Adapted with thanks from Terry Patten’s Gratitude, Grief and Finding Your Yes
An Ode to Activism
Only human beings can protect and defend the future of life on Earth from human beings. It will take conscious individuals making deliberate choices based on the best information available – people presuming responsibility – to make a difference. Nothing could be more honorable and worthwhile.
Transformative activism emerges from the stark recognition that we really are the co-creators of our world. We wake up from the trance in which we had imagined ourselves to be passive observers of the world, standing somehow apart from it. We recognize that we are not “in the stands” watching the action from an objective vantage point, and we never have been. We have always been on the field, and the ball is in play. When we realize we are full participants, we awaken into activism, and our practice becomes to engage with the game completely, holding nothing back.
The word “activist” conjures images of sit-ins, people circulating petitions and raising money and marching and organizing and educating people about our issue. But it also means doing research, starting businesses that take the shift away from wireless dependence, making loans, and changing one’s tech habits.
When people creatively act on their moral intuition, all kinds of things happen. The world of activism is very big, diverse, and dynamic. And it requires – and helps us along in – transcending the collective trance.
There is no way that we can address the whole tangle of causes and consequences – everything is connected to everything else. Our predicament requires a revolutionary transformation of every aspect of human life – a “Great Transition” or “Great Turning.” It will ultimately require revolutionary changes in human consciousness, behavior, culture, and the physical, economic, and political infrastructure of our whole civilization. It is so vast and intricate, it easily seems impossible.
We might be tempted to despair, but we can’t reside there: despair easily becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because this huge transformation has so many aspects, every one of us can readily find ways to magnify love and sanity and beauty and truth and connection. Every one of us can find many things we can actually do.
To be an effective agent of change does not mean we have to know everything. But it does require opening to another level of transformation and creativity. Our crisis seems overwhelming, and yet we live in a universe of awe-inspiring creative potential – in nature, in our fellow humans, in the evolutionary process, and certainly in ourselves.
By giving ourselves over to something that feels true we magnify health and wholeness, even in the face of fragmentation – and in our trust of the larger process, we also become more effective.
Our issue is a complex one, and we don’t have to figure it all out. We can cut through the mind chatter by asking a deeper and more essential question: Can I find in myself a no-matter-what commitment? Under the worst-case scenario, can I still tap into the well of uncaused, unreasonable happiness? Can I still relate to others, and to all of life, with care and love? Can I, to the fullest extent possible, remain present as a force for good in every moment?