27 Days of Change and Social Justice

This June is packed with so many events, and I so look forward to it all!

But what I’m most excited about is the CXC’s (Center for Transformative Change’s) 27 Days of Change.

CXC’s 27 Days of Change is an opportunity to mindfully develop sustainable, healthy habits that will help you in all areas of your life.  You practice these new habits alongside your virtual “sangha” (a sanskrit term, one meaning of which is ‘practice community’) through weekly phone calls, daily quotes and talks via email, and access to an online forum among other things. You fill out a 360-degree, 6-point intention agreement modeled on traditional Buddhist paramitas (aka ‘transcendental virtues’) that affect change not only in your life, but others’ (an important angle here is to create social justice in an integrated way, creating a healthier and more sustainable existence for all).

I don’t have much time for a long post this week, but I wanted to make sure I spread word about this – I love volunteering at CXC because it has enriched my life and personality, and I only want others to benefit from it as well!

The website is a bit outdated, so please ask me questions if you have them, or call (888) 976-2426.

For FAQs and details, please see http://27daysofchange.com/

Peace!

 

Nigeria, Boko Haram, and Fantasies of Benevolent Intervention

Insightful look at the politics of international intervention and humanitarianism.

Xavier's Blog

central-accord-opens-in-coloful-styleIt’s no surprise that imperial states think of themselves as having a monopoly on humanitarianism. In the words of President Obama, the United States has for decades been “an anchor of global stability.” Even filmmakers buy into this charade. Recently Steven Spielberg, in one of his less known departures into the world of science fiction, honored President Obama for his humanitarianism at an event organized by the Shoah Foundation. Obama was recognized as an “Ambassador for Humanity” whose “interest in expanding justice and opportunity for all is remarkably evident.” It’s easy to laugh at fantasies of this kind but when national leaders attempt to act on them they should be examined more seriously. Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls and US policymakers and the “free press” have exploded into a fit of pro-interventionist hysteria. It’s hard to escape media reports about the ruthless cruelty of Boko…

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Mary, Mary, quite contrary – how does your compassion grow?

“In our societies and in our hearts, we are still willing to use force — to bomb people into peace — thus empowering our government to do so. This, we must transform ourselves to no longer be able to bear.”

-angel Kyodo williams, excerpt from essay doing darkness: change vs. transformation

Drop compassion, not bombs!

At heart, I’m an indecisive, introspective escapist. I also work with bodily complications which impair my concentration. After I experienced severe migraines and a bout of work burnout, I didn’t think I wanted anything from life besides freedom from the pain. I left the position because I knew I could work in a needlessly complicated environment just with my own voice as company – and I have indeed been struggling. Making changes in an effort to transform into an agent of justice takes time, and I ultimately owe my lack of focus to withheld pain and misdirected anger. I have used aggression where I should have used compassion, and it must become unbearable for me to behold.

For unbiased guidance of my efforts, I look to a series of principles rooted in the universal experiences humans share: Buddhist philosophy. Now a multifaceted religion, Buddhism began as a series of experiential observations that is universal and, at its core, meant to unite the likes of all people through accepting and living up to what is good for all (as opposed to a select few – Kant’s categorical imperative deals with that idea too). In alarmingly concise terms:

We all suffer

We all want to end our suffering, which only makes it worse

We can train ourselves to end collective suffering

Basically, I want to do more that is conducive to the good of all. Obviously MUCH easier said than done. And I wouldn’t call myself a Buddhist by even a long shot. But I certainly appreciate the practice in support of social justice implemented at the Center for Transformative Change. You’ve heard the saying “Air so thick with tension you can cut it with a knife”? Well, the air at that place is so thick and rich with clear intention you want to eat it with a scoop of vanilla. Now, this is not the path everyone takes to promote the good of all and justice in the world, which is just fine. Every path is paved with obstacles and imperfections. But, all denominations aside, we must practice compassion and good will not only with our families, but toward all that we rely on. In an attempt to practice indiscriminate compassion, I quietly look inward to see where my actions promote unnecessary tension or delay peaceful interaction. Sitting in acceptance of my missteps makes the truths that define them as ‘missteps’ much more obvious. This helps me see situations with clarity, informing my practice of accepting my most well-intentioned self, and others, with a level mind and compassionate heart.

We can’t erase history. Can’t erase those dreams we wish our past selves had understood were nightmares. But I am realizing how pain can breed compassion (thanks, body, for releasing the same hormones whether I’m having sex or a baby! Blessing or curse???). I now see clearly what some call the ‘thin line between love and hate’ so clearly in my passion and aggression over the years, and it is incredibly difficult not to react aggressively (whether passive or direct) when something in you just screams you deserve better. I must create space in my intentions to take action towards finding that common ground, no matter the difficulty. Which has required a hell of a lot of effort and research so far, and will ultimately take a lifetime of it.

But I know I’m not alone in my bouts of suffering. I won’t force anyone to see the benefits of transformation, but I can be an example (shy as I may currently be about it). Let the training continue and the compassion grow.

 

 

 

the importance of looking within to find what is without

Learning new things – okay, life in general – was so much easier for me in adolescence – from the theatrically musical inspirations of Peter Pan to the eloquent, rhymed sentiments of 2Pac Shakur (and in a great 2Pac throwback by Travie McCoy), we see this call back to the days of our bright-eyed, inquisitive selves. But youth isn’t exactly what I miss (no thank you curfews). It’s the seeming straightforwardness with which I was educated; the creative spirit that was encouraged in a grade-school microcosm meant to progressively teach the skills we’d need upon traversing into young adulthood.

Unfortunately, general education doesn’t always prepare you to deal with deceptive leaders who value profit over their communities harmed by negligent corporate practices. Here’s looking at you, Chevron: with 2 billion in profits per year, there is no excuse to put off 100% modernization of your refinery and invest in renewable energy (which will hopefully keep lawyers from filing all these claims cases, right?). And we all know Chevron isn’t the only one getting away with murder.

So I’m here to say that those getting away with things (and please know that I’m no angel – but really, who is? well, maybe this guy) have a responsibility to encourage healthy life in our environments, which begins with looking inward. Our bodies are environments in themselves. They need many of the things that the earth provides. And we may find our way to mars – but why go there and do exactly what we’re doing here? We should work on learning to live with what we have, not what we think we want or need.

Everyone breathes the same thing, is composed of 60-some percent water, and seeks out pleasure over pain. But I can’t help imagining how much pain my generation’s descendants will experience if fracking and carbon emissions aren’t presently considered as true long-term threats to the environment.

How much emotional pain will they experience when they realize that we somehow forgot they would need drinking water, that far too many ignored this slow threat that we could have planned much, much better for? We are the descendants of others and deal with many of their lingering triumphs and mistakes, so let’s try and minimize what terrors we leave for our progeny.

Whether or not you believe in global warming, climate change IS occurring – the droughts and fires in my native CA are definite proof of a shrinking source of water. And whether or not you’ve been impacted by fracking, there are plenty of complaints and displacements on record showing the hazard it poses to communities’ drinking water alone. So we need to look at what really matters. Technological advancement should not happen at the expense of the planet, nay, universe which borne humankind into existence.

We must coexist, and this coexistence will be difficult if we can’t see that, on the inside, we’re all the same. My blood is your blood, and yours is mine. Perhaps we do not look the same, but what we learned in grade school prevails whether or not we’d like to acknowledge it. Golden rules shouldn’t only apply to a few, for we are all worthy. For we are many, and we are all one body – corporation, even – of humanity.