It is complicated to maintain peace within while being overly active outside. The more I am active outside, the more I need to take time out to restore the balance within. If activism is peaceful and within fields of humanitarian help, charity or education, it is easier to remain calm. Some time ago I already wrote a blog post on that. More agitating is working actively against injustice and stepping into conflict situations in order to lessen someones suffering.
Expanding city and expanding greed
Lately I have become a passionate advocate for a green island that is a place for allotment gardens with over a century old history. As the greed, expansion and economy of the city grows, it is planned to introduce traffic, roads, bridges and skyscrapers there. It is the fate of many allotment gardens not only in this country, also elsewhere. I could regain my calm if only I let the whole idea that something like gardens need to exist in the center of the city, but I feel like we need some fresh air and peace that they provide.
I could bother less, they are still available now. My child can still learn about nature there and he will be in school by the time developers would start the real action. And all things are transient, this maybe is just natural end of these gardens. But what about the generations to come, are they doomed to live in a concrete city? What about the billions of beings living there – the rabbits, beavers, frogs and birds. What about the bees and insects? It is saddening that we treat the whole world as a never-ending resource to satisfy our never-ending greed and sense of lack.
Honestly, we will feel lacking something as long as we look to satisfy it from the outside. What we really need is to be grounded inside. Also, if I were more grounded and loving, I would need less of the nurturing garden and nature that surround me on the island. But before I learn that, I need that sanctuary, a space that provides and emanates peace.
One thing I have understood, that I dislike the hating mind. You have to love everyone. If an activist is trying to fight for his truth or the truth of some group with a hating mind of the other group, he has lost. It just does not work out this way. And here is a real challenge – when everyone is shouting out loud in rage, how can real change be made peacefully?
As much as I like the global activism of Greta Thunberg and the thousands of people supporting climate justice and real action now, I dislike that she invites to fear, panic and anger. And the message has a clear politicians vs scientists and active youth.
Rev. angel Kyodo Williams in conversation with Sharon Salzberg said that, “What I ran into, of course, was that they [activists] pretty much didn’t love anyone. [Laughter] So love is what I’ve focused on, because in social justice work the only option is loving everyone. Otherwise, there is no path to real change. .. what we need is the combination of a mind that wants to change the world and a mind that is steady, clear–seeing, and seeks change from a place of love, rather than from a place of anger.”
I do not see neither the conflict of my green island, nor the climate action resolved through a dualistic stand. There is some truth on the other side always. Until the activism unfolds within us and them, I do not see a happy ending. But seeing the world as interconnected and one, is actually more of a spiritual quest than just a better politic or economic theory. And we need to wake up to this.
Overcoming institutionalized wrongdoing
Economy is made the way that is has to evolve, more houses and roads need to be build even the previously build ones stay vacant, even if old roads need repair. People believe they need to move to newer and brighter, bigger houses. It is never enough, we believe we have to endlessly consume, we do not even question this unnatural greed that dominates our being. And by charting city development plans with the greed in mind we institutionalize it and make it the norm, normal. But that is far from the natural balance and sustainable development. And then the few speaking up against it become the marginalized nature lovers and green protesters.
However, it is not only greed that is fundamental to our systems, so is also delusion about the human position and ignorance that the world is a co-habitat for all species. We have created states and nations that now run by themselves sometimes attacking their own creators. The state needs this and that. So does the city and municipality. City needs to grow. We have forgotten the human, who lives there, not speaking about something like a ladybug in an ever shrinking city park.
How to be active and feel good about it
We have to see clearly what our system is doing wrong. We have to recognize that our whole economy is based on “not enough” principle. Acting out of that position, we create personal suffering in our lives, but running the whole world out of that principle, we just destroy the habitat and enslave the less advantaged countries, groups and societies.
I am a believer in the success of non violent revolutions. Like we got our independence from Soviet union through “singing revolution”. The system collapsed when our hearts and minds could break free from the false and promising ideologies. And that is how we can win anything. We have to choose where to put our heart and mind. Not trough hate, but love.
The importance of a personal development
And we can do powerful moves if we have the clear-seeking and steady mind that acts out of love. For that we have to love ourselves first. We have to sit and breathe and see reality for what it is. Then, abandon the greedy and delusional ego that is clearly a demon that will never find peace as it thinks of itself as being separated from the rest and inherently lacking something. We have to be enough in our own private lives. Moreover, we have to cultivate the abundance around us. It will take time, but at least it will work. We won’t get our ideals compromised once things start happening the way we envision.
Taking steps together
Once I read a funny but really helpful advice on how to cross a totally busy street in India. I have used that tip ever since.There were multiple points, like do not run, look around and be predictable. Also, join a group to cross more safely. The last I liked most – join the group and cross the street even if you do not need to cross the street. And because eventually we will need to cross the street ourselves, we need this thinking and acting to continue. We all are connected and we need to help to solve problems of others because our own well being is also dependent on that.
And the only way to not understand it is to be ignorant of the suffering the modern capitalist and consumerist society creates. We need to wake up together and see that we might be sawing the branch we are sitting on. Not to alarm you, but we are setting our own house on fire as Greta likes to describe our climate politics. And we’re turning off the oxygen in our cities by overdeveloping them, including the planned roads and skyscrapers on my beloved green island. It is not that I personally need it, I want to save it because you need it as well.
- Sharon Salzberg and Rev.angel Kyodo Williams. Love everyone – a guide for spiritual activists.
- How to do good without harm: on activism and inner peace.