Dan linked to these excerpts of a book called Waking Up by Charles T Tart. This quote nicely summarises a philosphy that has become more and more important to me over time.
Few of us may be in a position to have a decisive influence on world peace, but cultivation of our own inner resources can create peacefulness and effectiveness in action in ourselves and the people we come in contact with, and this can spread. As we attack those near us less and care for them more, we start to have effects on the kinds of political processes that need enemies for hidden psychological reasons. It is my hope that furthering the creation of inner peace in people will contribute to outer peace.
So being a nice person is a radical act in this world!
The only thing I have to to that add is that attempting to influence world peace or any other issue before we work on ourselves can often be ineffective or even counter productive as our actions are coloured by the need to ‘attack’ those around us.
I saw a great example of this recently. The unschooling list we’re on, which is usually a totally awesome list, started discussing vegetarianism and carbon footprinting. It was very clear from the discussion that the vegetarians and carbon footprinters assumed that they were occupying the moral high ground in these discussions. Leaving aside debate over whether they were right in the first place there were several things I noticed.
The first was the subtle coercive nature of the debate. In fact it wasn’t a debate to start with. No one argued against them until either myself or Karen began that side of the debate and then there was a flurry of responses from people who presumably felt they now had permission to give their ‘incorrect’ point of view.
The other thing that I noticed was that the proponents of these issues seemed to take a semi religious approach to vegetariansim or carbon footprinting. One person told me that angry responses were part of the normal process where people went through an anger stage before they get to the acceptance stage. It’s certainly true but what I didn’t say at the time is that sometimes anger is a stage people go through when someone is trying to lay a guilt trip on them and it usually passes as soon as that person backs off!
Anyway I’m sure most people feel really satisfied after they have told someone off for not being a vegetarian or a carbon foot printer but I’d really like it if they tried a different approach. And as I said at the time I’m not arguing against anyone being a vegetarian or a carbon footprinter – quite the contrary in fact – I encourage anyone who has strong beliefs in these areas to pursue them because what we need more than anything else in this world are people who follow their hearts. All I want is the space to be able to follow my heart too.