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Spirituality, Politics, and Social Change

Duane is an avid reader and follower of all things social, spiritual, and political, and a committed leftist.

Revolution is impossible without love.

Revolution is impossible without love.

We Are More Than the Sum of Our Parts

How did Freedom Riders in the 1960s American South carry out their objective, even in the assured knowledge that they would be brutalized on arrival to their assigned bus stations?

How did civil and voting rights activists stay engaged in the movement, knowing full well that high-pressured water hoses, police dogs and billy clubs, and trees and ropes would be their reality?

How did one small man fearlessly remain the figurehead focal point of a colony's resistance to the greatest empire the world has ever known, the British Empire?

How did one small, tenaciously courageous woman spend ten years freeing hundreds of slaves, knowing that one loose tongue or wrong step would mean her brutal death?

Living for the Ages

All those instances and uncountable more had one common factor: All of them were people emboldened by an idea, something bigger than themselves. For a period of time, they were "living for the ages," not from a mindset of merely personal concern and immediate self goals. They were living for something that would reverberate through human history—not to their personal honor, but to the honor of all humanity at that time in history.

Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

— Greek proverb

A quote about change from Arundhati Roy.

A quote about change from Arundhati Roy.

Is It a Paradigm Shift?

As much as the term paradigm shift is overused, I will apply it now. Even the regressive regime we experienced in 2016 is evidence of the paradigm shift. The old order is dying. While that happens, many times societies reach back to 'a simpler time'. However, it's a nostalgic recollection of something that never really was—an idealized dream that neglects the negative, especially painful elements for the oppressed.

Delusional memories of 'better times' occur when insecurity based on fear becomes collectively prevalent for the dominant culture. Marginalized communities are familiar with collective insecurity.

A paradigm shift gives the impression of being caught up in a tide and effortlessly being carried to safety. Nothing could be further from the truth. The change humanity seeks is only accomplished with passionate, consistent effort. It requires the kind of commitment that wakes you up in the morning and puts you to bed at night. For example, becoming a parent is a paradigm shift. Parenting is a whole other level of dedication.

It's Something Deeper: Transformation

What's occurring as we speak is way deeper than paradigm shift. What's happening with humanity today is transformation, metamorphosis, and evolution, with all of the resulting denial and resistance by reactionary regressives. It's becoming increasingly apparent that the system as it is cannot be sustained. What's bubbling up now is bigger, deeper, and more expansive than the civil rights movement, Indian liberation from Britain, and the women's suffrage movement all together.
People are seeing over the walls of the prison yard of perception manufactured for us.

We're realizing that:

  • Cooperation is better than competition.
  • Capitalism doesn't serve the majority of people.
  • Our lives should not be consumed with 'earning a living'.
  • Government should be in the hands of the people, not the corporate few.
  • War is wasteful, not just materially, but in terms of human lives.
  • We are reflections of each other and reflections of our spirit.
  • Systems should serve humanity rather than having humanity serve a system.
  • Art matters.

Humanity is maturing.

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Spiritually Remembering Our Humanity

"To make a revolution, people must not only struggle against existing institutions. They must make a philosophical/spiritual leap and become more 'human' human beings. In order to change/transform the world, they must change/transform themselves."Grace Lee Boggs

That is the major distinction in the present emerging insurgency. It is based in the heart and the soul. It's not an ideological/intellectual-based revolution. The entrenched, reactionary, regressive power structure can withstand and absorb an ideological/intellectual revolt, like it did during the 1960s/70s uprisings. Ideological/intellectual revolutions are based on imposing an idea on society.
Heart/humanity-based revolutions hold a mirror to society, until society changes because it doesn't like its reflection.

True revolutions become evolutionary leaps. This always starts at the personal level by individuals pondering their contribution to the inequities of the whole, as well as how their change could effect balancing the scales of societal justness.

Gandhi walking to the sea to make his own salt in order to circumvent the British salt tax and spinning his own cloth for his garment to circumvent the British textile tax were examples of evolutionary leaps—individual actions that broke a global empire's grip on India. There weren't a majority of Indians following Gandhi, only a critical mass. Gandhi's walks to the sea became parades of people, but it was enough for the British Empire to see the commitment—the heartfelt commitment—that Gandhi inspired.

Think Globally, Act Locally

"Although a good and just political system which guarantees basic human rights and contains checks and balances to the use of power is an important condition for a happy society, people should not fritter away their time by endlessly searching for the ultimate political system where men can be completely free, because complete freedom cannot be found in any system but only in minds which are free. To be free, people will have to look within their own minds and work towards freeing themselves from the chains of ignorance and craving. Freedom in the truest sense is only possible when a person uses Dhamma to develop his character through good speech and action and to train his mind so as to expand his mental potential and achieve his ultimate aim of enlightenment." —The Urban Dharma Newsletter

'Dhamma' is a Buddhist rendering of the Hindu word dharma. It's loosely translated to Western culture as character or integrity. Western culture, especially in America, is heavily based on self-centered material acquisition and social status. This is bad dharma. People in the West are gradually waking up to the emptiness of Western culture, remembering our connection to each other and the earth, and envisioning a more sustainable, meaningful life experience. One's sovereign individuality needn't be sacrificed. We need to recall our empathy and compassion for those less fortunate, see our planet past dollar signs as our childhood home, and care for her and each other from that mindset.

You don't even have to believe in 'God'. Simply ponder the universal reality beyond your own state of affairs. Spend some time pondering what life must be like for another. It's a powerful exercise if the focus of your empathy is someone less fortunate. Realize that you are not an island in the sea of humanity. No one goes home alone.

One Love, Duane Townsend

© 2016 Duane Townsend


Duane Townsend (author) from Detroit on May 04, 2016:

Thanks threekeys,

Those points come from observation over time. I'm a writer, writers are above all else, observers.

How do I manifest them?

I write, I try to engage people with expansive ideas.

threekeys on May 04, 2016:

I couldn't find the words. But you, Duane, captured the essence of the inner movement and now we need to follow/make the outer movement.

I agree with your list of eight points. Do these 8 points come from your personal self? Or its out in the ethers already?

And how are you manifesting these 8 points in your everyday life?

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