Mary H. Reaman
Every Sunday we say, “None of us all free until all of us are free.” And yet very often when we talk about larger societal problems, even we, who have good intentions, and more resources than most, sometimes feel powerless to affect change. Many times I’ve heard people say things like, “The world’s issues are so overwhelming I don’t feel like anything I can do will make a difference.” Big government and red tape, in addition to our own fear or reluctance to get involved, detain and prevent us from doing anything. But we’re learning from the Kony 2012 campaign that social action is taking a different form in this technological age. The masses can be moved!
Part of the reason we come here on Sundays is to connect with people, to belong to something, to be part of something that is bigger than ourselves. Part of fulfilling that desire requires meeting outside of this safe space and this safe space, and actually contributing to making the larger community and the world a safe place. If we can give others a taste of what we have here, hope, trust, connection, assurance that they aren’t alone, the world will not only be safer, but it will be transformed.
This month we’ve been looking at what it means to be a seeker. And sometimes seekers get a bad rap because they’re always seeking and never doing. There’s a temptation for people like us, and like-minded, insular communities, to stay with our inner work, to navel gaze and only work on one’s own growth and/or the growth of our immediate relationships/community. While working on oneself is beneficial, we always have to attend to the inner and outer work, as best as we can, at the same time.
We live in a micro/macro universe – what’s happening in here (our hearts) affects what’s happening out there and what’s happening out there affects what’s happening in here (our hearts). So we always have to pay attention to both. We often do one better than the other, but ultimately the spiritual journey is about balance, so neither can be ignored without it manifesting in imbalance, disease, or devaluation of some aspect of life.
Here at TLCUU we focus a good bit on our (personal) inner work and now as we begin to form a board and put by laws in place we are tending to the inner work of our organization. And that is all good! But I received Ryan’s text as a call to action, a challenge to us to begin to move and make a shift toward greater balance by engaging the work of the world/macrocosm. Engaging the work of the macrocosm means we have to go beyond these four walls and join with others to use our collective energy to shed light on injustice, oppression and violence and stand together for the things we value – justice, freedom, peace and unity.
Engaging the larger community, like the other aspects of seeking, requires openness. It doesn’t mean we aren’t critical. If you’ve been watching the evening news then you know that there are a good number of people criticizing the organization Invisible Children and the Kony campaign.
They raise the issue that Invisible Children spends the majority of its money getting the message out rather than on direct service. Others suggest that the video presents the issue as if it is a subversive form of imperialism suggesting that white Americans are acting as savior to black Africans and so they propose not getting involved in the Kony 2012 campaign or supporting Invisible Children at all.
We can always allow criticism to paralyze us, but we must acknowledge that there are many organizations who do a great deal of good work in the world with dysfunctional internal workings, just like there are many people who do good work for the larger community, but still contribute to the dysfunction in their families. One does not necessarily negate the other. But that is a distinction each has to draw for oneself.
I feel it is time we stopped dividing things into black and white issues, First world and Third world issues, east and west, male and female, gay and straight, etc. and see them only as OUR issues. Human Issues. Global Issues. Justice Issues.
As I, and others, looked deeper into the criticisms and Invisible Children as an organization, I still couldn’t find any reason why we would not participate in raising consciousness about what is happening there. It is astounding to me that something of this magnitude could be going on so long and I/we not know it! But now we do know it and we can inform others and help keep attention on the issue until more is done for those who are still affected by Stephen Kony and the LRA.
For those who feel now is the time to put some energy into the active side of what it means to be a seeker, the active side of being one with one another, for those who are ready to actively express that none of us are free until all of us are free, I hope you will lend your energy as a member of TLCUU to cover the night on April 20th and infuse it with the light of awareness.
We can only change what we are aware of – so show up, share the awareness and let’s make the world a safer, brighter and better place.
We will talk more about the details and answer questions during Tree Talk.