The Quickest Path To Human Liberation Is…

One of the most intriguing realizations I have come to from the broad range of conversations in the tipping series is this: While there does seem to be an element of universality in the impulse to ‘change the world for the better’, agreement eludes even the most enlightened thinkers on how to actually make the great shift.

Through these interviews I have found two general types of people passionate about global transformation:  activists and spiritualists.  While certainly not the only categories of change-makers around, these two ideologies stand out as containing critical pieces of code for how to make sustainable change on the planet.  And unfortunately, they are often at odds with one other.

This has always bothered me, and today I am sharing two videos that typify each of these worldviews.  My hope is to shine a bright light on the disparity between activists and spiritualists because if we are going to really tip this thing, and put an end to things like social injustice, planetary destruction, and war then integration between these powerful worldviews is necessary.
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Activism: We Must Go Forth And Eradicate All Evil

The first video has swept the world garnering almost 80 million YouTube views in its first week.  Wow.  Titled “Kony: 2012” this 30 minute film intends to light a fire within us to capture and imprison Uganda’s most feared terrorist: Joseph Kony:

You can really feel the energy in the Kony: 2012 video, no?  The message hits our emotions, tugging at our heartstrings with the filmmaker’s personal story of his Ugandan friend and the sharing of his own son to frame out the message.

The second video is a 20-minute clip created by someone named Lee Harris, which frames out a deeper, more spiritual understanding of our current moment in time.  This video delves into the actual experiences so many millions of us are having, providing a more spiritual and uplifting lens to comprehend the chaotic nature of present-day reality:

After watching these two videos, do you see a common thread in terms of intention (the world needs some serious changing) but vast differences in terms of approach and action plan?

The activist message seems to say ‘let’s go out and fight injustice, overcome it with sheer numbers and force’ while the spiritual message recommends us to fully surrender to what exists in the present moment, and ‘work on ourselves, feel our emotions, get our bodies in great shape, and generate compassion for everything around us’.

Activists feel the urgent need to go out and set the world on fire.  They have great energy and creativity, shining clear beams of light on the problems in the world while inviting us into their particular causes for social change.

Spiritualists sense that in order for things in the outside world to fundamentally shift a critical mass of individuals need to make the necessary changes within themselves.  Simply going out and setting the world on fire won’t work unless enough people have looked inside themselves and lit those fires internally.

But which approach is right, and what is the fastest, least messy way to create a world where war, starvation, and genocide are ancient history?

Like the question itself there may be no linear answer, and perhaps the very process of contemplation and inquiry is what pushes us forward into new and unforeseen areas of resolution.

The key is to find a middle ground between the two (and not only between spiritualists and activists, but between all such dichotomies), because while no single approach is exclusively ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ we will all be better served to understand how each piece is relevant.
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Where Activism Fails and Why Kony: 2012 Can Never Work

I spoke with a good friend who is a psychotherapist in San Francisco.  While being sympathetic to the plight of the 30,000 children and horrific acts of cruelty happening in Uganda, she told me that atrocities just like this are happening right here in San Francisco, and all over the United States, every single moment of the day.

I wondered about the massive viewership of the Kony video.  90 million people were inspired to pass along and share this message about events in Uganda, an area of the world they will never visit, while similar atrocities exist each and every day in our own backyards with little-to-no notoriety.

activist2-150x150Like many activist projects this film aims to create a ‘movement’ to stop Joseph Kony, compelling us to join a fight that in some way represents our own values.  While I completely agree that people like Joseph Kony need to have a bright light shined on them, I also see powerful activist messages like these as distractions.  Yes, distractions.

While there is war in Uganda, there is also war in San Francisco and in every town in the western world.  If we are brave enough to take an even closer look we realize that many of us are at war with our families, at war with our friends and lovers, and most of all at war with ourselves.

The blatant truth is that most people on the planet do not want to deal with their own pain and suffering, and we relieve ourselves by transmuting personal anxieties into other areas.  We have become a culture of transference, never taking accountability for how our individual lives play a role in the greater realities surrounding us.