Hope, Faith and Activism
by Stephen Longfellow Fiske
As we continue into 2016, we find ourselves poised on the cusp of the most momentous shift of consciousness in the history of humanity. We are now global; a global economy, global communication grid, global warming, global survival. We now must finally awaken to the reality that we are stewards and caretakers of the Earth, of our life support system, and our continued existence on this planet depends on revolutionizing the way in which we live together within our common ecosystem. The old order of embattled, warring nation states, of an economic system based on fossil fuel addiction and exploitation and decimation of resources and species, of patriarchal dominance, of the greed and entitlement of colonial/capitalistic empire building, of economic disparity and inequity, of hatred, mistrust and inhumanity, is unsustainable and must inevitably give way to a new order. As in any cusp, the transition from the old to the new is fraught with extreme tensions and tug of wars, as the old clings and fights for its survival, and the new forges forth and fights for its arrival.
The hope must be in the arrival of the sustainable new, built on a holistic consciousness that embraces the rich diversity of creation and reaches for the unity that underlies and moves through all creation.
As we look back at 2015 , we see a year beset by heartbreaking tragedies that has left the world reeling. It seems, especially since 911, each year has seen the collective consciousness of our planet becoming more and more fearful and traumatized.
We are living through a time of terrorist attacks, ongoing war, mass shootings, genocides, massive refugee crises, environmental disaster, nuclear madness, overpopulation, growing economic disparity, racial and religious radicalism, human rights atrocities – on and on with no end to the needs to meet and the changes to make, to survive and better our world. No wonder we can feel overwhelmed with a sense of helplessness in this tsunami of concerns, and to be at a loss where some semblance of hope can be found. The US has been at war for fourteen years, at a growing cost of multiple trillions and continuous catastrophic calamity. We are all impacted by the way the world is spiraling, and we are all the ones who must turn the situation around.
It has always been a grass roots movement of the people, enrolled in a significant consciousness shift, that has created a new paradigm. The movement towards American democracy began as a grass roots revolution against the oppression of colonial monarchy. The suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, and even the movement into the computer age, all began with the advent of a new idea, a social need to have that idea be fulfilled, and the timing and historic circumstance to propel it into a transformative reality.
Here and now, in the face of a world spiraling out of control based on the old dying order, at a time when we are propelled into an evolutionary awakening based on our very need for survival, is where we must catalyze and grasp a new vision and a new hope for our future.
Hope is about fulfilling a desire you wish to manifest.
The first place we must look for hope is within ourselves. If we are engaged in a spiritual practice of integrating health of body, mind and spirit, so that we cultivate a positive attitude towards living, and develop a purpose and mission that engages our creativity in life affirming endeavors, then hope and positive outlook comes naturally. A strong foundation of spirituality and faith can see us through even the roughest of times.
Personally, I don’t adhere to an anthropomorphic God or a particular denominational perspective. I am rather, a spiritual eclectic, drawing sustenance from multiple religious and cultural sources. As an Interfaith Minister, I believe there is a common spirit, a creative life force that flows through every heart beat and every breath of every soul on this planet, and enlivens consciousness to awaken. And within that awakening there is a calling. And that calling, I believe, must be in the practical reality of our common human survival, and on the side of what is good and just for the long term best interests of all. Just as every seed is encoded with the potential to fulfill its blossoming, each human being is gifted with talents, skills, and intelligence, encoded to fulfill his or her blossoming. Within that blossoming is the spirit that brings us to life, to dance in the miracle of existence, to hope, to dream and to create new and better ways to build a peaceful and sustainable future.
Through that spirit, hope can strengthen into faith. Faith is the absolute surety that spirit will ultimately guide us to our own best outcome, where the “better angels” of our conscience will win out and where that blossoming will occur. Faith is often connected to a belief in God, but if one doesn’t believe in a specific God, we can take faith in the surety that every day brings a new opportunity to grow, to learn, to recharge our health and wellbeing, to engage in meaningful interactions, to overcome our challenges, to heal our wounds, and to serve and help the world flourish.
That service entails activism. Activism calls us to use our voice. If we just stand by without speaking out, without participating actively in a cause we believe in, we can become complicit in the perpetration of the unconscionable. In activism, we bear witness to what is going on, observe and expose where a blindness, a denial, an injustice, inequity or crime has occurred, and organize, mobilize and engage in recognizing the dilemma, bringing accountability, offering alternatives, and in creating solution. The activism must get in the way to disrupt the corruption, and strategize how to raise public awareness in identifying the change that’s needed, and present viable ways to impact policy. No one individual can tackle all the issues of the world, but if we choose one or two that we feel most directly connected to, then we can join others in those causes, and feel a sense of positive engagement that we are making a difference. In this presidential election year, the voices of progressive, spiritual activism has never been more needed, as our activism calls us to use our voice, our vote, and to serve the calling of our conscience.
In this world which seems so divided and tormented, I see areas of development and movement that are ground for hope, strengthening faith, and engagement of activism.
- The environmental movement; The basic message of the environmental movement is to wake up to the reality that everything within the ecological system of our planet is interconnected, that the earth is a living organism that supports and sustains all life, there is no away to throw anything, and that the rapid conversion from fossil fuels to renewables is absolutely critical in this era of global warming. This interconnectedness of all life is an ecological and scientific fact, as well as a spiritual understanding basic to our co-existence and to building a sustainable future.
- The global communication grid; With the advent of the internet and social media platforms, we have more access to more information, more instantaneous connectivity to each other worldwide than ever before. It has opened the lines of communication from people of all walks of life that normally wouldn’t have connected before. This brings a dynamic sense of inclusiveness and pluralism to each individual, community, and nation on the world stage.
- The rise of the feminine movement; Breaking down the dominant father syndrome. breaking down the idea that God is only a masculine entity. breaking down the patriarchal system and the culture of the alpha male masculine predator, conquerer and empire builder. We must have balance of the masculine and feminine in order to achieve a peaceful, sustainable future.
- The equality of rights movement. Woman’s rights, gay rights, Interracial marriage, same-sex marriage, Black Lives Matter, not stigmatizing, marginalizing, and targeting the “other”, justice in the law, respecting the dignity and rights of the “other.” This also includes species rights and environmental rights.
- Anti-Citizens United Movement to restore First Amendment Constitutional rights to people, not corporations, and prevent the continued corporate takeover of democracy.
- The organic, vegetarian and health food movement. Liberating ourselves from the dietary catastrophe of fast food, processed foods, GMO-plagued foods, factory farmed, corporate foods rich in fats, sugar and additives, and breaking away from the murderous genocidal animal slaughtering industry.
- The respect for indigenous peoples and their wisdom movement; Understanding that so many of the indigenous people that the colonial and imperialist powers have conquered and decimated, and who have had their rights and dignity violently violated , and are continuing to be oppressed, possess knowledge and wisdoms pertaining to closeness to the land, natural remedies and medicines and a deep commitment to living as one with the earth.
- The Yoga movement. Teaches the holistic framework for living in peace within ourselves and each other. It connects us to meditative, reflective and deeper understandings of who we are and why we are here on Earth and provides body/mind/spirit practices to help discover and live within this understanding.
- The Peace movement. Although it may seem that the Peace movement is futile in a world dominated by war and violence, the Peacemakers have always held fast and true in the righteous vigilance for justice , bearing witness, seeking understandings across differences, seeking non-violent alternatives to problem solving. and keeping the faith and actions going that peace will one day prevail.
- The Interfaith movement. The Interfaith movement is about building bridges across difference and learning how to share the universal spirit that is called the various names and forms of God. It sees all people, religious and non-religious, as the human family, sharing the gift and blessing of life on this planet, building a sustainable future of peace. The Interfaith Movement has been growing in the last few decades and is gaining momentum as the big tent inclusive of all these movements mentioned heretofore.
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