I think the most useful phrase you could ever repeat to yourself as a mantra is this: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. It’s often attributed to Gandhi, but actually what he said was this: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”
Wherever it came from, it’s a useful adage. Too often activists are advocating change, but what they really want is for someone else to do all the hard work. Take someone advocating for legislative change – are they prepared to do the work to draft the legislation, get it consulted on, get legal advice, take it to an MP to get it introduced? Not likely when they can get a sound bite outside parliament holding a placard.
There’s another tendency for some activists to be ‘shoulding’ everyone but themselves – “you should all ride bikes to work” (except me because I HAVE to drive today).
So there’s a very simple test you can do before you join a cause – are you prepared to do what it really takes to change the world? Clicking on a petition is very easy, but are you prepared to change your lifestyle? Now I know many people who are quietly and conscienciously working on just those things, but they don’t get the publicity.
If you are worried about the wages they pay Indian clothing workers – are you prepared to give up cheap clothes? Worried about Global Warming – will you give up your air conditioner? Worried about deforestation – will you check the provenance of every piece of furniture?
It’s all about personal responsibility. As a Pagan, I have a personal relationship with my Gods/Goddesses and that requires personal sacrifice from time to time. I have to commit, or there will be no benefit. I have to take personal responsibility for my own actions, not simply hand them over to fate. And also as a Pagan, I hold the natural world to be sacred. Therefore, I must do whatever I can to enhance the natural world and prevent others from desecrating it.
Now I’m not the sort of person who lives wild in the woods. I do have an indoor toilet, and hot water, and a refrigerator. But I am working on ways of cutting my impact on the world down, piece by piece. I am shaving bits off my carbon footprint every day.
This series will be about all the ways you personally can be a Sacred Activist – to change the world to a better place, one person at a time.