Matthew Carnicelli became a political activist in response to 9-11.
“As I watched American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 crash into the World Trade Center's twin towers, I was overcome by a sense of dread. I feared that the planet was in danger of being been overrun by yet another wave of collective insanity. I groped for a few days for something that I could to do that might make a meaningful difference; and after the initial shock and numbness had worn off, I began to write.”
A native New Yorker and experienced practitioner in the personal growth field, Matt quickly came to the conclusion that the President's way of thinking about the world was nearly as dangerous as the people he was trying to stop.
"The world changed for all of us on September 11th in ways that Bush clearly didn't understand. If God can still be said to exist, then He, She or It must be beyond all human understanding – even that of an American President.”
As Matt saw it, the war against al Qaeda was, above all, a war of ideas. It could only be won if the United States continued to maintain the intellectual high ground with regard to world opinion – and crippled the terrorists' ability to further recruit or fundraise. Thus, the post-9/11 era ushered in a time when critical thinking, sensible strategy, and a return to an old fashioned American skepticism about the ability of any one person or branch of government to know the right way, would be required to once again make the nation safe and secure.
Although still a political novice, he became an early supporter of John Kerry, and one of a small group of committed online activists who would continue to ferociously argue his case long after the pundits had left the Massachusetts Senator's candidacy for dead. He was later asked to become a formal volunteer for the online campaign and worked as a moderator on the campaign's blog through the November 2004 election.
Matt considers himself a contemporary Deist and representative of an emerging "secular and spiritual" movement in American politics. This is a segment of the American electorate that is redefining the definition of spiritual in America.
"The Founders and Framers were products of the Enlightenment. They were freethinkers in every sense of the word, committed to the search for truth wherever it might lead. They weren't perfect, and didn't always live up to their ideals. But as human beings go, they were pretty darn remarkable – especially for their time."
"I see myself as also being the product of an Enlightenment tradition – but a twenty-first century, cross-cultural and spiritually-informed Enlightenment tradition, rather than a purely Western intellectual one. The search for truth, even the truth of God, cannot possibly be limited to a single tradition or approach."
“Some people will find God while practicing an organized religion. Some encounter Him while practicing yoga or Qi Gong. Others will experience Her through the study of comparative religion. Still others will glimpse It through a synthesis of the discoveries of evolutionary biology and modern physics. And some will experience their connection to a living, breathing cosmos through a descent into the psyche and embrace of their wholeness and essential humanity.”
According to Matt, “pluralism isn't just an ideal in America, or around the world; it's already a reality. And people who have a problem with pluralism ultimately have a problem with everything the Founders and Framers set out to create.”
This era of conservative backlash has been a trying time for anyone who believes in the virtues of modernity, and the embrace of a sustainable, stable human future. But in the spirit of John Adams and Thomas Paine, Matt urges commitment rather than surrender or appeasement.
“It's time that men and women of conscience, faith, and spirit stopped playing defense, and began taking the fight to the enemies of human freedom and human potential, be they foreign or domestic, political or theological.”
Matt's principal role models for political leadership – Mohandas Gandhi, Winston Churchill, and John Adams – mirror his eclectic approach. Refusing to blindly accept anyone's ideology, Matt adheres to Gandhi's tenet that truth exists on all sides of every issue. Consequently, the ideal solution to a conflict will not so much reflect a compromise between the competing sides' positions as an entirely new synthesis that incorporates the fundamental principles that actually motivate each at a core level. He believes that the most efficient approach to moving forward as a nation, and as a species, will inevitably incorporate an appeal to the human center – those core experiences and values which men and women of good will readily acknowledge regardless of race, color, sexual orientation, or creed.
Matt was a founding member of the Democracy Cell Project (an IRS-approved 501C3 spinoff of the Kerry 2004 online campaign), for whom he wrote a Sunday morning column entitled The Tao of Politics, in which he explored the intersection of religion, spirituality, and politics. When not digging ever deeper into the cycles of history and the foundations of comparative religion, he is at work on his first two books, What God Tells Me - The Confession of a 21st Century American Deist and The Spiritual Template of America - A Self-Help Book for Our National Life.