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Claiming our power, is it time for spiritual activism?
Whether we know it or not, we are all disciples of some belief system, some teaching, some paradigm of reality, some world view. We have long been disciples of the belief system that says that I am an individual, and I have “my” needs. No matter what we claim to believe, almost all of us have lived by this credo.
What are we ready to live by now? Are we ready to realize that we are not individuals and that our needs are collective? On April 20, SDNN ran a story by Jim Miller, a San Diego professor, who opposes the Tea Party and is marching for what he considers to be more valid moral choices. In his opinion, he says, “Our purpose: to transform a crumbling California to the prospering State it once was by investing in public services vital to maintaining our quality of life: our schools, parks, libraries, safety net services, infrastructure and more.”
Whether or not you believe in Jim Miller’s specific views, you can see that he is attempting to recruit people to a paradigm that posits the importance of the public good. In spiritual terms, that translates to thinking in terms of Oneness. We are one. We cannot be healthy in an unhealthy world. We cannot be happy in an unhappy world. We cannot feel satisfied and fulfilled by pursuing individual goals that ignore the reality of our connection to others.
This concept is very familiar. Isn’t that the point of just about every spiritual belief system that we have encountered? But is this concept mouthed or lived in the political and personal arenas?
If you see the pain that has been caused by ego-based thinking, it is no longer enough to espouse Oneness and practice divisiveness, selfishness and short-term goals. Businesses need to be aware of the needs of employees, as well as owners; customers, as well as stockholders. Parents need to stop meeting their emotional need for love by pandering to the demands of their children and start educating children to higher consciousness for the well being of the kids, as well as the family. Children need to start considering their impact on others in the families, instead of thinking of themselves as consumers. All of us need to start focusing more on our contribution to the whole than on scamming what we can get from society.
And we all need to be more aware of our footprint on the increasingly fragile ecology of our planet. Focusing on the needs of the whole, instead of obsessing about narrow self-interest: that is what we call seeking that which is for the highest good of all. It sounds threatening to the “me” view of the world, but it feels so much better. And ironically enough, in practice we have found that the quickest path to happiness is supporting everyone’s highest functioning and fulfillment, so together we can co-create a society of healthy individuals realizing their oneness in real synergy.
But how are we going to overcome the egoic perspective when it feels so natural and when it is the universal principle running most human behavior? How do we overcome the idea that we are alone and “can’t change” city hall? By abandoning the excuse that we can’t do it because “they” don’t. By realizing that each one of us can be the thirteenth disciple, the one who helps transform a ragtag band of spiritual madmen and madwomen into the vital force that will transform our world.
What is the alternative? When people in the United States lose money because of a volcano in Iceland, we have yet another palpable example that no one is any longer an island, that we are all interdependent, and that, on an even deeper level, we are one. Going back to Jim Miller’s concern with public education, for example, if your children do not get an education, who will be the teachers, doctors and service workers to my children and grandchildren? Who will take care of me when I lie in a hospital bed toward the end of my days? Who will develop the new technologies that not only make our nation economically competitive but a more humane place to live?
Jim Miller says that economic choices are moral choices. This is true. We all saw that massive economic boycotting contributed to the downfall of apartheid in South Africa, and every time we choose to spend a dollar on sustainability, we are feeding the future.
But we would go further. It’s not just economic choices; all choices are moral choices. What I chose to think, eat, say, do, wear and support impacts me and everyone else on this planet. I am either feeding fear, irresponsibility, divisiveness and unsustainability, or I’m feeding mutual support, healthy minds, bodies and spirits, a viable economy that supports human development and a culture of caring. The level of accountability is staggering. We are collectively helping shape our physical environment, our cultural environment and our emotional environment. And our children will either bless or curse us for it.
Let us pick up the banner of spiritual activism and become the thirteenth disciple to an approach and teaching that will truly revolutionize our human experience.
Photo by Boaworm - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10056072