Who We Need to Be

Originally published at http://ecoanthropologist.blogspot.com/ on November 15, 2016.

How do we create change?

I think it is evident, given our 2016 presidential election; people are hungry for change and are willing to pursue any means possible to shake our current power systems to the very core. Yes we need change; but, I am concerned because if the changes are too drastic and create too much instability and chaos within the system, the result could be catastrophic collapse—and that isn’t good for anyone, people or planet. I would rather not see the world burn. I don’t want to see more water polluted, more people harmed, more forests clear-cut, and more oil spilled. Yes, I am angry and, yes, I am ready to fight; but, not in the way you may think. I will not scream violent rhetoric or even act aggressively against the powers that be. Our actions need to be surgical and precise; finding points of leverage which will facilitate change throughout the system. In this way we can resist and we will quietly gain ground and then we will thrive.

We have made some progress and gained new rights, but the grasp on this progress and on these rights is tenuous at best. It should be clear just how easily we could lose all of this hard-won ground.

For all of our efforts, the forests are still being clear-cut, greenhouse gasses are still accumulating at an alarming rate, and so many species are going extinct. The wealth gap is ever increasing and people are still going hungry and droughts are a wreaking havoc. People are in danger because of their race, religion, and/or sexual orientation. All of our efforts just haven’t been enough and rather than create change, we are instead banging up against profound apathy; burning out in the process. Our protests, actions, and alarm calls have gotten the ball rolling, but they have only worked on the surface. We have not created true, systemic change. Too many people still believe we don’t have to fundamentally change the way we live and relate to the world, that we can still have our proverbial cake and eat it too… It’s time for us to go deeper with our actions if we want to create real and lasting change.

The change we need must begin beneath the surface and out of reach of the dominant system in ways it won’t recognize as a threat. On the surface it can look like nothing is happening. People will conclude that our prayers and meditations ‘do nothing’ and they won’t stop us. Look at those silly people doing those silly things! Meanwhile, under their noses, the most profound work is happening. This is what is meant by the crazy wisdom of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. On the surface our actions seem crazy, but below the surface there is deep wisdom, an alchemy transforming one system into another and changing one world into something completely new.

Now I know there isn’t any more time to mess around. Now, more than ever, I will have to walk my talk. Against racism? Then I’d better be and act against racism. Want to protect mother earth? Then I had better be for the earth and act to protect mother earth. For every person and cause we must fight to protect, I must back it up with my action. No more just thinking positive thoughts; but also saying positive words and doing positive actions. I think more than ever we need to find new ways to be the change we want to see in the world. If I transform myself (if you transform yourself), then I transform the world (you transform the world). Where does the courage to resist come from? All change begins inside of us. We can slam our heads against the wall trying to force outer change or we can transform ourselves. We are part of this system—if we change, so does the entire system, deeply.

According to The World Café, revolutions begin with conversations. Let’s start some conversations and figure out together everyday solutions and ways to support each other. Recognize that what you do in yoga class on the mat and the meditations you do on your cushion (or other practices) can reverberate throughout your life and out into the world. If we want peace in the world we must demonstrate peace within. If I want to see the world I want created, I need to represent that world. I need to be that world. Can we find concrete ways to demonstrate our relationship with and love for the earth? Can we begin meditating in public spaces as a form of demonstration of the world we wish to create? Can we create art in poems and prose to change hearts and minds? Can we examine our everyday lives and find spaces where we can create the world we wish to see? Can we be the world we wish to create? One thing is certain; we will need a shared vision for inspiration.

Let’s get the conversations started… I’ll meet you for coffee or tea.

References:

Briskin, Alan et. al. (2009). The Power of Collective Wisdom and the Trap of Collective Folly. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Brown, Juanita and David Isaacs. (2005). The World Café: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Macy, Joanna and Chris Johnstone. (2012). Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re In Without Going Crazy. Novato, California: New World Library.

Macy, Joanna and Molly Brown. (2014). Coming Back to Life. New Society Publishers.

Senge, Peter et. al. (2010). The Necessary Revolution: Working Together to Create a Sustainable World. New York: Broadway Books.

Trungpa, Chogyam. (1991). Crazy Wisdom. Boston: Shambhala.

Wheatley, Margaret J. (2002). Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

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