From a human perspective, life is unjust. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, fires, landslides and tsunamis wipe out people, homes, animals and vegetation. Corporations pollute water and air, rape land, annihilate species, and deplete natural resources without conscience. The greedy and cruel abuse the innocent and helpless. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We lose our jobs. Accidents happen. Politicians lie. Ads lie. Big business lies. Religious authorities lie. Friends and lovers lie. How are we to handle the injustices of life?
Some escape through optimism, utopian fantasies, or denial. Some through addictions to work, food, exercise, drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, television, religion, the internet, or video games. Some grow bitter, cynical, or deeply depressed. A few commit suicide. Others dive into activism and take stands, stand in picket lines, join humanitarian missions, lead movements, raise funds, build houses, endow foundations, make donations, or volunteer in schools, hospitals, soup kitchens, nursing homes and political campaigns.
Obviously, addressing injustice directly is far more beneficial than ignoring it, but even social activism has a down side. One danger is that our cause can become a way of escaping our shadows. Have you ever known someone who can cry about the starving children in Africa but ignores her inner child who is starved for kindness and affection? Another danger is becoming so obsessed that we neglect our loved ones and responsibilities. Or we can experience physical burnout and a weakened immune system. Some sensitive souls absorb too much trauma and become overwhelmed with morbid fear and crippling anxiety or apathy. Others grow increasingly rude, hostile, and abusive. Where is the line between taking a stand and standing down? Here are a few thoughts. I invite you to add some of your own.
When we experience injustice I believe the most important thing we can do is allow ourselves to feel the normal emotions of rage, grief, helplessness, fear, frustration, or revenge without immediately acting on them. It takes enormous awareness and self-restraint to tolerate the pain and tension of injustice for very long, but if we act too quickly we risk hurting or taking advantage of others. Our first goal is to see the beliefs, attitudes and choices that led us into our situation because these are things we can change. For this we need time to rest and reflect until we feel clear-headed and emotionally stable enough to be objective. Only then will we be able to create a practical, ethical plan that serves self and other, justice and compassion.
If we observe injustice we need to find ways of helping that suit our gifts without betraying our conscience, trampling on anyone’s rights, or needlessly causing others pain. And unless we feel drawn to martyrdom, (and very few are genuinely called to go down that self-destructive road), we need to use methods that do not jeopardize our own lives, families, or livelihood. We need to listen to our bodies, know our limits and protect our boundaries; and we need to center ourselves in a meaningful practice that renews our energy and generates a loving, peaceful attitude.
May you trust the life around and within you to lead you to the unique contribution only you can make to righting the world’s wrongs, and may we all be part of the solution to injustice everywhere. Namaste.
Ego and God-Image: Part VII
Intellectually the Self is no more than a psychological concept, a construct that serves to express an unknowable essence which we cannot grasp as such,
What balanced wisdom you share with us.
YES, to every word you said inlcuding – “May you trust the life around and within you to lead you to the unique contribution only you can make to righting the world’s wrongs, and may we all be part of the solution to injustice everywhere. Namaste.”
Thanks Jeanie! Love, Sandy
Thank you, Sandy. It’s feels wonderful to have found a soul sister in you. I so appreciate your willingness to take the time to let me know of your support.
Beautifully spoken–like a polished mirror, you’ve reflected all the ugliness we face everyday, and cast it back with true humane objectiveness. Truth is beauty when spoken thus….
Although the question you raise is complex enough that I would not offer one response as an all-in-one tool, I have found Rollo May’s concept of “creative rage” useful in many such encounters with reality. Rage is appropriate, May concluded, if our outrage is for the injustices done to others—not those done to ourselves. Such outrage, he believed, found its vent in creative acts that ultimately benefited the whole.
I like this approach because it resonates with me on an intuitive level, focusing my energies on constructive acts aimed at resolving tensions in a sphere of activity greater than just my own. Like I said above, I’m not claiming this is a cure-all for every situation—it’s just one approach that kind of provides a nice guideline that fits with my peculiar disposition.
Isn’t it something how bringing out the ugliness we all face can evoke the beauty we all share?
It’s such a joy to take part in your investigations of the inner world!
All The Best To All Your Relations,
What a lovely idea: that ugly truth spoken with humanity and objectively is beautiful. I really like that. And I love it that you said it about my post!! Thank you.
I agree with you and Rollo May that creative rage is best channeled into righting injustices done to others. It’s extremly risky to direct our focus to avenging the injustices done to us because it’s too difficult to be objective and too easy to act from unrestrained emotion and narcissistic self-interest.
I have no doubt, however, that much, if not most of the creative rage we channel into righting injustices done to others has its source in our personal experiences of being wronged. I think what May may be saying is that authentic Spirit Warrior heroism lies in channeling the energy of our pain into causes that benefit all and not just ourselves.
Your pleasure in participating in my inner investigations is such a wonderful and unexpected gift to me. How extraordinary it is to have met so many like-minded journeyers by simply following my passion.
Absolutely fabulous, Jeanie!! I am sharing this message with friends. I find myself falling into anger, cynicism and then denial about many things…especially politics!! I have found my passion and voice for children and keep my focus on the one place where I think I can make a difference.
Thank you, Beth.
You certainly are making a difference at Cherokee Creek. It’s such a loving, elegant solution to a pervasive problem experienced by so many today.
We are both very fortunate to have found our passions. I don’t think either of us expected to be where we are now when we helped found The Matrix so many years ago. May we continue to grow in wisdom, and may our contributions be of true benefit.