going to somehow overturn the evil of corporate greed and military domination while lifting the veil of ignorance from every American, and then global, pair of eyes is not even a good movie plot. We tried that and failed. Getting people to the polls is wonderful. With 17 days left until the election, we need to actually inform them what is at stake. Unfortunately many people have only begun tuning in to this country’s politics over the last two weeks, which is better than not tuning in at all. But there’s a lot of recent history that’s been purposefully kept in the dark, and the light we need to evolve in a really compassionate manner is at stake. If you want to be a sister, or brother, giant in this country, give people some direction, and quit throwing fanciful little nothings into the air. When they blow away, our only recourse is going to be blaming karma or some god when the responsibility has been ours all along.

19 Responses to “Why Marianne Williamson Needs To Face Reality”
  1. Donovan says:

    You make some interesting points. I don’t agree with all of it- for example i think voting is a total waste of time. But I enjoyed hearing another side.

  2. Philip Steir says:

    @Donovan…how much time do you spend voting? Maybe your doing it incorrectly? I’d actually be interested in hearing back from you as a way of informing me or educating…this citizen (me) on exactly what you spend your time doing that makes voting such a waste of your may I presume, precious time? I’m only guessing but Derek’s essay and it’s sentiments here are very likely written about someone like yourself.

  3. Nikki says:

    Hmmm. I have to admit I’m completely perplexed by this blog. On many levels. First, why a full page critique on two-sentances from Facebook? Next, have you actually been following Sister Giant? I’ve been trying to stay on top of what she’s doing because I’m very impressed with her leadership – in the spiritual community, and as a modern-day feminist who truly represents a beautiful, creative, feminine spirit in a way that I have never seen before. Like many women, I couldn’t identify with Gloria Steinem or other feminist figures because they were approaching things like a man (to me.) Marianne is trying to inspire more women to get involved in politics – because she (and I. and many) believe that if there were more women leaders in the world, who came with a spiritual viewpoint and lead from the heart, that there would be more peace and more love, and less war and aggression. And another thing that she is doing with Sister Giant is raising awareness for a very important problem- that many spiritual people don’t get involved in politics because they see it as too toxic and negative, and on the spiritual path, people tend to steer clear of something that seems this hopeless and dark.
    She’s not saying “it doesn’t matter who wins” …I think she clearly understands all that is at stake and HAS been holding events in here L.A., online, and at Yale pre-election (and elsewhere, I’m sure.) The comment that we need Peace no matter who wins is absolutely valid. The fighting between parties is obviously not working for us. She’s calling people just like me to involved again. And I deeply appreciate her putting herself out there and speaking intelligently, passionately and spiritually – something I have not heard in Politics in a long time, and sorry – but I am still perplexed about how you could take a FB quote and claim that she “needs to face reality” – I don’t see any other leaders in the spiritual community facing reality and motivating people to get involved like she is. Nikki. Founder http://www.Glad.is

    • Derek Beres says:

      Thank you Nikki for your reply.

      Why a full page critique on two-sentances [sic] from Facebook?

      The post was from Twitter. In a soundbyte culture, people often try to parse a big concept into as few letters as possible. So this was an example of one ‘big’ message she was trying to get across. There is no reason why a sentiment cannot be open to critique. Think about how many critiques and attempts to understand any one of Shakespeare’s works exist – hundreds if not thousands of books. She presented this publicly as a statement of fact, and is thereby open to interpretation. This was mine.

      Have you actually been following Sister Giant?

      Yes. As I stated in the article, I have a lot of respect for what she’s doing. This article was not a critique on Sister Giant. I said it’s a great thing. The subject at hand, however, is not.

      I don’t see any other leaders in the spiritual community facing reality and motivating people to get involved like she is.

      That’s too bad, because I see many, most of whom have a better grip on reality than the statement and similar sentiments Williamson has put forth? Where are you looking, or not looking, for leadership?

  4. Serena says:

    Nikki Thank you, for speaking to my confusion with this article. This seems to be a long article in response to a short FB quote. What I am getting from her quote is that no matter who wins the election we as a country need to wake up, politicly and spiritually. Simple.

  5. There are many more reforms needed – we all could make lists as long as the bills your representatives never read. But do not vote 3rd party unless that party is succeeding at changing US election law to make them more than a vampire party.

    In the end, those whom we elect will never make the changes we want to actualize. We in our organizations must make those changes. Power will not give away power. We must organize with others to take it in order to make this world evolve. But that cannot be done without responsive government. The fate of those dolphins and whales at Taiji and the Farrow Islands are in the trade treaties our president signs.

    I have 2 Republican legislators and another who is old sick and some say senile. No matter how many letters I send Paul Ryan and Ron Johnson, they will never do anything to help animals or stop the rape of the environment. They must be removed. Therefore, I take elections seriously. There are real consequences for sentient beings if I play Russian roulette with my vote.

  6. Matt G says:

    Marianne Williamson is dead on. It really doesn’t matter who wins, America and the world need to wake up and they are waking up. Throwing your energy into elections is a silly waste. Abortions or lack of abortions is just one more wedge issue to keep us interested. It’s a symptom of an political-economic system that’s circling the drain. Both major parties have no interest in solving the world’s problems, only capitalizing on them. Elections are about the old paradigm of power and control. Walk away. You change the world by changing yourself.

    • Justin says:

      Agreed. I felt this was quite a nit-picky, and not very compassionate, or even fair, criticism of her statement. Granted, wishful thinking and singing kumbaya does not effect real change. But real change is not going to come from our bloated political bureaucracy, either, especially in this age of corporate speech, extreme polarization, and only listening to the voters of one state every 4 years. And even when it does, top-down change does not mean all Americans change with it—slavery was outlawed 150 years ago and yet racism still exists in America.

      That’s the kind of “change in consciousness” that I read in Marianne Williamson’s statement: that individually we will all eventually (though it may take a long time) come to recognize our collective interdependence and our shared humanity. And while that perspective obviously doesn’t solve every problem, it does make a lot of currently-debated points (such as abortion rights) moot, at least in my opinion. There will come a time when only fringe parties could possibly advocate the current platform of the Republican Party. Will there still be conflict and debate? Of course. But it will be reasonable, within a reasonable range of opinion that can actually be bridged by dialogue, compromise and understanding.

      Also, re: peace and love… so maybe it won’t happen in our lifetime, or even 300 years from now. But isn’t it helpful to have a direction or vision to unify your goals and mobilize allies? Otherwise what are we working toward? Otherwise you are just taking a stand on a hodgepodge collection of issues, just like the candidates this election cycle—neither of whom seem to have a grand vision for our country.

  7. Giselle says:

    I think Marianne Williamson is a leader and a voice for anyone who knows that what we see, hear, smell, taste and touch are only a small fraction of what’s really going on. “Consciousness” is the intangible “Intelligence” that fuels the seen and unseen universe. We are living in the material universe, but what you can’t see or touch requires being totally in touch with “feeling.” Some people are not able to be guided by their feelings, which are more real than someone’s verbal version of things or the written word that can get wildly misconstrued. When humanity starts to listen to their internal signals rather than the thinking and fallible brain/ego, there will be no more hatred, division, violence and greed. The collective “Consciousness” will prevail and, yes, we will all be “One” in the sense of not being able to hurt another, because, in essence, you would be hurting yourself. That takes more than just going through the motions of voting or not voting.

    • Shyam says:

      Giselle, if feelings “are more real than someone’s verbal version of things or the written word” and can therefore “get wildly misconstrued” then how do you know what Marianne is even saying, that is unless your “feelings” about Marianne’s words are somehow more valid than Derek’s? Is that what you’re saying? That your feelings about things are more valid and authentic and genuine than someone else’s?

      How we say things matters, for it communicates what we feel and think. If it doesn’t communicate what we feel and think then there is no point in talking.

      What’s your point?

  8. Swami X says:

    I think it less relevant how long or short her statement and more relevant the ideas that are presented. We as a society focus so much on the minutia (Derek, is that spelled correctly or are you going to “[sic]” me on it?) and forget the real issues. This is akin to spending all your time focusing on whether Zeus was a historical figure or not at a tool dismissal for some of the universal lessons that may be acquired from the mythology. Today’s intellectuals, and I include New Age intellectuals as well, would argue with Jesus about how the Prodigal Son grew up–“Was he successful in business?” “Did he marry?” “Did he ever hit his wife?” And conclude that if any of his responses didn’t jive with what their worldview considers “success” then the Prodigal Son should have best remained outcast…and miss the lessons in the story.

    I don’t necessarily agree with everything the author of the article wrote but I certainly welcome him offering what is unfortunately a novel idea to a New Age world. In a conscious group, differing opinions would not just be tolerated but actually welcome. The New Age is often little more than a another church with no fundamental differences to the old ones, especially in regards to the principle that “Any words spoken against the church shall be fought against at all expense!” They worship a god, only they call theirs “Oneness.” Their priesthood wears yoga pants or other fancy outfits that separate them from the congregation. And as open in consciousness as they claim to be, they are just as closed-minded–and, contrary to popular New Age belief, you can’t function as a human without a head.

    My understanding is that the author is suggesting that while meditation and manifesting, creative visualization and cat/cow poses, may be useful, this needs to be balanced with action. Reading a thousand books on gardening won’t create a beautiful garden–only getting your hands dirty will. Even if, lo and behold, due to your amazing mastery of the book The Secret you manifest the perfect woman to appear in the same aisle as you of the New Age bookstore where you are thumbing through the next dozen books on manifesting that you are going to purchase, without actually asking her out you will never get the girl. Many New Agers hide behind the so-called laws of esoterica to avoid taking action which, yes, can be scary, but no true spiritual path doesn’t require some risk.

    Whether Marianne Williamson is “good” or “bad,” or whether she even Tweeted what she did or not is irrelevant to the discussion. Perhaps some of the author’s pointed writing about the specifics has contributed to many readers getting lost in the particulars but one usually needs a springboard to jump off of; in this case it was Marianna’s [sic] tweet.

    Swami X, rebel yogi

    • Derek Beres says:

      Hello Swami,

      While I agree with most of your points here, I’m not quite sure what your’e really getting at except taking shots at me for using a journalistic tool (as that is part of my trade) for spotlighting a misspelling. (Was that really necessary or relevant at all to the rest of what you said? If so, I don’t see how.) The entire premise of this piece is based on Marianne’s tweet, so how could it not be relevant to what I wrote? What she wrote is exactly what this article discusses. In that sense, I’m not following the logic of your comment – every critique needs a ‘springboard.’

      That said, I’m in alignment with your own thoughts on the necessity of getting your hands dirty. In a follow-up to this article, I address the point of criticizing a tweet. In summation, tweets have become little slivers of philosophy themselves, with people attempting to get across an entire point in a very short space. So I feel that what you write, even if just a sentence, is still open for discussion, which is what this article was. If someone is going to through out one-liners, they should be able to stand behind and explain them in full. I’m in no way suggesting Marianne couldn’t, but as I have not had that discussion with her, I’m going off what she put out via her social media feed. Simple as that.

      • Swami X says:


        I very much enjoyed your article and for the most part was in alignment with what your wrote. That doesn’t make your right or me brilliant. It just is what it is. I am currently writing a book whose main premise is the trappings and delusions of the New Age and your article fit into its premise.

        Concerning my use of “[sic]”, I would suggest you remind yourself of Agreement #2 of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruis [sic]: DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY. I was just having fun with you. I think that is another trapping of the New Age, to be so deadly serious about spirituality. If my amusement was at your expense, I apologize.

        You miss my point–entirely–when I hear you say, “The entire premise of this piece is based on Marianne’s tweet, so how could it not be relevant to what I wrote?” I perhaps wrongly assumed that the “point” of your article was to challenge people, especially those in th New Age, who seem to believe in philosophy over action, that words without action is like reading about bodybuilding instead of going to the gym and lifting the actual weights. Marianne’s tweet served in this point.

        If your point on the other hand was just to write about 29 words written by Marianne then I would say its scope is about as minute as discussing whether the election took place on Monday or Tuesday. I wasn’t against you–I was actually giving your credit for offering something deeper than merely commenting on Marianne’s 29 words that will be forgotten tomorrow.

        I mentioned how mythology has a lot to offer when looked at as a teaching tool instead of an historical account. We can argue about whether Jesus did what the New Testament says he did, or whether he even existed at all. If one is in the church of “If it says it in the Bible then it is true” then this distinction is very important for him or her. I am not and so it means little to me if Jesus walked on water or used a ferry boat or was made-up by a few creative minds. This is not to say I am any less inspired by his teachings than a True Believer. As I just read today and highlighted in the book Death Comes Dancing: Celebrating Life with Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh by Ma Satya Bharti:

        “The purpose of the words is only to help us to move inside ourselves. The master, whether it’s Bal Shem Tov or Krishna or Christ or Bhagwan, uses words as a technique to help us to move within, but then we cling to the words, we use them as an excuse not [italicized] to move within. We miss. For lifetimes we’ve gone missing.” (pp. 70-71)

        My words serve the same point, often to challenge you, even to piss you off, so you can move inside. They also serve to entertain…not only others but myself. I had fun. I’m done. If you didn’t have fun or are going to cling to my words to keep the discussion about 29 words then I am not only done, but bored.

        Swami X

    • Swami X says:

      “…Zeus was an historical figure or not at a tool [sic] dismissal for some of…” [TOTAL]

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