Sadanand Mailliard: I think, Andie, didn’t you hear him speak?
Andrea Schmitt: Yeah, I saw you speak at the Civic Center.
Dennis Kucinich: I know, I remember that, it was really terrific. Santa Cruz is one of those areas that’s just wonderful to be in. There’s a chance that my wife and I are going to go out there again over the Memorial Day period. It’s a community where there’s a tremendous amount of social awareness, which of course is what brings you here. And I’m glad to see that, and I’m very grateful to work closely with Sam Farr, who is a great humanitarian, as well as a very capable member of Congress. Sam is one of those people who is really much loved here.
So why don’t we… I know you have questions that you want to ask, so why don’t we go forward with your questions, and just one more thing, just want to repeat: I’ve been to Santa Cruz and that whole area many times, and I have a close connection with people there, and I’ve had a lot of support from that area, and I’m grateful for it. So of course when I had the opportunity to meet with students from Mount Madonna, I jumped at the opportunity, and so thank you for being here. I look forward to your questions, let’s start.
Alyssa DeBenedetti: So my name is Alyssa, and we were wondering what experiences in your life have directed you towards a career in politics?
Dennis Kucinich: I grew up in the city of Cleveland, the oldest of seven, and my parents never owned a home. My dad was a truck driver; my mom raised the kids, that was her job. Because we never owned a home as the family kept expanding, we kept moving. There was a time when landlords would put ads in papers saying “two children only,” or “no children,” and so it was hard to find a place to live as the family kept moving, so by the time I was 17, we ended up living in about 21 different places, including a couple of cars. So we had an experience of constantly moving, living in different neighborhoods, coming into contact with many people who were in a somewhat similar situation economically, and that experience really made an indelible impression on me, it gave me a real desire to be of service to people…
…We’ll wait ‘till this rings and you can edit this… Okay.
And so as the oldest in the family, I had responsibilities to help around the house. It developed in me a sense of desire to nurture others.
…And we’ll wait again…
And as I began my time in school, I really found that I had a lot of – the most joy that I had came from helping others; from being involved with others and being of assistance in one way or another. Because really, public service is just that: its service to the public. It is service, and it’s a recognition that our lives do not belong only to ourselves. It’s a recognition that the world is interconnected, that we are all interdependent. So I think that instinct is in every one of us, it’s just that we may grow up in certain circumstances where we feel that instinct and we act on it in a way that causes us to come in to contact with other people and then through our altruism, our sense of service, we desire to act on that. So I just kind of grew in to it. And it’s fun to be in public service. Next question.
Casey Lightner: My name’s Casey. Before your career in politics, I have read that you had many other jobs, including hospital orderly, teacher, newspaper copy boy, et cetera. Did holding these jobs contribute to your awareness and capabilities as a congressman?
Dennis Kucinich: Oh, of course. Each person in this room is going to have an opportunity to do many different things. I was a stock boy in a grocery store; I carried golf clubs as a caddy at a golf course. I was a correspondent for my school to various newspapers, and then I – for a while, while I was saving money to go to college – I worked two 40-hour-a-week jobs back to back; one starting at 7:30 in the morning until 4:30 as an orderly and then a surgical technician at a hospital, and then I worked at a newspaper as a copy boy from 5:00 to 2:30 in the morning. I did that for a couple of years. I worked 80 hours a week. And I also found a way to get some college courses, sandwich those in the middle.
So I’ve had a wide range of work experience, but I also started in public life very early. I ran for city council in Cleveland just before my 21st birthday. Then, they didn’t have the 18 year old vote, if they had, I probably would have started even earlier. I got elected to city council at age 23, so I served in city council. I served as clerk of courts in Cleveland, which is a citywide elected office. I served as mayor of the city of Cleveland. I was a state senator, US congressman. All of these involved certain types of work experience. All the experience I had prior to going into public life certainly informed my involvement in public life. I also did sports writing part time at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, which I enjoyed very much. All of our experience pours into who we are, and no matter what we do in life, it informs the work that we do. And with me, it’s about constantly meeting people and being with people; that’s how I learn. Next question.
Prabha Sharan: Hi, I’m Prabha. How did running for the president of the United States change your outlook of the role of our government?
Dennis Kucinich: That’s a great question, because not many people do have that opportunity to run, and what I learned was this: not my outlook on the government – I have a view of what government can be and should be; it really should be there for all the people, it should be there not just as a brokerage for various interest groups, but to help create conditions which can elevate the society.
When I traveled the country, I saw something that I want to share with you. There is an underlying unity in America. You wouldn’t know that, being in Washington. In Washington, it’s Democrats against Republicans, Republicans against Democrats. One group set off against another. This whole town is a cauldron of conflict. But you know, across the country, while there certainly are differences that are happening every place in every community, what I saw in traveling America was an underlying unity in a desire for peace; in a desire for health care for all; for elevating educational opportunities for all; for housing; for retirement security. There’s much more unity in this country than one would understand being solely in Washington.
So it’s not that I learned so much about the government that I didn’t already know, but I learned about the American people in a way that suggests to me that our government really sells the people short; that there are ways in which the people are way ahead of where the government is. This government as an institution is going to have to make some changes in order to stay relevant to the people. There’s so many changes that are happening in so many ways. There’s a deeper discussion going on among young people for example, and all the different structures that are emerging on the web. All the different discussion groups, whether it’s YouTube, or the face website…
Alyssa DeBenedetti: Facebook.
Dennis Kucinich: Right, Facebook. There’s a deeper discussion going on. People are looking for a sense that they can connect with others. That’s a signal. The government is disconnected from that. SO I had a great… I had a deepened understanding that I sought. I’d come back from my campaign trips, I’d come back to Washington with a lot of hope, because I’d see how the people want to move. But then I’d get here, and you’d also see the resistance to change that’s built in here. And things are changing so quickly that governments and other institutions are going to have to move a lot faster, and it’s particularly true with what’s emerging from the younger generation, even when you look at political parties. People aren’t connecting the same way with political parties; they’re looking for structures that are responsive and relevant. Parties are going to have to work harder to keep pace with that. Next question.
John-Nuri Vissell: Hi, I’m John. I was wondering, how do you maintain your hope in the country when most of the policy of the elected administration seems to run contrary to what I understand are your values?
Dennis Kucinich: I would say that while it’s important to know what it is they’re doing and to understand what they do, the question in the way that I look at it isn’t so much as who they are – we may have an estimation of who they are, speaking of the administration – the question is who are we? Who are you? You? You? I mean, that’s the question we have to be asking in any situation. It’s not about the people with whom we disagree; it’s about looking within oneself and asking “what can I do to make this a better world?” No one’s stopping any of us from doing that. We disempower ourselves when we focus our attention on what someone in power authority is doing or not doing. That can be informative, that can help excite our passions, but the truth of the matter is the fundamental question is not them, whoever they are, it’s who am I. What do I stand for? What do I want to accomplish? How do I want to make a contribution to the world? These are the questions that every person ought to be asking.
It’s so easy to focus on a president that we disagree with: wrong discussion. The discussion should be focused on what do we envision? What do we want to create? How can we make this a better world? How can we use our talents and abilities to do that? And so when you do that, you’re creating your own hope, and you’re giving others hope as well, and you’re giving yourself a sense of your own potency and power to change the outcome, because every one of us can do that. The only reason we lose hope is when we fail to recognize how powerful we really are.
Andrea Schmitt: Hi, I’m Andrea. When you were running for the presidential nomination, you proposed a Department of Peace, and I was wondering how you envision the Department of Peace dealing with an armed and volatile nation?
Dennis Kucinich: First of all, when a nation becomes armed and volatile, it didn’t start out that way. There’s a track to conflict. The Department of Peace and Nonviolence would look at conflict at its inception and get involved at that point, not when the violence is out of control. And I would enlist all of you, each one of you, in helping to advance this idea; that we can create a world that is nonviolent; that war is not inevitable; that peace is inevitable if we are ready to use the power of our hearts and our intellect and our spirit to transform ourselves every moment of our lives.
Think of your relationships. Think of how each relationship we have, weather in the context of a personal relationship with a man or a woman, our relationships at home, those relationships are great tests and great gifts. We learn how to pursue peace. It’s easy to advocate peace in the world; try practicing peace in one’s own home – whole different deal. Really! You know, you’ve got a boyfriend or a girlfriend? Try practicing peace in that relationship. Try practicing mutuality: looking at the other person as an aspect of oneself; trust.
See, the Department of Peace looks at those kinds of interpersonal or even intrapersonal forces that cause us to gravitate towards violence, and steps back and says, “you know, we can work in ourselves, we can create for ourselves a new world,” and then the world that exists within ourselves is a microcosm, inevitably through all of the various interactions that take place, helps create the world as a macrocosm. What’s innermost becomes outermost. That’s how each one of us has a chance to create peace in the world.
Again, the question isn’t so much who they are, it’s who are we? What can we do to start to transform the world?
…What’s your time situation, because I have three votes – I mean, when is your next…?
Sadanand Mailliard: We’re actually clear after this; our next appointment got shifted to a different day. So we’re clear through the remainder of the day.
Doug Gordon: We don’t have the room.
Dennis Kucinich: We don’t have the room? How do you know?
Doug Gordon: We have it ‘till 12:30.
Dennis Kucinich: Okay, we’ll be done with the votes by then, I think. Why don’t we take a break, we’ll go vote, I’m going to ask Doug if you would remain here, and I’ll be in touch with you by phone. I’ll come back as soon as I can.
All: Thank you.
20 minutes go by.
Sadanand Mailliard: Thank you so much for coming back, we’re honored.
Dennis Kucinich: I consider this as important as anything I do, so that’s why I came back.
Daniel Nanas: Are we going to buzz again?
Dennis Kucinich: No.
And I consider you as important as anyone I meet with, so that’s why I came back.
All: Thank you.
Dennis Kucinich: So let’s continue with the questions.
Kendra Froshman: Hi, my name is Kendra Froshman. I was just listening to Leon Pinetta give a speech in Santa Cruz, and he spoke about how often both Republicans and Democrats are more interested in maintaining or getting power than in actual governance. Do you see this struggle for power as taking away or as a distraction from the important issues that are going on in the Congress right now?
Dennis Kucinich: I think before that question is answered, we need a deeper discussion about the nature of power itself.
Everyone has power. Power isn’t conferred with a certificate of election. If anyone comes to Washington seeking power, they don’t understand power. You don’t become powerful because you’re a member of Congress. There’s an illusion of power attached to that, and if you become attached to that illusion of power, then if you’re not a member of Congress, you don’t have any power. If you become attached to the illusion of power connected with a committee, if you’re not on that committee, you’re not powerful anymore.
But a deeper discussion of power demands an understanding of oneself, and one’s relationship to other people in the world, because when you come to an understanding of who you are and what your purpose is in life; your alignment with that purpose is power. When you let that purpose unfold, that in itself is an unfolding of energy – the energy of your life is power. So we all have power.
There’s an element which runs counter to power, and that’s force; the attempt to impose will over some else’s choice. Force needs to be distinguished from power. It’s almost as if the real debate is between will and love. Love lets people unfold to their highest purpose, will tells people “this is what you must do because I demand it.”
So every question that any one of us asks here requires that we try to go deeper, because so much of what happens in Washington is superficial and all of the coverage here is coverage on the surface; the conflicts between individuals; the striving for one office or another. A deeper discussion with a member of Congress would require not only asking where someone stands on an issue – that’s instructive – but where does that individual stand with himself or herself? We become so interested in issues; that’s an intellectual exercise which is often devoid of heart.
So when one talks about power, what do you mean? That’s kind of where I’d want to start that discussion. Next question.
Naomi Magid: Hi, I’m Naomi. I was wondering, is there anything that we learned in our situation in Iraq that we can apply to our situation in Iran?
Dennis Kucinich: Yes. There’s a quote from the Bible – it might be Isaiah – which says: “that which is crooked cannot be made straight.” Thousands of years later, a poet wrote: “oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”
Iraq was a crooked path, a tangled web of lies. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, with Al-Qaeda’s role in 9/11, with the anthrax attack on this country. Iraq had neither the intention nor the capability of attacking the United States; was not trying to get uranium from Nijar; did not have weapons of mass destruction. Our attack on Iraq was against international law; against the UN; in violation of the Geneva Convention; we have violated the Hague Convention in our occupation there; we have violated every code of moral conduct that a civilized world ought to expect from a great nation.
So what is the lesson? The lesson is that each one of us has to take responsibility for the choices our government makes in our name. You’re fortunate to have a representative in Sam Farr, who has really been a very powerful spokesperson on these issues. But I would say that young people around the country – across the country and around the world – need to become actively engaged in demanding that our government take a new direction away from untruth and towards truth; away from addiction to war, and towards a commitment to building a peaceful world.
The very same mentality which led us in to a war against Iraq is setting a stage for a war against Iran, and it’s a jumble of motives; an ideological commitment to American hegemony; a desire for control over that particular region; a desire for oil resources; a desire to pedal arms; a desire for political advantage; a desire to open new markets; you can pick a number, all these forces are playing in to one another. But it’s all standing on a lie.
In his play, “Enemy of the People,” which I would recommend for any of you to read, Henrik Ibsen has a character who challenges the pestiferous soil of his own community. In this case, a community that was profiting from luring people to come to it’s freshwater springs for health purposes – later on the community found out that the “town baths” as they were called were polluted; it’s what the debate is about in the play “Enemy of the People.” We need to challenge what’s not right about this country. And what happened in Iraq was not right; what we’re planning to do in Iran is not right.
You cannot force people into a religion or a political ideology that they don’t agree with. People grow on their own, at their own pace. Now, through the United Nations, we can – as a world community – find ways of supporting people who are oppressed. But people in Iran aren’t asking to be relieved of their oppression by having nuclear bombs dropped on them. Even the talk of using nuclear weapons against another nation is a violation of the UN charter. Even the talk! It’s a violation of the non-proliferation treaty; you can’t threaten another nation with nuclear weapons. I may have a disagreement with you, I can’t put a gun on the table and say “let’s talk,” you can’t deal with nations that way.
So we’re at an important moment here. It’s about who we are as a country. People need to become visible in stating their intention of the kind of world we want, because that world we want it an extension of our hearts. It’s an extension of our dreams. It’s a world we call forward and create from our intentions. And if we don’t want that kind of world, then we have to say the kind of world we want, and we have to act on that. And this is particularly important for young Americans, because you’re going to inherit a world that is quite troubled, based on decisions that come from assumptions and misperceptions of the way the world can be. There’s a lot of fear, and we need to make sure that we’re not mired in fear. Next question.
Sadanand Mailliard: Let Nina do her question.
Dennis Kucinich: Go ahead, Nina.
…Hold on a second, I just have to make sure this isn’t home…
Hello? …Hey, how are ya? …Um, let me… What time do you have to go over there by? …Okay… I’m in an interview, I’m going to take care of this in a half hour, okay? Is that okay? …When are you going to leave? …You’re going downtown, right? …Oh! Can you email it to him, and he could send you a PDF? …Yeah, why don’t you do that, because you can do it. …(INPUT CUT)
Nina Castañon: …This reconnection?
Dennis Kucinich: Wherever any of us go around the world, we know there are people who are endeavoring to live peacefully, who are endeavoring to support their families, who are endeavoring to have food and shelter and clothing and who are – in some cases trying to survive – but who are trying to do a little bit better than survive. If you come in to contact with people from around the world – and I would imagine in this room, there are people who come from countries around the world, or whose families do – you’ll find that the impulse around the world is not towards separation, it’s towards human unity. The United States at this time, everything as a nation officially, is against this idea of human unity. To be quite specific: the attack on Iraq; totally contrary to human unity, based on lies. Guantanamo; Abu-Ghraib; separates us from our humanity.
We need to participate in structures of international law, which means affirm the United Nations charter, abide by the rules of the United Nations. We should be participating in the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, not violating it and urging other nations to break it as well or not participate. We should be working for nuclear disarmament. In this way, we connect with the heart of the world. The heart of the world is seeking unity. It is seeking brotherhood and sisterhood. It is seeking reconciliation with those with whom they’ve become alienated. It’s not seeking further war and division, that’s not only a dangerous myth, but it doesn’t adequately reflect where humanity can go.
So as a nation, we reconnect with the heart of the world by participating in international structures, by affirming the tenets of the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Small Arms Treaty, the Land Mine Treaty, by joining the International Criminal Court, by not advancing this idea that we have some kind of a right to put weapons in space to rule the world. By having the resources in America be available to nations for their social and economic growth, not just for military acquisition. We can further progress around the world and join with the world in celebrating human dignity if we lead the way to put human rights in all of our trade agreements; workers rights in all of our trade agreements; environmental quality principles in all of our trade agreements.
There is a type of thinking which is prevalent in American governance right now, which has been the opposite of all that; it’s been divisive. It’s been setting America separate from the rest of the world. So we need to begin a process of reconciliation here at home as well. When the administration determined that it was going to go to war against Iraq shortly after 9/11 – knowing full well that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 – it led our country into a proverbial blind alley. And in that cul-de-sac we have stayed, unaware of the underlying issues in the world that gave rise to that abominable attack on 9/11.
We need in this country a period of truth and reconciliation, so we can go back to that point where we understand really what happened on 9/11, why it happened, and go from there to a new understanding of what we can be as a nation and to reconcile with each other, because instead of pursuing that grim opening which 9/11 presented where the heart of the world was open to the people of the United States, we immediately changed the dynamic by going on the offensive against a nation that did not attack us.
So that’s another thing we need to do: we need to heal our own nation. We haven’t done that. We need to “bind up our nation’s wounds,” in the words of Lincoln. We haven’t done that, and we need to, and then we also need to reconnect with the world and we need to pull back from this idea that somehow America has the obligation or the responsibility to tell other countries of the world what to do. We don’t have the right to do that. We cannot impose our will on other nations.
Edison Dudoit: Hi, my name is Eddie. When you were downstairs voting, we had a discussion with your assistant about the spiritual and philosophical essence behind your answers and explanations to our questions, and we’re all very curious where that sort of consciousness developed in you.
Dennis Kucinich: From literature; from the English romantic poets; from Roman Catholicism; from mysticism; from the writings of Gandhi; from an understanding of Hinduism and Buddhism – and as I mentioned earlier – Catholicism, of theism and atheism; from studying quantum physics; playing baseball, football; from being a father; from asking questions; from coming to an understanding that my life doesn’t belong to myself alone; from realizing that I am by reference anyone else. That we are multidimensional beings; that there is a physical element to who we are, there is an emotional element, intellectual, spiritual; that we exist simultaneously in so many different levels as beings; that our thoughts matter, our words matter, our actions matter, they need to be integrated.
And so it’s not the province of any one religion – although my thinking derives from many different religions – or of any particular type of political philosophy. There is a Hindu writer and statesman by the name of Sri Aurobindo; when I started to read his works, it kind of opened up my eyes about the connection between the material and the spiritual world. Now, my study of Roman Catholicism also reflected on that, and I saw it in a different light when I started to study Aurobindo. I see this constant interplay between the material and the spiritual world going on all the time. I believe that without spirit we’d just be empty shells, and spirit infuses us and helps us quicken and elevate the material world; helps it ascend. So I try to put that in to every moment. And you know what? It works. And it makes life interesting and fun. …That’s a partial answer.
Megan Mitchell: Hi, I’m Megan.
Dennis Kucinich: Hi Megan.
Megan Mitchell: Often it seems that people who are visionary are dismissed as impractical idealists or cranks. Do you ever feel that you get marginalized because you have taken the lead on identifying issues that the Congress is not yet ready to discuss?
Dennis Kucinich: Well, what anyone thinks of me is none of my business. I cannot give anyone the power to minimize my purpose, nor should any of us. Why would any of us give someone else the power to judge our dreams? Why? Why would we do that?
It’s always important as a representative for me to ask my constituents for their opinion, and I care deeply about what they think about the issues that I’m addressing on their behalf here in Washington. But I can’t give anyone the power to impose upon myself a measure of judgment that would take me away from the work that I’m hear to do. That’s important for everyone. Emerson in his essay on self-reliance wrote, “Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string.” He spoke of believing that what’s true for you, could be true for everyone. Now, he wasn’t talking about a kind of insular arrogance or egocentricity, what he was speaking to is that impulse within us that connects us to the world. He was speaking to that universality, that spark of universality that resides in all of us, which – through our conscious reflection – helps us understand that we are part of each other. And so when we say something, there are others who say the same thing.
In that same essay, he spoke of how people would remain silent while they hear these great discussions going on, and then someone else would say exactly what they were thinking. We’ve all had that experience. Emerson describes it in this way, he says, “our words sometimes come back to us with an alienated majesty.” And so we need to trust ourselves, and when you trust yourself you move forward without regard as to how anyone is assessing you at the moment. I mean obviously, in my district I’m very fortunate; I do have support of a lot of people. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be elected. But I haven’t won every election. In my career I’ve probably – counting primaries and generals – I’ve probably won 28 elections and maybe lost 6. But it’s not even about winning or losing, the question is: what do you stand for? We get so enamored of the outcome. Who we are is the outcome, not what someone thinks of us.
There’s a sense in which when we talk about having vision, we put it in the context of time. I find that if we are in touch with our timeless nature, if we can understand that time truly is an illusion, not simply in an existential way, but in a way in which we are universal beings, we are connected to everything and all. And when you stand for something, there are principles that are timeless. Human unity is a timeless principle. Interconnectiveness – timeless principle. Interdependence – a timeless principle. Peace – timeless. Love – timeless. Hope – timeless.
So when you look at the expanse of the universe and you try to draw forth from that universe the possibilities into this present time – whether it arrives, whether those hopes are realized in 2006, ‘08, ‘12, ’16, ’20, on and on – is not the point! It’s that you connect your aspirations with a dream and move towards it. And that’s what counts. It is the journey, not the destination. We don’t always know where things will lead, but we have the right to make the choice to take the trip. And so I choose to take a journey of hope, and that in itself is its own reward. Where it leads, I can’t tell you.
Sadanand Mailliard: I just want to interject a question: this seems to me to answer a question about your run for the presidency as well, because that was a journey that at some level people would say “well there’s no hope.” And yet what you’re saying here is probably the value of you talking to America about these ideas as spreading seeds that may sprout one day.
Dennis Kucinich: You know what I found out? I found out that message that I was giving had enormous response from young Americans. So if I’m speaking a little bit to the future, that’s okay. Because that moment will arrive, and whether I’m holding up that torch at the moment is irrelevant. Somebody will take those principles and advance them, and then somebody will follow in like manner. So it’s really about all of us. It really is about all of us.
Sadanand Mailliard: I hope you’ll run again.
Dennis Kucinich: Well, you know, I leave open all possibilities, and at the same time, I see something different happening in this country. I see there being a slow ferment and a kind of a percolation even of energies that are occurring, starting really with the younger Americans. We’re starting to look at the world a little bit differently, and it’s going to have a real impact. It’s going to have an impact on political parties, on the system of government, on what America does in the world…
Why did I come back here? Because I see you as being part of that new potential for America in the world. That’s why I came back here. I mean, I really believe this. I know this; I know it from where I’ve been. And you just happen to be from a place where there is a nurturing of that impulse, but it’s up to you to take it to another step, and I would urge you to do that. I’ve got a website at kucinich.us, which I would invite any of you to go to; I have an email, [email protected], which if you’ve got any ideas, glad to hear from you.
What I’m looking to do isn’t just – this is beyond who wins elections. It’s really about seeing what we do to create a new society! I mean elections come and go, what are we left with? Do we have a society which is more peaceful? Do we have a society which really cares about the education and the health of the individual? Do we have a society which has a view of what we can do to tap the collective energies of our people? What about what are we doing to protect the climate of the globe itself, lest we forget? You’re blessed in the Santa Cruz area with this great natural beauty. And having traveled the country, it was interesting that so much of my support tended to come from some of the most beautiful places in America. Why? Because principles of beauty help inform our eye, which informs our inner vision about the archetype of beauty that the whole world can share in.
Keats once wrote that “a thing of beauty is a joy forever.” We have the opportunity of creating a more joyful world by reaching for the beauty that’s in the world and the beauty that’s inside of each one of us. And so you have a chance of connecting with that and sharing it with the world and it’s really in a sense an obligation. So I invite you to participate. This idea for a Department of Peace is really about creating a culture of peace and a structure to help facilitate the culture. So I invite you. I’ll be out in your area again. There are things that we can do, things you can do now, like start connecting with people across the country and around the world.
My wife and I were talking about this the other day, in looking at some of these websites I talked about earlier, where people are actually creating their alter egos and act through the web community through these alter egos, and Elizabeth was telling me, what if we worked with others to create a site called “The Perfect World,” where we actually some modeling of how we would act if the world were truly perfect? And then if you could get enough people involved in that, that community would then create the model for how we would create the world in this dimension; tapping our multidimensional natures. There’s so many different possibilities, it’s very exciting actually, and you can help create so many different possibilities. That’s what you ought to be thinking about. Any other questions?
Jonji Barber: I’m Jonji.
Dennis Kucinich: Yeah, go ahead.
Jonji Barber: Earlier, you talked about the importance of a journey rather than the destination. Political philosopher Joseph Needleman also said that “questions are more important than the answer.” He went on to say that “all the mischief in the world comes from people with answers rather than questions.” It seems to me that the U.S. is portraying itself as somebody who has the answers and that’s where the mischief is coming from. What questions should the U.S. be asking, and rather what questions should we be asking as the youth of the U.S.?
Dennis Kucinich: I think it was Joseph Campbell in some of his writing about mythology, writes about how sometimes kingdoms are saved by the protagonist asking the right question. First question: who are we? Next question: what are we here for? You can take it from there. These are questions with answers. What does it mean to be a nation? Is war inevitable? Are we innately aggressive and those impulses can’t be changed?
Sadanand Mailliard: Even the work of Peter Block, who lives in Cincinnati…
Dennis Kucinich: I’ve heard of him.
Sadanand Mailliard: He’s working on that. He has a piece that he’s doing now called “Civic Engagement and the Restoration of the Community,” and it’s based around conversations and questions, the invitation of responsibility and so on.
Dennis Kucinich: There is an evolutionary process that we participate in. If you look at… If any of you have studied evolutionary biology, you’ll know that there is an often slow and steady upward spiral in the growth of a species, but there’s also a point in evolutionary biology called “punctuated equilibrium,” where there is a break in the evolutionary process and a sudden upward spiral in the transformation of a species. We need to start thinking about our own ability through self-awareness to transform ourselves, to be more than we are and better than we are as a species, to catch that impulse of a quickened evolutionary growth. We cannot even imagine who we could be! We cannot even imagine the type of beings we can become, once we get attuned to an alignment with a higher vibration, which is really love in its fullest expression. It’s about realigning with that, just suddenly become far beyond anything you ever thought you could be. And the operative word is “be,” as opposed to just having.
Years ago, a writer by name of Erich – who I think may have come from Santa Cruz – wrote a book called “To Have or To Be,” exploring the dichotomy of an advancing materialistic addiction overwhelming people’s sense of ethicacy (sic) and actualization. He also, in a book called “The Art of Loving,” talked about how love is this transformative force in our lives and in society. He wrote a later book called “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness,” which talks about how the impulse to love is also constantly in a conflict with destructive impulses.
I mean in the Hindu religion, you have Vishnu – the god of creation – and Shiva, destruction, existing simultaneously. The beauty of this and of being aware that these forces are always at play is to ask, “Okay, what are we signing up for here? Are we letting these destructive impulses play through us, because they can… or are we letting the force of creation move through us, because that can happen too.” Those things are always happening. In a way, that’s what goes on at a cellular level in our own bodies. So when we speak of aligning ourselves with an evolutionary impulse, we have to have an understanding of our own ability to self-actualize our progression as a species. That’s what we have to be able to do, and when we understand that, there’s no telling what we can become. The only limitations we have are those that we impose on ourselves; are those where we chain ourselves in a prison of our own lack of awareness. That’s our own limitations – otherwise, we don’t have any limitations. None.
I want to thank you for this chance to spend some time with you. If somebody in this group could send me an email at [email protected], I will let you know when I’m coming out to the area to speak, and I’d be glad to meet with some more students. You as a group, just as a group in talking about some of these things that we’ve discussed today, can’t even imagine what you could create, just as a group from a school in Santa Cruz, in Watsonville. There’s no limits, so don’t limit yourself. And don’t let anyone else limit you. Thank you.
All: Thank you.