Spirituality, Equality Among Elitists

Posted on October 29, 2009. Filed under: How Spirituality Works | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

I was reading articles and blogs today about the 350 organization and the International Day of Climate Action (Blackinkproject, Husky Soul, je vais ou?, Green Drinks Singapore, 350now’s blog, ecosociety, Art Action Union, Live What You Believe). I was encouraged by the displays of creativity and organizational skill needed to pull off last Saturday’s events. These are truly strengths that need to be built upon in order to deal with global climate change. The combined activities of the day were clearly an attempt to produce media coverage in order to generate political pressure for the upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen. I question whether this approach will have the desired effect because focusing on creating political pressure for the summit is not an approach that causes the billions of people living on the planet to take personal responsibility.

In spirituality being interconnected with All means that we are part of any problem that comes up, and in order for us to resolve that problem we must first take personal responsibility for our own contribution to that problem, and change our own behavior. While some, including myself, might argue that there is a spiritual component to every problem, we can all probably agree that if a problem has a spiritual cause it cannot be resolved except with a spiritual solution. Global climate change is a perfect example of this in practical terms because human exploitation of the Earth’s natural resources is the cause, which is ultimately has a spiritual cause. This spiritual problem can only be resolved by the billions of humans becoming more spiritually responsible personally in relation to the environment.

Exploitation of anything, whether it be another human being, a social weakness, a workforce,  or the environment, has some mindset that justifies that exploitation. This is because when we have a mindset that justifies exploitation it comes from our elitist thought process. We all have elitist thought processes. Have you ever met a two year old that was not self-centered? During the formative years of our thinking process we were all self-centered. We had to be to survive. It was necessary for us to learn to clamor for the attention that we needed and this laid the framework for us all to have self-centered thought processes. We all developed our communication skills in this way. All of our personal preferences come from this. All cultural bias is based on this and it has elitism at its core because when we express our wants a part of ourselves does not care about the cost of what we want to others. This is elitism when we put our desires above the cost of those desires to others because it means that what we want is more valuable than what others want and that we are more valuable than those others. As long as the elitist mindset that justifies the exploitation is not dealt with directly it persists, the problem remains unresolved, and most usually intensifies.

Equality on the other hand is contrary to elitism. Equality is a spiritual understanding that comes from spiritual experiences that convey that everything is interconnected, that there is oneness in all things. The spiritual concept of equality is that in order for there to be peace,  justice, and happiness it is a requirement to first put equality above elitist tendencies. Equality is based on the understanding that we can never be truly happy without recognizing the spiritual presence within all others as equal to our own.

What is lacking in environmental efforts like those demonstrated Saturday by the 350 Organization is that they try to produce change by pressuring governments and politicians to make it happen. There is a lack of emphasis on taking personal responsibility. The thought is that if we can get a treaty signed, if we can get political leaders to agree to certain goals it will get the ball rolling. This is not the way that spirituality works. At some point we all need to develop more sustainable ways of living. Politician cannot connive a way to make this happen by signing treaties and passing laws when it is how we make our choices that is the problem. We all contribute to making that problem worse. There is no solution possible until majorities of our populations change how we make these choices in self-centered ways. When the people do this politicians will follow.

Consider the unsustainability of consuming meat at the rate that humanity is drastically increasing. “The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation (Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler, NYT).”   Getting political leaders to sign an agreement in Copenhagen is not going to get people to change how they choose to eat. Are people willing to change their eating habits for the betterment of the environment? Not if they can delude themselves into thinking that governments are going to work everything out. Spiritually we do not change as long as we can cling to our delusions. The political show that accompanies any agreement that the conference produces will only shift attention away from people taking personal responsibility. As long as it is perceived that the governments of the world are taking care of the problem there will be less likelihood of mass populations significantly changing their personal behavior. We have a spiritual problem. We are avoiding taking personal responsibility for the impact our personal choices are having on the environment. Anything that makes us feel comfortable in that avoidance is enabling our avoidance so that we do not have to become responsible. At the root of these environmental issues is our spiritually lacking elitism. There is no way to resolve this spiritual problem without facing our own contribution to the problem and focusing on conferences like the one in Copenhagen become a distraction from developing the responsibility that is needed.

This is an alternative: Continue to stage events like those on the International Day of Climate Action, but request that the participants make a personal commitment to not eat meat grown on a factory farm, or buy any products that contributes to the destruction of rain forest, or commit in some other way to change their personal behavior in a meaningful way for the environment. Having participants of these events commit to changing how they live would convey the message that “I am willing to sacrifice my personal desires in order to resolve this problem.” It would also communicate what is really necessary to anyone that attends or hears about the event. People who live up to a commitment of personal change will have a much deeper impact on others including political leaders. It is what is necessary to produce a sense of solidarity in the environmental movement. Advertisement of these commitments opens up much more potent ways of initiating change than waiting for politicians to come to an agreement.

This is a good example of how spirituality and the interconnectedness of all things is something tangible, how the interconnectedness of all things is real because ignoring that interconnectedness produces a spiritual problem that can only be resolved by honoring the interconnectedness. It demonstrates that ignoring our interconnectedness is unsustainable because when we put our own personal desires ahead of spiritual equality nothing resolves the resulting problems before we start taking responsibility for our own actions. The reality is that ignoring interconnectedness is always unsustainable and always requires a realignment of our priorities in order to become sustainable.

It’s not the life that matters, but the courage we bring to it.

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2 Responses to “Spirituality, Equality Among Elitists”

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It seems that which people are truly seeking in the environmental movement is not related to environment at all; rather it stems from our lack of connection with All That There Is (otherwise known as the Universe). Unfortunately most of us lack the personal courage to create change in ourselves, so we have turned to government in hope that it will legislate change upon us in response to this perceived ecologic necessity. As you state, ignoring the interconnectedness of spirit, environment, commuinty, and personal well-being will always result in a search for balance.

Great post .. thanks

In this dream within a dream it is always a question of what we know to be real. We demonstrate which is more real by how we live. Is the importance of materialism more real than the environment? Consciously making change in ourselves is the spiritual path, and has to be learned.

We were not born here to leave unchanged from the experience or to leave this place unchanged by our passing.


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