There's a lot of web action right now supporting and reporting on the Occupy Protests. This site is no exception, we've been posting since day one and have been investigating this phenomenon of global unrest since the spring. Amidst all the action however, I've got to admit - I can get pretty wound-up. I get excited, passionate about sticking it to the man, and emotionally blinded quite unexpectedly by the larger swings of culture and my peers. This is understandable, but it's had me thinking about what Enlightened Activism looks like. My short definition for Enlightened Activism would be activism that's less ego-driven, but equally passionate and response-able. Lucky for us, Terry Patten has already written a sort of brochure on it.
I thought I'd take today's post to link back to Patten's piece and post a few of my favourite segments. In reading the brochure you can tell where the "enlightened' part comes in. Often spiritual practices are balanced in paradox and Patten's suggestions are true to form. For example, they ask us to be active, yet calm; humble, yet bold; and to be honest about our own capacities, while not giving up on personal change/development.
The parts of it that speak to me most are: the pointing-out of my own contraction against "the other side"; that I need to humble-up and get real about how I'm actually contributing (both to problems and solutions); and that leadership can look like different things - like supporting others who are leading, for example.
Here's a link to the entire article by Terry Patten, it's relevant and worth a (re)read.
Here's a few of my favourite pieces:
"One of the problems with conventional political activism is that it can be so painfully egoic. Egos commonly experience anxiety, and on that basis they feel an urgency to take action. But anxiety-based activism tends to recreate the disharmony that motivates it. If you’ve ever volunteered in a political campaign or for a political cause, you’ve probably come across the incredible narrowing of vision—and often the incredible lack of understanding or compassion for the “other side”—that accompanies these efforts, even if the candidate or cause is otherwise just. That anxious urgency frequently leads to unnecessary conflict, emotional burnout, and even a disaffected cynicism that gives up on the very possibility of meaningful change."
"The very idea of a strategy for evolutionary activism may appear naïve, grandiose—or even dangerous, considering how frequently such grand idealistic aspirations have fed totalitarianism. Nonetheless, the continued survival and evolution of human culture may now depend upon us making a critical transition to sustainability—one that’s not spontaneously emerging via the market’s invisible hand, nor the wise decision-making of our economic and political elites."
"Practice, grow, evolve, mature into the deepest, clearest, most powerful, authentically wise, trustworthy, skillful and persuasive human being you can be. This is the essential foundation, and it will last all of our lifetimes… Notice, it is not necessary to be Bodhidharma or “radically enlightened”, but only to be authentically aligned with and engaged in the process of becoming that kind of being."
"A key point here: many individuals don’t self-identify as “leaders.” A truly integral evolutionary culture (rather than a merely intellectual movement) can contribute directly or indirectly to the process of developing them, including cultivating qualities of leadership even in individuals who may not be in conventional leadership positions."
"If it’s not your dharma to become a decision-maker, become an advisor, a teacher, or influencer of them—or an advisor to such advisors—or just serve such people. It may be your path to simply be a deeply conscious human being who helps create an integral evolutionary spiritual culture that nurtures and supports others who do this work. In any case, you can live a life that expresses a fierce evolutionary commitment to enable sanity and wisdom to guide human affairs."