Gandhi said, “Those who say spirituality has nothing to do with politics do not know what spirituality really means.”
In our times of transition from one epoch to another, many of us are feeling dismay as we see the rise of hatred and cruelty, whether globally, or as displayed in our communities, online or even within our closest relationships. We witness a rising tide of meanness, insults, callousness, vulgarity and divisiveness. An inability to see or hear others’ perspectives, or to respect them.
We see, too, the dehumanization of others, the smearing of entire cultures and races, and the desire for revenge.
We can feel the effects of this hostility within our bodies and psyches, and we struggle with how to meet these in a way that does not contribute to it.
Historically, we know that to retaliate with further hatred and cruelty only contributes more to humanity’s burden, but we also know that great teachers and leaders have never just stood by, looking on or pretending challenges weren’t there.
Gandhi stood up to the British Government. Martin Luther King to a racist America. The Buddha intervened to try to stop wars. Thich Nhat Hanh campaigned against the Vietnam War. Jesus Christ overturned the money-changers tables. Nelson Mandela stood up to apartheid in South Africa. Thai abbots have campaigned to protect ecosystems from logging. Burmese monks and nuns marched to protect citizens from harsh military dictatorship.
The personal is political, and vice-versa, and no right to speech, freedom, vote, education, clean air, oceans or lands etc has ever come about except through the efforts of others to stand up in the face of opposition, and be triggered by that opposition into seeking and creating new solutions and outcomes.
Remembering that ‘what we don’t value, gets trashed’, we have to ask ourselves what kind of world we want, as Gandhi, MLK, Mandela, etc did, coming to the same conclusions that to add more fuel to the fires of hatred only makes the hatred burn more so, but to do nothing means that nothing happens and, in fact, that the screws tighten and the wrecking ball of change swings more mightily.
And these ones knew / know, in order to be effective and truly visionary, one must not only be awake to the external trashing and abuse, but also be responsible to, and to transmute divisiveness, hatred and anger within. Simultaneously, we can then come to a place wherein we can channel these to see the humanity in all sides, and take a stand. Not by running from what is, but by fully encountering life as it is, in its abominable cruelties and its sublime beauties and aching kindnesses….and taking a stand.
We thus find the way to bring vision, plans and paths in the service of solutions that correspond to life and greater wellbeing. We bring awareness and take corresponding action from there.
And truth be told, the challenge is great to not sink into escapism, magical thinking, hopelessness, cynicism, nihilism or to use the same cruelties and desire for vengeance as weapons. We know from all those that have gone before us that we can’t bring our best selves and efforts if we allow ourselves to lead with cruelty or blindness, or if we run.
All this will depend, though, upon the kind of world we want: a world with or without lying, corrupt leadership? A world with or without the Great Barrier Reef? One with or without a worldview that speaks to the sacredness of the planet, human beings and all of Earth’s species?
And it depends upon knowing that although we are connected to the Intelligence of Everything that is speaking to us always, we must also understand that there is no one coming but us. We have to grow up.
That is, intuitions, prayers, angels and thoughts may inspire new political systems, literature, roads, art, educational systems, etc, but they don’t create and build them: we do.
We must ask ourselves about our contribution to the whole in terms of the quality of our thoughts and actions, clear that these do have effects to uplift or to destroy those around us, as well as ourselves.
Then, let us pick two things that keep us awake at night and throw our whole passion into them so we don’t leave the responsibility of a ‘better, more peaceful, harmonious world’ to others, to younger generations…or to those advocating violence, dehumanization and hatred as the mistaken pathways to ‘peace’.
What keeps you awake? What disturbs you? What can you take on that would help ease your and others’ burdens and contribute to bringing greater care, love, dignity and humanity to us all?
Pick two things and get to it.