The Politics of Just Living

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One of the tensions in my life, especially since doing a Sociology degree in college, has been between spirituality on the one hand and social engagement on the other.

A part of me (Libra Moon, some would say) has always been concerned with issues of justice. I’ve always come down on the side of the underdog, knowing intuitively that the “have-nots” are continually screwed by the “haves,” and that the “haves” will do just about anything to maintain their status as overlords. At the same time, I’ve known intuitively that, should a “have-not” somehow scramble out of the muck and into the rarefied stratosphere occupied by the “haves,” this new arrival will most likely take on the behavior of his new social class, so that the oppressed is now the oppressor.

With all of this in mind, I have in the past spent a lot of time and energy keeping up with the drama played out between “haves” and “have-nots.” I purchased and devoured books on the following:

The Cold War

The Vietnam War

— The JFK/Malcolm X/MLK/RFK assassinations

The CIA

Watergate

The Spanish Civil War

Nazism

The Federal Reserve

U.S. Intervention in Latin America (and beyond)

The Red Scare

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

AIM and the Black Panther Party

Conspiracy Theories around all the above, plus

9/11

Danny Casolaro and The Octopus

The New World Order

UFO’s

Iran-Contra

COINTELPRO

The War on Drugs

And so forth… you get the picture.

At a certain point – say, around the year 2002 – I looked at the many piles of these books that had mushroomed in my office – some of them already read, most of them waiting – and I asked myself, “What is the point in all of this?”

I’d spent all that time thinking there was an answer to the who, what, when, where and how of our political history. The same names popped up, going back centuries – the same families, same money interests, same bloodlines. I thought that, if I just studied this stuff diligently enough, there would come a time when a light would snap on in my head, and I’d finally emerge into an intellectual clearing – and I’d be able to tell others about my discovery, thereby rendering thousands of years of human ignorance obsolete, so that we may all move forward into a Golden age of total honesty and mutual assistance.

Silly me.

Instead, I came to that moment in 2002 – having already spent years in meditation, studying holy texts and engaging in nonstop spiritual dialog – when I understood that these conspiratorial (or not) machinations were not going to end just because someone like me thought he’d stumbled onto “their” game. It occurred to me that, even if all the worst aspects of all the conspiracy theories – that royal bloodlines are connected with extraterrestrials, that bankers are the new slave drivers, that the New World Order will turn humanity into a Borg hive of soul-less automatons – there is no amount of screaming and hollering and “revelatory disclosure” on my part that is going to bring measurable change. The more you shout CONSPIRACY, the more marginalized you become – laughed at, ridiculed, pushed straight out of “respectable” conversation, relegated to Internet forums filled with other nutjobs who you’d otherwise not touch with a mile-long pole.

It’s not been, however, a matter of simply ignoring my passion for social justice in order to escape into spiritual practice. Rather, it’s been a matter of slowly shifting the emphasis from screaming and hollering (i.e., complaining) about the degenerate state of the external world, migrating toward greater and greater inner awareness, withdrawing from my anguished projections onto the world mirror and allowing something more essential (as in, of my Essence) to bubble up to the surface of my worldly presence.

In other words, I decided to elevate meditation, study of the sacred, and spiritual dialog to occupy larger and larger parts of my daily existence, so that when I now take a look at the horrors of current events, I’m able to honestly assert myself as “not that” — as an antidote, a solution, a reason for hope.

And in the process, I’m meeting many others who’ve come to a similar place. They’re no longer sniveling, playing the victim and waiting for the worst. They are making of themselves living examples, trusting that as a collective expression, millions around the world will form a wave of positive change from within. They trust that external circumstances stand no chance of holding back this wave.

So hey… vote for your favorite Presidential candidate. March for change. Slap bumper stickers on your car. Write to the Editor, to your Representative, your Senator. Sign petitions. Hold placards on street corners. Argue your point of view. Give your two cents. Participate.

I’m for all of this.

I just hope that we all remember: our Paradise is already here, right now, beneath our feet, in our hearts. It’s been here all along; it was never gone. We just have to live it from where we are, no matter what our external circumstances may be. We have plenty that we can do to build-up our Paradise. We can meditate. We can eat right. We can walk instead of drive. We can love instead of hate.

The point is, life’s too short to spend it in opposition to the world around us. With the time we’ve been given, how can it hurt to assert our own Paradise every moment of every day? All those Players of the Game – teach them by your example! They know not what’s best for them, as they are bought into a set of values born of television. Love them, even as they wave weapons in your face. They may not know it, but they are not separate from you.

In this way, the bridge between social justice and spirituality is maintained. In this way, the puzzle is solved… and we are free to get on with just living.

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9 thoughts on “The Politics of Just Living

  1. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt […]

  2. […] adreampuppet wrote this today. I think it is worth reading. Here is a little snippet:The War on Drugs. And so forth… you get the picture. At a certain point – say, around the year 2002 – I looked at the many piles of these books that had mushroomed in my office – some of them already read, most of them waiting – and I … […]

  3. Hawk Sr. says:

    Good stuff, Mike!

    In my many years of Latin American Studies, I grew accustomed to internalized colonialism — the frequent practice of adopting the ways and methods of the conquerors in order to survive in the new order of things. First, the trauma of being conquered creates a sense of inferiority that is constantly studied by Latin American psychologists. It becomes a societal disorder that is played out in daily life in destructive ways. The sense of destructiveness is then recognized by the rank and file of the people who call themselves “hijos de la chingada”, children of the raped one, referring to Dona Malinche, Cortez’ “Indian” mistress. Thus it is said that Mexico was born the night that Dona Malinche slept in Cortez’ arms.

    All of that to say that I know what you mean when you point out how the exploited ones adopt the ways of those who exploit.

    But along the way, there appear individuals and groups who have internalized another reality, one that “comes from above” or from “within”. And through them we get a glimpse of a kingdom of justice based on love. We see the practice of the new kingdom, although limited in its extension. We see some truly beautiful expressions of community that stare the hierarchical oppressors in the face. Jesus, Buddha, Ghandi, Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, Mary, Latin American “comunidades de base”, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many hundreds of other names belong to carriers of another kingdom.

    It impresses me that, although these carriers are all meditators who are immersed in the new reality of life, they are also people of action. They are people who heal, bring health and peace, and act on the basis of justice. They are effective because their internal space is filled with a power that cannot be coopted.

    Will the kingdom whose presence is seen from time to time ever fully prevail? We hope so, but dont’t really know. In the meantime, we are called to live as if it were already here. In you, and others like you, I can see and feel it.

  4. adreampuppet says:

    Excellent comment, Hawk.

    I could probably have put more emphasis on the need for action, or for balance between contemplation/inner reflection and social engagement.

    Maybe this will come out in another essay… 😉

  5. Susannity says:

    I am cyclical in my feelings on this, but I feel overall it must be a blend. Absolutely one must live their life fully, be engaged with themselves and those close to them. However, I do believe part of that is being engaged with the broader world and finding what you can do within that. If I push, debate, heck even just be open to discuss, I have found over the years that many of my closest friends love that as they fear it for themselves. True of even acquaintances. It is a freedom you manifest I think. Plus all the ‘one voices’ and ‘one actions’ may make some difference. It may not be a monumental change in policy or something even largely observable, but it can be a slight shift in someones’ thinking that has the potential to spread to others. It is in my own childrens’ views and actions with others. So many touch points. To turn inward is wonderful as well, but I do believe it should be shared or we become fearful individuals more and more. As Hawk Jr said and the individuals he listed, by living their life, by expressing their beliefs, and then living those beliefs, that power to not be intimidated or embarrassed into silence is what makes them so powerful to the masses.

    Had a 2.5 hr phone discussion about the haves/have-nots with my father this past weekend. My father doesn’t have issue with classism. I strongly push folks from ‘looking down’ the socioeconomic ladder with animosity to ‘looking upward’. My children are now up so I must go, but you get the idea. =)

  6. Susannity says:

    Sorry I meant Hawk Sr, not Jr.

  7. adreampuppet says:

    You bring up good points, Susannity.

    My wife and I have been talking a lot about the consequences of our actions, and how, if I’m honest with myself, I can look back on past relationships to see precisely how my influence on those people caused them to change in some way — sometimes in good ways, sometimes not so good. Karmically, my subsequent life has played out partially in reaction to those changes, since changes in friends and loved ones inevitably spark change in me.

    I do tend to short-change my presence in other people’s lives, feeling that I am somehow isolated in my cave-like existence — but when I take a good look at it, I can see plainly that my moods, my choice of words, the passion behind those words — it all has an effect. If I apply this insight to issues of social justice, perhaps my blogging (for instance) provides at least the opportunity for readers to think in subtly different directions — and then something opens up for them by virtue of this subtle shift. Who knows?

  8. Hawk Sr. says:

    Susannity: I was emitting vibes of hugs and kisses towards you for addressing me as Jr.

  9. Susannity says:

    I think most people in society push back or make others feel insecure about being themselves, for sharing themselves, because they fear 1. how they feel about themselves 2. what others will say about them. And that is tremendous pressure.

    Your statement of changing others – sometimes good and sometimes not. Perhaps you should see yourself just as you see religions and philosophies. Folks can choose to take what they will from their relationships with you and hopefully share themselves with you as well. In my current belief structure, I try to think that if I was dying and had to look back on my life, what I would want to see is who and how I had loved and if I had taught my children to love and be loved and that my close friends who are my family would know that I had loved them. And by sharing yourself Michael, you are loving humanity.

    I shall call you Hawk Jr then. =)

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