Vision Statement of the Religion and Socialism Commission of the Democratic Socialists of America

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Once again an ancient vision is stirring among the people of the earth: the vision that is in the name of all we call divine, from all the divine can teach us, we can learn how to live with each other in peace, share with each other in justice and grow with each other in wholeness.

The vision stems from our different religious traditions, but together we can give it a modern name: Religious Democratic Socialism. We know that all three of those words have been misused by some who would freeze them into death, turning them into idols.

In the name of religion dissenters have been burned at the stake, in the name of democracy peasants have been napalmed, in the name of socialism workers have been shot. Yet the vision embodied in those words is no pale and deadening idol, but a vision taught by the source of all life, and we believe that all three words point toward the same vision.

That vision is not often shared by those who possess state and corporate power whatever the labels they attach to themselves. The power to shape the future of the human race, or to bring it to an end, is now in the hands of a few people.

The few who have the power to decide how many children are born with genetic defects from environmental poisons, how many dissenters are killed or sent to prison, how many people live out their lives in poverty and despair. And at every moment it is they who decide whether or not to flood the earth with nuclear fire.

Institutions of power have great strength. Too often the systems humanity lives and works under are systems not of life, but of death. It is through the just distribution of power that democratic socialism claims to choose life. And only together in the spirit, in communities and movements-religious, social, political and economic-can we as religious democratic socialists, hope to choose life in its fullness.

The vision we share teaches us:

  • That power should be used not to maintain power and privilege, but to promote individual and communal growth and development, to teach and to heal, and not to do harm.
  • That individually and collectively we must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, heal the sick, teach the young and care for the helpless.
  • That spiritual renewal must come to whole societies as well as to individuals and families, that only in community can we find wholeness.
  • That all our actions must be rooted in respect for truth and justice.
  • That the three curses-the subjugation of men to exhausting toil, the subjugation of women to men, and the subjugation of the earth to human arrogance-are not our inevitable lot, but aspects of brokenness for which we seek wholeness, and can win it.
  • That nations must beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more.

Our communities and movements must feel and think and act in order to understand and change the world. We must respond with love and empathy to other's feelings of despair. We must analyze the institutions of death and the path toward life. And we must act to make change happen.

We begin in our own churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, circles to apply the lessons of our traditions to build a religious democratic socialism that can become real. As we learn from these efforts we must move in larger ways, through organized political, social and trade union action, toward creating a world where all of us share in making the great decisions: how to invest the wealth of the world, how to protect the earth and air and water, how to make peace among the peoples, how to guarantee decent jobs at decent pay, how to enable workers to won and control their own places of work, how to create a context in which human beings can feel the wholeness of their own selves and the wholeness of this world which we perceive as holy.

We welcome all who are committed to life, to the life that is destroyed by pollution, starvation, racism, war, nuclear holocaust, to join with us in implementing the essence of all our visions: choose life.

Adopted by action of the Executive Committee of the Religion and Socialism Commission
of the Democratic Socialists of America, January 1990

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© 2009 DSA Religion & Socialism Commission