The fall of communism in the Soviet Union provides a new opening for social transformation. It is an opportunity unparalleled in our lifetimes. But it depends on our ability to grasp a new notion of politics based upon ethical values and moral vision. It is time to shed the ideological straitjackets that have constrained political discourse for so long, to jettison the old polarities of Left and Right, liberal and conservative, that have ruled our hearts and numbed our conscience.
The failure of the hardliners' coup in Moscow has had an unintended result. The August Revolution of 1991 irrevocably overturned the October Revolution of 1917 and immediately opened up space for better alternatives to a world stuck in frozen systems of thought and the moral poverty of only two options. A new framework, new language, and new visions can now be drawn from a reassertion of basic personal and social values, many of which derive from our best religious traditions.
Central to any new politics will be a new spirituality -- indeed, a renewal of some of our oldest spirituality -- a moral sensitivity that refuses to separate political ideas from their consequences for human beings and for the rest of creation. Genuinely new political ideas depend upon that revival of the heart and renewal of the spirit. Political transformation simply cannot succeed without spiritual transformation; the two must now go hand in hand.