Oftentimes law, spirituality, and politics are considered to separate realms that shouldn’t mix. Law is the secular religion, politics has no room for grace, and any combination of the three is usually only for cynical reasons. But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if law, spirituality, and politics could work together to help people create a more just and peaceful world?
The current status quo approach to law and social change does not view humankind in a positive way. Those who want to create a new spiritually informed approach to law and social change believe that people at their core want to live in a world where the humanity of each person is recognized. A society of laws can both foster and be guided by empathy, compassion, and mutual understanding. Justice can be about more than getting even. It can be about healing the fractured relationships that lie at the heart of so much conflict.
There are a number of groups working to create a better world. One of these organizations is the Project for Integrating Spirituality, Law, and Politics (PISLAP, pronounced pie-slap). PISLAP is a nationwide network of lawyers, law professors, law students, legal workers, and others who are seeking to develop a new spiritually-informed approach to law and social change. Officially founded in 2001 and led by Peter Gabel and Nanette Schorr, PISLAP’s work has focused on three broad areas of change: transforming legal education, transforming the lawyer-client relationship, and transforming the practice of law itself. Judges, practioners, professors, law students, activists, and spiritual leaders work together to develop and strengthen the legal profession as a helping profession rather than one that is purely adversarial.
Another organization is The Network of Spiritual Progressives, which was founded in 2005-2006 by Rabbi Michael Lerner, Sister Joan Chittister, and Professor Cornel West. NSP is focused on bringing spirituality, empathy, and love into politics in order to change or create laws that reflect a society that values love and justice. The mission of NSP is to build a social change movement that is guided by and infused with spiritual and ethical values to transform our society to one that prioritizes and promotes the well-being of the people and the planet, as well as love, justice, peace, and compassion over money, power and profit.
Spirituality, at the most basic level, is about concern for the human spirit as opposed to material or physical things. Politics is about relationships and governance. Law is about rules and structure. The broader project of bringing concern for the human spirit law and politics is all about creating a society that’s not as focused on material and physical things. We’re only here for a limited amount of time, so why not use the tools we have to make that time beautiful for as many people as we can?