I don’t have much to say about the Democrats’ presidential debates in Detroit on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was just the hyperbole of the preceding Cleveland debate on steroids. Mercifully, this field of twenty should be considerably thinned before the next debate on September 12 as the qualifications for making the cut will be sharply raised.
Along with the serious candidates, the second and third tier of wannabes include some who probably realize they have little chance of winning the nomination. They may just be massaging their egos, mounting a soap box, building their résumés or getting attention for their next book or speaking engagement. Incidentally, when I say “serious candidates,” I don’t mean that the most preposterous things they say should be taken seriously. I’m speaking of those who have a realistic chance of winning the nomination and becoming president.
Among the unserious candidates is (or was) Marianne Williamson, the California flower child, peace activist, author of self-help books and spiritual advisor to Oprah Winfrey. In the previous debate she explained how, as president, she would harness the love activated by the human heart as a universal force with the power to make all things right in the world. She toned that down this time until the real Marianne reemerged in her theatrical closing statement.
Listening to her, it launched me on a trip down memory lane and a column I wrote years ago in The Denver Post about the “World Instant of Cooperation” on New Year’s Eve in 1986. In the lingo of that era, this was a “New Age happening.” (Cue “The Age of Aquarius” from the 1967 hippie, counterculture rock musical “Hair.”)
The Denver happening took place at McNichol’s Arena to be “cosmically linked” to 50 million other New Agers gathered at similar happenings around the world. Another 500 million were asked to participate in spirit if not in the flesh. This was all described in one of the sacred books of the New Age Movement, The Planetary Commission, by John Randolph Price. If a sufficient mass of people assembled to concentrate, all at the same time, on an image of global peace and harmony, it would create a critical mass of energy in the collective consciousness of humankind that would neutralize the massive negative energy field that afflicts us and is the source of all the world’s problems. This would eliminate war, crime, poverty, hunger and disease.
Price ─ who started out as an ad agency executive in Chicago and is still selling books and speaking at the age of 87 ─ then went on to say, “The fact that we can do this has already been proved in the laboratories. One of the major universities on the West Coast took the figure of 50 million people with a spiritual consciousness and through the use of computers and measurements of spiritual energy radiation, made this observation: If these men and women would meditate simultaneously and release their energies into the Earth’s magnetic field, the entire vibration of the planet would begin to change.”
Pretty persuasive. Who could argue with “scientists” at an unnamed “major West Coast university,” especially one that uses “computers!”
Price promised the New Age will usher in the Second Coming with a slightly different twist. New Agers will, themselves, each become Jesus Christ individualized through a new energy field that will seed human consciousness. On the darker side, if fewer than required turned out to create a critical mass, Price warned the planet will suffer a “massive cleansing” through which 2 billion of Earth’s unenlightened (non-New Age) inhabitants will be “removed.” He spared us the details of the removal process, but it couldn’t be good.
I’m not making this stuff up. Well, the happening didn’t quite happen as too few New Agers and others drank Price’s Kool-Aid. There were plenty of empty seats at McNichol’s Arena and I doubt 50 million showed up to meditate worldwide. (If they did, it would have been in the papers.) Nonetheless, there’s still no shortage of war, crime, poverty, hunger and disease in the world, and Armageddon hasn’t yet come.
Marianne Williamson isn’t the Second Coming of John Randolph Price by several degrees, but her own flavor of metaphysical flightiness apparently resonated with enough Americans to qualify her for two presidential debates. This is testimony to the old bromide that anyone can (at least aspire to) be president of the United States. Then again, her vision is a lot less dangerous than Bernie’s or Elizabeth Warren’s as POTUS.
Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for CompleteColorado.com.