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Spirit based activism is new to me. Most of my adult life I voted and tried to do good in the world as I went about my days and explored the spiritual concepts that I enjoy so much (discussed elsewhere on this site).
The world has always been “messy” but it wasn’t so messy that it was something that I thought about daily. But then big stuff happened: Covid, a really weird and angrier-than-usual 2020 election, and the subsequent insurrection…I was pulled into world events. ?
As I got immersed in the struggle, a part of me wondered about the best way(s) to help. I started looking at my activism against all my spiritual ideas and ideals.
And the conclusion I came to–much as I did regarding religion and spirituality–is that there is not just one “right” way. There is not just one way to participate and help the world at large.
Oftentimes, as I was doing something I felt was important, I would have music playing that inspired me. So many songs, so many quotes speak to me. And often they seem to contradict each other. ?
An easy example is the idea of non-resistance vs being “resistors.” They both seem to be valid approaches. I suppose people like Gandhi and MLK exemplified how the two seemingly opposite ideals can be combined. Other ideas were not as easily put together.
So I decided to write this post in a non-linear way. I will offer a song or quote that inspires me and a short interpretation of how that applies to trying to co-create a better world for all.
As alluded to before, sometimes the messages seemingly contradict each other. But really, that’s life. To quote an old Kenny Rodgers song,
You’ve got to know when you hold ’em. Know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.The Gambler
Different modes fit different situations, different people, and even different moods! ? And all things can work together for Good, for those of us wanting Good for all (to paraphrase the Bible).
Spirit Based Activism Lesson #1: Gotta Get Outta Bed, Get a Hammer and A Nail
I gotta get out of bed and get a hammer and a nail
Learn how to use my hands, not just my head
I think myself into jail
Now I know a refuge never grows
From a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose
Gotta tend the earth if you want a rose
My life is part of the global life
I’d found myself becoming more immobile
When I’d think a little girl in the world can’t do anything
A distant nation my community
A street person my responsibility
If I have a care in the world I have a gift to bringHammer and Nail, Indigo Girls
This song makes me embrace the notion of “pray and move your feet.” ?
I would say before all of the turmoil that pulled me back into being politically vocal and active, I was much more of a thinker than a doer. I mostly concentrated on my corner of the world as far as actions, and did not think about the world at large too much. There is some value in such an approach. The world at large can be overwhelming!
This song reminds me of the ripple effect of having a “care in the world.” When you see your life as part of the global life, you start partaking in actions for the greater good. And such participation is really needed! Big actions and little actions all matter!
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”Albert Einstein
Maybe you can’t run for office, but you can join a phone or text bank. Maybe you can’t create a charitable foundation, but you can make regular donations. Maybe you aren’t an influencer, but you can amplify truthful and important messages. Maybe you’re not a great orator, but you can dispel misinformation and share facts. Maybe you don’t know what to do, but you can be kind to those you meet.
Gotta tend the earth if you want a rose. ?
Spirit Based Activism Lesson #2: No Foe Am I Afraid of
I mention Peter Mayer in many posts. He’s a folk singer that sings songs about the wonders and interconnectedness of humanity and the world. Not surprisingly, then, his music is useful when looking at the trials and tribulations facing mankind. ?
These words are from The Morning, by Peter Mayer
See how the night is overPeter Mayer
The dew is on the clover
The first light in the sky is forming
No foe am I afraid of
No force for I am made of
The same light that made the morning
This acoustic and gentle melody soothes me on days when the darkness of some people or situations would overwhelm. I am reminded of my true nature as spirit and how, in truth, no harm can befall me.
On these days my spirit-based activism focuses more on spirit vs action. I seek to look beyond appearances to the good underneath. I often think of the story of Jesus healing the man with the withered hand. He didn’t do anything. He saw beyond the appearance, and that was enough. I love that. It matches stories I have read of unusual healings. Modern healings that have been documented.
I know that such miracles are not commonplace –we do not seem to be advanced enough to rely on such a way, myself included. But, for me, the potential is really intriguing for personal and global transformation.
So, some days, spirit-based activism is about spiritual vision.
Spirit Based Activism Lesson #3: Even If We All Forget at the Same Time
Like the previous song, this one is one I turn to a lot. In 2020, as I wrote postcards to swing states, I almost always had this playing. ? It just reinforces my belief in the underlying unity of life even when we have forgotten–which is quite often.
First thing that you’ll notice is some separation from each other
Yes, it’s a lie, we’ve been believing since time immemorial
There was an apple, there was a snake, there was division
There was a split, there was a conflict in the fabric of life
One became two, and then everyone was out for themselves
Everyone was pitted against each other, conflict ruled the realm
All our devotions and temperaments are pulled from different wells
We seem to easily forget we are made of the same cells
Second thing you’ll notice is that
Often we think that there’s not enough
It might feel dark
It might feel lonely and you’ll wonder why you’re here
You may be overcome with darkness and a sense of hopelessness
But it won’t matter if you keep the core connected to the oneness
And this cord is unbreakable
This pilot light is there in your pocket
And this bond, beyond unshakeable
Even if we all forgot all at the same time
If we forget at the same timeAblaze, Alanis Morisette
(note-I pulled out my favorite parts of the lyrics)
Sometimes spirit-based activism is hard. ? The “other”–those that are racist and mean and oppressive are so infuriating, and it’s easy to forget that we are all connected.
To stay connected to the oneness while taking actions for justice and equity is the “good trouble” that people like John Lewis exemplified. Their actions were relentlessly love-based.
The idea of being connected is also the basis of the idea of my daily prayer/meditation group. I like the idea of healing humanity on a spiritual level vs the hard work that seems to be before us. As I mentioned above, however, it seems we’re not quite there yet and solutions are mostly wrought by some level of effort and action.
Things are just not as clear cut as I would like, I suppose. ? I remember in college reading Love, Medicine, and Miracles, by Dr. Bernie Siegel. There were lots of stories of people healing from cancer by addressing emotional issues and using visualization. Others, healed emotionally but not physically.
There seems to be aspects of spiritual healing that don’t follow linear rules. ?
Spirit Based Activism Lesson #4: Storm Winds Blowing Through
Parker J. Palmer is a guy I follow on Facebook. He’s in his 80’s I believe and has a cool perspective on our trials and tribulations that he often connects with nature and poetry. ? I love the analogy he shares here (similar to the idea of blessings in disguise, as I have discussed elsewhere).
Parker’s perspective reminds me that things that look bad on the surface, often bring needed change and growth. So things like realizing there’s still too much racism and hate in the world, is maybe a step towards healing it vs when it was more hidden.
Spirit Based Activism Lesson #5: Part of Something Beautiful
I was introduced to this song in a post by Pam Grout–one of my favorite authors. It starts off a bit like a chant. And, in that its lyrics are largely repetitive, I guess it IS a bit like a chant. ?
May the Grace of God be with you always, in your heart May you know the truth inside you from the start May you find the strength to know that you are a Part of something beautiful…Alexi Murdoch
These words remind me, that Life is beautiful always. Even amidst ugliness.
Have you seen the movie, Life is Beautiful? It’s based loosely on real people, and the basic story is about a dad and his son taken to a concentration camp in Nazi Germany, and the dad’s efforts to make the experience a kind of game, to find fun for his son even in the darkest, horrific settings. It’s an amazing story (be warned–it’s in Italian, and you’ll need to read the subtitles if not fluent ?)!
Sometimes I get bummed by all the crises–bad people, bad environmental outlook. On those days, this song reminds me that I am part of something beautiful, even when I don’t see it.
Spirit Based Activism Lesson #6: What If Love
Here’s another one from Peter Mayer: What If Love:
And what if that love still sings
Is still alive in everything
Moving through the whole universe
Rising in the light and dark
Hiding in the smallest part
Burning like a flame that always burns
Like the atoms, like the air
Invisible but everywhere
Then when we feel undonePeter Mayer, What If Love
Or sick because we’ve been spun
Around on the wheel of despair
We can just breathe it in
Reach for that source again
Reach out to what’s already there
The mystery from whence we came
Just for a song let’s give it a name
Looking at news (I only read news. I find news shows like to repeat the same things over and over and to seemingly try to stir things up. No thanks. ? ) one can easily walk away feeling like they’d been “spun around on the wheel of despair.”
That defeatist attitude doesn’t do any one any good! And so it’s good to be reminded to reach for “source”–whatever that might mean to you. That reaching out might mean meditation. It might mean connecting with a loved one or friend. It might mean immersing yourself in music, or a simple visualization, or a walk in nature.
It’s really just a shift of perspective. And that shift can be key to pursuing actions for a better world with a peaceful heart.
Bringing this back to the topic of activism: It’s important to try to ground yourself in whatever spiritual or philosophical ideas and beliefs you have that give meaning to your life before you step into action. Repeatedly. ?
So, I’ve shared a lot of inspirational backdrop, if you will, to nurture you as you try to bring about a kinder, gentler world through political and other traditional activism means. I am writing this with a midterm election coming up, and my hope is to encourage people to be especially active because of what’s at stake.
Here are my thoughts of things we each can do.
To Do List:
- Share facts and dispel disinformation when you are able. Not worth fighting about, but worth speaking up.
- Check your own registration to vote (at iwillvote.com) and remind everyone you know to check theirs–as in soon! Not last minute ?
- Make your plan to vote. Will you vote by mail? In person? If voting in person, try to bring a group with you–in some places there might be people trying to intimidate you (even though that’s illegal). There’s safety in numbers. ?
- Consider being a poll worker. It’s not completely benign, as it should be. But they are vital to the functioning of democracy. And you get paid . ?
- Volunteer in a campaign –they have phone banking and texting tasks so you can even do from home.
- or do Postcards to Swing States (I am writing these now). But order soon. They have to be completed and ready to mail by mid-October.
- Try to get people who have heretofore ignored politics to realize what all is at stake and urge them to vote (blue).
- Join my Daily Good Vibes effort, or do visualizing on your own of the “highest good” coming to pass–in this election and always. Do both!
- Be kind. Whatever goes on politically or globally, kindness can have a ripple effect and adds goodness to the collective.
- Practice blessing. Blessing people and politicians –especially those we don’t like–is a conscious way of releasing or practicing non-resistance. Here’s a good one from Catherine Ponder: “I bless you, and bless you for the goodness of God that is within you.” Or just use the ho’oponopono prayer I share on the Daily Good Vibes linked to above.
- Raise your vibe. Sure, it’s a bummer to think of fascism in the US or hate groups or climate change. ? But there is power in simply feeling good, being happy. As Esther would say, shining a spotlight on what you want by how you live, day to day.
It Takes all Kinds
In conclusion spirit based activism, as I see it, recognizes the wisdom in the old adage It takes all kinds to make a world.
We need the action takers, the movers and the shakers. Those that run for and hold office and do the hard work of governing and social work and planning and science etc…. the DOERS.
And we also need the ones who hold the higher vision. There was a post I saw once on Facebook about certain Native Americans having tribe members whose role it was to simply hold the highest vision for their tribe. They didn’t have tasks like everyone else. They spent their days connected to the oneness, as Alanis sings about. ? These are the “BE”ers.
I imagine most people are a mix. Some days we may act as doers, some days more like “be”ers. We may even change modes for different times of day or based on our moods. It’s all good, and each day we just need to make it a conscious decision. To choose how we will contribute, to Let It Be Me ?
But the power of truth
Is the fuel for the flame
So the darker the ages get
There’s a stronger beacon yet
Let it be me
(this is not a fighting song)
Let it be me
(not a wrong for a wrong)
Let it be me
If the world is night
Shine my life like a light
In the kind word you speak
In the turn of the cheek
When your vision stays clear
In the face of your fear
Then you see turning out a light switch
Is their only power
When we stand like spotlights
In a mighty tower
All for one and one for all
Then we sing the common callIndigo Girls, Let It Be Me
Want to raise your vibe, but not sure how? Check out my 30 Days to a Happier Life Mini-Email-Course