Friday, July 08, 2005

Spirituality for activists

One of the great tragedies of the 1960s social-activist movements (well, there were several tragedies: idealizing drugs, indulgin ego, financial privilege, tendencies toward naively single-issued topical focii) was the absence among many activists of a sense of spiritual center. Blaming poor grunts for the Vietnam war, creating rage even while protesting its murderous results, damning opposing views instead of building bridges, burning out on anger: these all resulted from a lack of spiritual center, and the sense of compassion and right ethics that a spiritual center provides. Three of the great hopeful paths arising from the ashes of the Sixties were feminism's desire to strengthen individual and minority identity, the environmental movement's sense of personal responsibility and global impact ("Think Globally, Act Locally"), and the discovery/rediscovery of life as a spiritual expression found in Buddhism, Hinduism, Primitive Christianity, Judaism, Native American spirituality, paganism, and related wisdom traditions.

If we're going to keep our sanity as activists, we need each of us to find a spiritual center. We need to laugh, pray, and mourn as well as do battle.

For me, engaged Buddhism's been helpful. For example, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship makes this connection explicit, focusing on social justice issues and provides community and agenda ideas. Gary Snyder's poetry and prose puts it into words and actions and has done for the past 50 years. See his joyful pledge of allegiance to Turtle Island, For All.

Meanwhile, tonight I'm going to go play music with my friends.

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