Marianne Williamson: A Revolution of Love | Opinion

The times ahead will bring a revolution of love and justice, or a revolution of violence and pain.

Life doesn't always give us what we want, but it does have a way of giving us what we need.

Americans didn't get what any of us would have wanted this year, but in many ways we got what we needed.

We got to see how dangerously inept our government is when it's led by people who see no need for the power of government to serve its people.

We got to see how fragile our democracy can be, and how every generation must do what we can to protect it.

We got to see how much we miss each other when isolated for too long, that we're hard wired for community and we suffer when denied the possibilities of normal everyday interactions.

We got to see what happens when a health care system is overloaded and left unsupported by the federal government in times of emergency.

We got to see the devastation of hunger, fear and rent insecurity that besets the tens of millions of people overwhelmed by economic hardship.

We got to see how little our government seems to care.

America has had to look in the mirror this year, and we saw some ugly things we hadn't wanted to look at. We saw police brutality and systemic racism. We saw the human realities of income inequality, as tens of millions of people now experience its consequences in despair writ large. We saw the ascendance of neo-Nazi groups and the social contagion of conspiracy theories. We saw how close we have come—if we're not already there—to what is essentially a cold civil war.

Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty stands in a morning fog in New York City on October 21, 2020 as seen from Jersey City, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn/Getty

None of those things are pretty and none of them feel good. But these are not feel-good times. They are serious and sobering times—the kind, in the words of Thomas Paine, "that try men's souls." Together we will decide whether we triumph over, or succumb to, the dangers that confront us now. We will devolve or we will evolve; those are our only two options.

Yes, we can learn from what we've been through and grow from the challenges before us. One thing that's certain, however, is that America will not remain the same.

We will not be going back to pre-Trump days, however much some might cling to the nostalgic view that we can. The conditions described above are too destabilizing to sustain any further pretense that we're okay. We were not okay, and we are not okay. Many of the problems we face were just lying in wait for us, their seeds underground and their harbingers unnoticed. We will no longer be spared the consequences of our refusal to address them.

No, the political earthquake is upon us and these are indisputably revolutionary times. We will learn some lessons now, and the only choice before us is whether we will learn them through wisdom or through suffering. The times ahead will either bring a revolution of love and justice or a revolution of violence and pain. The issue is no longer whether the revolution will be televised, but only whether it comes to your neighborhood.

In the words of John F. Kennedy, "those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable." The greatest danger that lies ahead is not that a revolution might happen, but that a revolution of love might not happen. For if we don't bring on the love in a way unseen in modern times, then we will be shown horrors unseen in modern times.

President-elect Joe Biden has the opportunity to be the FDR of our time, powerfully responding to the mass suffering in his midst, and it would benefit all of us for him to do that. But he must be okay with opposition. Where Obama tried to work with the other side, FDR declared "I welcome their hatred." Of course an entrenched corporatist status quo is resistant to actual power share with the people of the United States, but people are no longer willing to sit around and wait for crumbs from the Mt. Olympus of oligarchic power. Biden can and should use the power of the presidency to deliver a massive infusion of economic hope and opportunity into the life of the average American. If he does not, we should expect to see some massive signals of people's unhappiness in 2022.

Incremental change is not a revolution of love, and we should not be afraid of fundamental change; if anything, we should be afraid of a lack of it. Radical, you say? I'll tell you what's radical. Hunger is radical. Poverty is radical. Homelessness is radical. Radically unfair, and unjust, and unacceptable in the richest nation in the world. If anything, the radicalism of love is exactly what is called for.

Medicare for All, the cancellation of student loan debt and free tuition at state colleges and universities are deemed "far left" only by those who resist the power share they represent. Yes, those forces have had PR success in convincing people that such policies are "socialist" and dangerous. But in any other advanced democracy—societies doing much better than ours at the moment, by the way—they're considered middle of the road. And well they should be. It is not an accident—only a political inconvenience to some—that a majority of Americans now support those policies. They are natural prescriptions of a government that is "of the people, by the people and for the people."

President-elect Biden will decide how revolutionary he is willing to be on behalf of the principles of equality, opportunity and justice that are our American ideals. Those ideals are in tatters now, and they must be repaired. While no one thinks of Biden as a revolutionary personality, these are nevertheless revolutionary times. And that might make him a perfect captain for the era in which we live: A calm, firm, steady hand on a very big ship that's headed for a hurricane and now must, simply must, turn around. The turbulence that awaits us, should we not turn, could do great damage to the ship and endanger its inhabitants.

If 2020 has shown us anything, it's that.

Marianne Williamson is a Newsweek columnist, best-selling author, political activist and spiritual thought leader. She is founder of Project Angel Food and co-founder of the Peace Alliance, and was the first candidate in the 2020 presidential primary to make reparations a pillar of her campaign. She is the author of 13 books, among them Healing the Soul of America and A Politics of Love.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.