Seeing, Doing

January 30, 2010

What you will be is what you do. ~Buddha

Mindfulness must be engaged. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. Otherwise, what is the use of seeing? ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Today I will do yoga, engage with my husband and my life, enjoy the icy wonderland outside my window, rest, read, and write. I have resolved (again) to be more mindfully present for the unfolding of my days, to practice healthy eating and exercise, to remember that creative efforts sustain and feed me.

When I stop long enough to see clearly, I know what is right for me to do. Avoidance behaviors, comforting time-killers (for me, playing computer games, eating sweets, and other non-nutritive activities) are the way we keep from seeing clearly. After all, if we can hide what is needed from our conscious mind, we feel free from responsibility. I think this is true in both personal and social action. How can I change the world if my own house is not in order?

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From the Archives: September

August 31, 2008

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.  ~William Wordsworth

September begins tomorrow. Now that this blog is a year old (and then some), I have decided to honor the first day of each month (or in this case, the day before the first day of the month) by bringing back a few posts from the previous year. Here are some from last September.

Expanding Time
Time expands when we are present in the moment.

Economic Equality
With our presidential election looming, consider the concept of raising all boats.

Letting Go
I’m convinced this is one of the keys to happiness.

Discourse
How can we heal our fractured society by coming together?

Happy Labor Day Holiday, everyone!


Activism

December 21, 2007

I don’t try to change the world–not ever. It changes by itself, and I’m a part of that change. I’m absolutely, totally a lover of what is. When people ask me for help, I say yes. We inquire, and they begin to end their suffering, and in that they begin to end the suffering of the world.

Violence teaches only violence. Stress teaches stress. If you clean up your mental environment, we’ll clean up our physical one much more quickly…And if you do that genuinely, without violence in your heart, without anger, without pointing at corporations as the enemy, then people begin to notice. We begin to listen and notice that change through peace is possible. It has to begin with one person. If you’re not the one, who is?  ~Stephen Mitchell

For years I’ve had an ambivalence about social activism because I’ve seen so much of it further polarize people. Who am I to know what is best for the planet? Righteousness is no good; if we are to make a difference in the world, we must speak authentically, lovingly from the heart. Accusations and anger simply raise defenses. The world is perfect as it is, according to Mitchell (and his wife Byron Katie), but that’s no excuse for withdrawal or separation.

May I clear my mind, understand that the world is perfect just as it is, but stay connected with my heart to those who are suffering. May I question for the love of truth, not in order to save the world. And may I speak always, even to power, with honesty and kindness and without fear or anger.


Economic Equality

September 22, 2007

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.  ~Anatole France

Research shows that for 30 years after World War II, Americans grew more prosperous and less unequal.  However, in the last 30 years, we have had the opposite trend–and the statistics are staggering.  Middle-class incomes barely rose (with much of that rise due to the increasing numbers of women in the workforce), while households in the top quintile gained 84 percent, and those in the top 1 percent gained 450 percent.  From 2000 to 2005, 3.6% of national income (about $270 billion) was transferred from the bottom 90% to the top 1%.  (Source: Ross Eisenbrey, Economic Policy Institute, http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/webfeatures_viewpoints_much_work)

Why is this important?  Because we will never have peace without shared prosperity.  Because working for economic equality is the right thing to do.  Because  greed is out of hand, and capitalism has become our national religion.  I can feed the hungry and clothe the poor, but how can I help change the systems that perpetuate economic injustice and misery?

Take a look at the overview of EPI’s Agenda for Shared Prosperity, http://www.sharedprosperity.org/shared_prosperity_overview.pdf.

I find myself increasingly desirous of working in some way toward a better (fairer, safer, more democratic) world, but I want to concentrate my efforts where it will do the most good.  I don’t think fringe activism is the answer, but perhaps aligning with more powerful coalitions could be.

What can we do, those of us who are not really inclined to engage in political or social activism, but believe strongly that things must change for the good of all?