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Quotes by Rabbi Michael Lerner

  1. “Whoever you are—whether you are a postal worker, autoworker, lawyer, doctor, high-tech expert—there are multiple ways you can advance the cause of love, kindness, and generosity.”
  2. “The new world will be created by people who know better than to be realistic. Realism is crumbling all around us. We will learn what is possible by struggling for the world we desire.”
  3. “To believe in God in the way that we do, what it means is there’s a force in the universe that makes possible that which is to that which ought to be.”
  4. “Turns out that Americans, like everyone else on the planet, are willing to sacrifice material well-being to serve higher ethical goals, if they think that others are willing to do the same.”
  5. “In a dog-eat-dog world it makes sense to bite before bitten. But in a cooperative world gone awry, it makes sense to extend empathy and a hand of friendship, and seek healing.”
  6. “Chanukah is the holiday celebrating the triumph of hope over fear, light over darkness, the powerless over the powerful.”
  7. “The run-up to war doesn’t happen overnight. It’s made up of small steps to slowly build acceptance for the idea of military action.”
  8. “The environmental crisis is the no. 1 spiritual challenge facing the human race in the 21st century.  Spiritual Progressives should provide leadership in this struggle.”
  9. “Banning all guns is necessary but not sufficient in light of the increasing violence in our society. We need a fundamental transformation as well as banning guns.”
  10. “Growing up, I thought this an extravagant and foolish claim tied to an authoritarian, patriarchal, and judgmental god in whom I could not believe; but as an adult I encountered environmental science and learned that it was all true.”
  11. “I don’t fault Obama for not winning votes in Congress. What I fault him for is not using his bully pulpit to teach Americans why it is not OK for the rich to benefit at the expense of everyone else; why a single-payer plan is far better health care than what we have now; ; how badly life on earth is threatened by production geared toward the competitive marketplace rather than toward the need of planetary survival; why it is irrational to criminalize marijuana; why wars are not the way to achieve world peace.”
  12. “….my love for Israel has manifested in my vocal criticism of Israeli policies that defy the tradition of Jewish ethics and Torah commands—particularly, “Thou shalt love the stranger.”….
  13. “The prophets’ clear message (is) that those who do not care for the poor and the oppressed are defiling God’s name.”
  14. “Yet the inherent yearning of all people for a world based on love, kindness and generosity came to the fore and triumphed.”
  15. “A constitutional amendment to ban all guns, and to create special holding units for hunting rifles to be held in control of locally elected officials in every neighborhood who keep the rifles under lock and key except when given to hunters during a hunting season and to be returned immediately thereafter, with all necessary criminal controls and penatlies for those who do not return them in a timely manner and those who continue to hold on to their guns privately. No private ownership of guns of any sort.”
  16. “Every time right-wing forces in ascendency manage to grab hold of Congress or the presidency, liberal and progressive commentators, editorialists and blogs are filled with analyses blaming the outcome on the racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, or stupidity of “ordinary Americans.”
  17. “What is particularly striking is that the American people were able to rally to the values of what we in the Network of Spiritual Progressives call “The Caring Society — Caring for Each Other and Caring for the Earth” despite the fact that neither Obama nor the Democratic Party articulated these values clearly.”
  18. “Recognize that Chanukah is about understanding that when we connect with the transformative power of the universe, the Force of Healing and Transformation, YHVH, we become aware that the powerless can become powerful, that oppression of any sort is in contradiction to the fundamental nature of human beings as loving, kind, generous, free, creative, intelligent, attuned to beauty, caring for and needing each other beings created in the image of God.”
  19. “I have been driving this road for decades, and never seen anyone hitchhiking! I just had to pick you up!”
  20. “Reality is much more complex than any judgment of right and wrong encourages you to believe. When you really understand the ethical, spiritual, social, economic, and psychological forces that shape individuals, you will see that people’s choices are not based on a desire to hurt. Instead, they are in accord with what they know and what world views are available to them. Most are doing the best they can, given what information they’ve received and what problems they are facing.”
  21. “We need to build millions of little moments of caring on an individual level.Indeed, as talk of a politics of meaning becomes more widespread, many people will feel it easier to publicly acknowledge their own spiritual and ethical aspirations and will allow themselves to give more space to their highest vision in their personal interactions with others. A politics of meaning is as much about these millions of small acts as it is about any larger change. The two necessarily go hand in hand.”
  22. “Christmas and Chanukah share a spiritual message: that it is possible to bring light and hope in a world of darkness, oppression and despair.”
  23. “Instead of a bottom-line based on money and power, we need a new bottom-line that defines productivity and creativity as where corporations, governments, schools, public institutions, and social practices are judged as efficient, rational and productive not only to the extent they maximize money and power, but to the extent they maximize love and caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity, and our capacities to respond with awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation.”
  24. “It’s amazing when a majority of Americans can overcome the resentements generated by this kind of elitism and unite with these same lefties to vote for policies and politicians who are implicitly challenging the current distribution of wealth and power.”
  25. “Judaism is not the only religion to have corners of reactionary treatment of women, even though in the past it has also had some practices which advanced women’s rights far beyond what was available to women in other religions (for example around divorce).”


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