ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Expanding Awareness for a Change of Heart

Updated on April 15, 2013
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Source

There are many things about the world which apparently need to be changed - to protect the vulnerable from abuse, to prevent gross injustice, to provide for better lives.

It seems reasonable that sometimes force is required to make needed change. Yet forced change creates counter-forces which bubble and boil beneath the surface until they burst out again in violence.

Although the use of anger, aggression or force to bring social change may seem justified, are the underlying causes ever addressed? Or does the use of force to plug one hole in the dam just open another?

"The old saw is that 'violence doesn't solve anything.' Maybe not, but it can sure transform existing problems into different ones," Doc Snow says.

Is that what we, the human race, want - just to transform existing problems into different ones?

Or would most of us go to the root of issues and at least explore how peaceful, lasting changes can be accomplished?

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

The saying, “be the change you wish to see in the world” is attributed to Gandhi but seems to have been written by a marketing person to fit onto a bumper sticker. The closest documented quote from Gandhi is “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.”

As the writer of a NY Times commentary pointed out, there is no suggestion in Gandhi's words that personal transformation is enough to change the world. Rather, it goes hand-in-hand with social transformation. Either one without the other is empty and futile.

Social transformation without personal transformation will always be trading one problem for another. However, the evidence of personal transformation is in social transformation. That is, the "ordinary" actions of a transformed individual will expand social awareness in the natural course of events.

Falser Words Were Never Spoken by Brian Morton

Aesthetic Creativity and Noble Virtues

Sure, there are things I would change in human behavior to make a more nurturing environment for aesthetic creativity and noble virtues.

Seeing the suffering in the world around me, I wonder why there has not been more spiritual evolution in the 50,000 or more years of humanity's walk on the earth. The light of the world is constantly present, yet veiled by the untransformed human ego.

No one can make another person grow in strength and maturity to go through the challenges of an unripened ego. It can only come from within each individual.

This hub was originally sparked by a question on Hubpages about what changes one would make if their words had 'absolute sway.'

To 'make another person' change would not respect that everyone has their own path and timing. I would not overrule the beliefs and choices of another even if I had the power -- except in situations where guided by intuition to do so, in the moment.

I have learned to not attempt to sway others, rather to go through my own processes of growing in spiritual maturity and writing from the heart. That also happens to be the best I can do 'for the world.'

No More War

One day a few years ago, as Kati and I walked through the town of Ojai, California, we saw war protesters dressed in black and holding signs stating "No More War!"

I engaged a demonstrator in conversation. She was full of bitter anger towards her world and the nation.

I said to her, "Have you considered that your anger feeds the same energy that you protest against?"

She put down her sign, looked me in the eyes and said, "Thank you."

She is one person who grew into greater awareness and made a shift in herself to not use bitterness and anger to make a stand against what feels wrong to her.

When I look back over my life, there are three events which stand out as examples of how one person following his heart and passions can make changes for the better without even trying. Each time it happened through writing that brought greater awareness. They were shifts of awareness in local settings, but the same principle of expanding awareness applies to a larger scale. In those early years, though, I had not yet learned to shift my own energy from protest and feeling important to wisdom and understanding. I will tell one of the stories here.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Scans of the article published on the front page of the Sunday, June 14, 1970 Coloradoan. Thanks to Yvonne Keefe and the ladies of the Fort Collins Museum and Library for searching the microfilms and printing the copies.
Scans of the article published on the front page of the Sunday, June 14, 1970 Coloradoan. Thanks to Yvonne Keefe and the ladies of the Fort Collins Museum and Library for searching the microfilms and printing the copies.
Scans of the article published on the front page of the Sunday, June 14, 1970 Coloradoan. Thanks to Yvonne Keefe and the ladies of the Fort Collins Museum and Library for searching the microfilms and printing the copies. | Source

A Story of Expanding Awareness

As a teenager, I was generally a loner. After my older brother died in a car accident, I became more withdrawn in my own world. Dad let go of his resistance to my having a dog, and she became my closest friend and constant companion.

I often "skipped school" and spent the day with Kiche, walking in an area of gravel pits fed by a creek of clear mountain water. It was private land, corporately owned and leased by farmers, and we were trespassing (I later obtained permission.) We watched muskrats swimming across the ponds, turtles sunning themselves on the warm rocks and caught glimpses of red foxes and bull snakes. Red-tailed hawks hunted for field mice and the trills of songbirds played like background music of an unfolding drama. The stately forms of great blue herons glided across the sky and landed in the shallows to feed on the fish and frogs.

Kiche may not have noticed that I mused towards the peaks of the Rockies in the distance and felt nourished by the harmony of nature. We camped overnight at times, lying together on a bedroll under the brilliant starry sky.

It seemed that the farmers, who made their living from the resources of nature, were not aware of nature as a living being. They dumped their garbage into one of the ponds, leaving it in piles along the banks. Somehow I avoided seeing the farmers, and they me, over the years as I continued to walk amongst the ponds through my middle and high school years. Sometimes Kiche and I met sheep grazing, but there were no other signs of humans than the barbed wire fences and piles of trash.

One springtime, a pair of Canada geese nested on an island in one of the ponds. Seeing the nesting geese and the trash heap polluting their pond, I was moved to write about the gravel pits and submit the story to the city newspaper, the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

It was more than forty years ago, but the part I remember most clearly is pulling the Sunday paper from the stand and seeing my story with a photo of the nesting geese, on the front page.

A few weeks later, I was invited to attend a meeting on the campus of Colorado State University. The men asked me what I felt should be done about the gravel pits. With passion, I shared a vision for protecting the wildlife and making the area accessible to the public.

I did not hear about the gravel pits again until....

Years later, on a visit to my hometown, I stopped by the ponds east of town. All around the old gravel pits there are now office buildings. To my pleasure, though, a bicycle and pedestrian path circles them. The entire area of hilly fields and cattail ponds was purchased by the city and has been set aside as a nature preserve.

Footnote:

The exact date of the article publication is foggy in my memory. A friend in Fort Collins has been diligently searching through the microfilm archives of the city museum whenever she has free time. When the article is found, a scanned image will become part of this hub.

Foot-footnote: Yvonne found the article and it is posted above. I had forgotten some of the details of the Coloradoan article, such that I researched the ownership of the land, met with owners, and had encounters with farmers. It was a delight to browse the article again after 42 years.

More

Another example of social change that was sparked by the written word comes from a story heard when Kati and I were houseparents for individuals with developmental disabilities. In a time of ignorance, when this population was removed from sight in America and housed in institutions, a visiting European outraged by the inhumane living conditions wrote in a letter to the editor, "We give better care to our animals than the Americans give to their own people."

According to what we were told, this set in motion major changes and resulted in bringing these individuals out of institutions and into residential communities across the country. Some of our experiences as houseparents are written in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Allow the Unexpected to Happen.

A hub on how the written word sparked an unparalleled wilderness adventure and life-shaping events: Return to the River of No Return.

When has the written word sparked change?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      I agree that there are many wonderful moments, they always happen and keep happening.

      Comparing past to present, the changes we're talking about would be very hard to measure. Comparing present to the ideal vision that people spoke and sung about - "This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius - Harmony and Understanding / Sympathying and trust abounding / no more falsehoods and derisions"; on a political level: an end to war and violence; on an economic and justice level: water, sanitation, food, health, and education for all; on a social justice level: civil rights and equal opportunity for all" - these dreams were not realized on a practical level.

      For the US, there is a measure of emotional intelligence (civility and profesisonalism vs. interpersonal violence) that shows it is declining every 10 years. For global society, chattel slavery (legal ownership of human beings), which was nearly eliminated, is on the rise.

      These are the kinds of things I am talking about - but, as we both agree, rather than trying to grasp a global vision - let us share love in each moment and trust the flow of Life.

      I believe that, in many ways, the energy available to each person is increasing.. But I believe that energy is fundamentally neutral. Some will use it, as you and I do, to create greater harmony for all in our sphere. Others will use it to create more powerful destruction, others will be negligent of it and it will waste away, or bottle up and explode.

      Let us lead in the healthy, loving, wise use of energy by example: Living our truth, fully inhabiting our role, and so being a gift to the world and an example of how each person can do this, fulfilling Spirit's peace and Soul's mission.

    • Emanate Presence profile image
      Author

      Gary R. Smith 3 years ago from the Head to the Heart

      Hi Sid,

      I mulled over your comment, 'we've been slipping for the last 20 years into less love and more violence, less shared prosperity, more poverty, injustice, and environmental destruction. That's sad.'

      How are those things measured? Are there statistics showing less love?

      If you refer to statistics on violence, are they by country or worldwide?

      I am pretty much uninformed by daily news, though I catch glimpses.

      You may be right about the trend overall, I don't know. Also it would be more in context if the statistics are per capita, as the human population is of course also growing. I am not defending human behavior, just wanting to see it from a rounder view.

      Also, not to paint a picture through rose-tinted glasses, but there are so many stories of real love and compassion, which are not widely known. One great example is written in our hub, 'When a Man is a Hero.' There are many more such true stories, from Kati's and my experiences over the past 13 years, still unwritten. I like to see the shadows with neutrality (not to give them energy when it is not useful) and focus on the light, bringing it more to the forefront.

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Thank you once again, Emanate. We are in complete harmony here. I've always understood "Be the change you want to see in the world" to be the same as the full Gandhi quote - but I studied Gandhi in depth, so the interpretation is natural. It never occured to me that one could see it otherwise. Thanks for opening my eyes on that.

      If you take a 50,000 year perspective, humanity is actually doing pretty well. There's very little cannibalism these days, way down from even 5,000 years ago. Minor crimes such as petty theft are usually not punished with imprisonment, the cutting off of a hand, or death. Even debtors prison is gone, and chattel slavery is way down.

      Now, we know the size of the world and have a sense of all that is in it. The notion that all men and women are brothers and sisters has new meaning.

      At the same time, we've been slipping for the last 20 years into less love and more violence, less shared prosperity, more poverty, injustice, and environmental destruction. That's sad.

    • Born2care2001 profile image

      Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 4 years ago from Asheville NC

      Fabulous Hub!

      After this 3rd attempt to post a response I realized the Gods were editing my thoughts to you. This incredible hub inspired passion and compassion and I agree with Billybuc about the company you are keeping!

      Thank you for the links as well. The meaning behind your words is exquisite and oh, so necessary.

      My final comment before the Gods edit me again is "we are kindred souls." I felt this when you wrote, "I have learned to not attempt to sway others, rather to go through my own processes of growing in spiritual maturity and writing from the heart. That also happens to be the best I can do 'for the world.''

      My quest is to influence others to self examination. Beyond that, I trust the Source of All Being for the result!

      I am grateful that you "Emanate Presence"

      Voted so up and sharing!

    • Born2care2001 profile image

      Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 4 years ago from Asheville NC

      Dear Emanate Presence,

      It is truly an honor to read, ponder and deliberate over this well written and expressed hub. We are brother souls, unique in our being yet connected by the spirit of discovery and peace.

      After I read your profile I carefully chose one of your hubs, this one, to begin to uncover the person behind the words. I knew after your question and comment about the drum circles that our hearts and minds would crisscross time and space.

      When you wrote, "I have learned to not attempt to sway others, rather to go through my own processes of growing in spiritual maturity and writing from the heart. That also happens to be the best I can do 'for the world.'" it resonated so much because this has been my path. For years my ego wanted to change the world to match its sincere by misdirected ideology. Like you, though perhaps on a different schedule, I am learning that true peace, individually and collectively can only be achieved within the heart of each individual.

      Though I would agree that I cannot change anyone but me, I know, and this is my quest, that I can and must influence others to take a long, hard look at themselves. If they do, I am confident that self examination will produce some illumination. The result belongs to them.

      I am grateful, indeed, for your "Emanate Presences" here. Not only on Hubpages as a fellow writer, but in this world as a fellow human being, a spirit in search of themselves, ever expanding, yet gracious and aware!

      Thank yo my friend,

      Rev. B. Stuart Noll

      aka Born2care2001

      Just call me Bruce

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      The words you used to the young protester were what her heart yearned for. This is a beautiful hub. Words are life changing. I am delighted you use yours for positive.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      What a beautifully written hub. I am going to enjoy following you, and I see you hang with a great crowd....those who commented before me are some of my favorite Hubbers and dear online friends. Raise and expand awareness....what a unique concept. :)

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Let's kill all the violent people, take everything from all the greedy people, and torture and humiliate all the disagreeable people to make them agreeable like us.

      You're right -- let's not.

      Up, Useful, Interesting, Beautiful, and shared with followers and on social networking sites. Thanks for the insightful, good sense article.

      A good book on personal spiritual / character growth and progressive social change happening together through our choices is SOUL OF A CITIZEN by Paul Rogat Loeb.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      This hub holds such a powerfu message of hope and action. One person really can make a difference in this world. The videos you added really bring the point home.

      I thank Eddy for bringing me to this most important message. And I thank you for putting pen to paper.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Hi again; I so enjoyed this hub and you speak so much truth.

      I guess wherever we live in the world there isn't a great deal of difference as not all but many farmers here in Wales do not see nature around then as living beings to be respected. Their animals are just money making machines .

      I especially liked this paragraph;-

      "Years later, on a visit to my hometown, I stopped by the ponds east of town. All around the old gravel pits there are now office buildings. To my pleasure, though, a bicycle and pedestrian path circles them. The entire area of hilly fields and cattail ponds was purchased by the city and has been set aside as a nature preserve."

      That is wonderful and thank you for sharing and enjoy your day. Here I vote up,across and share all around. Enjoy your day.

      Eddy..

    Click to Rate This Article