I recently fielded the following question by email:
I remember reading that Paramahansaji said that there would be a revolution. My intuition tells me that these riots are what he was referring to. Does your intuition tell you the same? God bless.
You may indeed be correct. What I've been saying to friends here is that we should expect increasing levels of social unrest: perhaps triggered unexpectedly and suddenly by events that may, or may not, seem to justify the response. And why is that?
While I don't think there ever really was a homogenous thing called "an American" (white, Anglo-saxon, WASP society), we can certainly see by direct experience supported by statistics that our nation has steadily become more diverse in every way imaginable. After all, this is America's destiny as the melting pot of the world leading the way into future centuries wherein all races and nations commingle.
This diversity is messy because we lack a shared experience or shared values. Polarization and conflict seem to steadily increase. Just when, at last, our nation elected a president of color in 2008, that person (Barack Obama) was besieged by waves of disdain and hatred and his efforts to govern were largely thwarted by opposition, especially to him as a person.
In time, we may emerge a culture of unity in diversity and maybe even, to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi's wry reply ("What do you think of western civilization?" He replied, "I think it would be a good idea."), a new civilization but only after great upheavals that could require not just years but decades. The more intense the upheaval and shared suffering, the quicker we'll get through it.
But for now, the various "tribes" of color, religion, political persuasion, inclusive, exclusive, and ethnicity are squared off preparing for battle. Mobilizing haltingly but without leadership are the "blessed peacemakers." Confused as to whether to be angry, or, for some, even violent, yet in support of harmony and respect, we can see that social unrest is going to be messy. There doesn't appear to be an awareness of the importance of self-discipline in striving to first become the “inner change” that Gandhi required of his followers. I wonder if anyone in the anti-racist movement is studying the specific tactics of non-violent protest that were honed by Gandhi and King?
Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated that blacks in America, having suffered in the way that they have, are uniquely positioned for future leadership because suffering can be the basis for moral courage, compassion and wisdom. I pray that this be so for it seems true to me and Lord knows, this country needs what Coretta King once described as a leader with "moral authority" such as Dr. King possessed.
So, yes, I do feel we are on a track wherein the early stages of a revolution are being seen. While Yogananda's comments were in the context of a revolution by the people against the tyranny of their government, and while that certainly will be part of it, I also would like to believe, based on other statements of his and general expectations as well, that the real revolution will take place by a change (awakening) in consciousness (meaning sympathy, compassion, and "love thy neighbor as thy Self").
Generally speaking, political revolutions based only on conflict and desire for supremacy result in "the more things change, the more things stay the same." Let us hope that whatever revolution Yogananda may have intuited is more than this kind of revolution.
Let us, therefore, deepen our commitment to the path of Self-realization wherein our consciousness is purified and uplifted towards ego transcendence and the willingness to endure unearned hardship and persecution for the sake of the divine plan of spiritual awakening. Band with others of like-mind to stand up and be counted. Serve the oppressed as your circumstances and dharma suggest. Speak up for what is right, good, and God!
May the Light of Truth be your guide!