Watching the news recently, I was moved to tears during footage of the devastation in the Gulf of Mexico.
Remembering Alys’s great article Exposing oneself to the news – what’s the real story?, I was mindful of staying open and non-judgmental of what I was watching.
I wanted to be able to see what was truly going on, beyond ignorance or avidya.
As I watched, an angry man flashed before the screen and said:
Shame on you BP!
The news shifted to the latest political goings-on about who was to blame.
It’s BP’s fault.
No, it’s the government’s fault.
No, it’s Obama’s fault.
Watching without despairing, without feeling outrage, without getting upset was so liberating. Calm acceptance of what was, mixed with compassion gave me a sense of clarity.
And one thought above all popped up.
- Who amongst us has never traveled in a vehicle powered by petrol (or gas)?
- Who amongst us has never owned, nor used, something made of plastic?
- Who amongst us has never used a computer?
Then let him or her cast the first stone.
This event is the responsibility of all of us, and it is up to all of us to come up with a solution.
Blaming and shaming will never save a single bird from death by oil.
It is a waste of time, a waste of energy, and it is symptomatic of fear.
In a world run by oil, it was only a matter of time before another accident blighted mother nature. To pretend otherwise is to live in ignorance or avidya. Devastation such as that wrought in the Gulf of Mexico is just the cost of doing business – oil business. It’s what we pay for our cheap energy at the gas station.
So what do we do? How do we respond?
Maybe we could start asking ourselves a few more questions before diving into producing/mining/digging/drilling more and more things.
- If plastic is such an indestructible wonder of engineering… where’s all the no-longer-useful plastic going to retire to?
- If we make our products out of cheaper and cheaper materials so that it’s not worth fixing them when they break down and people can just afford to buy another and another one… what happens to all the trashy appliances we no longer need?
- If we start drilling for oil in the ocean, and something goes wrong and it starts gushing out like crazy…. do we have some way of cleaning it up?
- If we measure the success of a nation by it’s GDP growth… are we in fact likening people to a cancer because cancer is the only thing that grows and grows and grows with no heed to the sustainability of it’s environment… until one day it kills it’s host and therefore itself?
Or how about this kind of question…
- Why do we assume that more money equals more happiness when we KNOW that beyond the basic poverty line, more money doesn’t really change people’s experience of life at all?
- If what changes people’s daily experience of life is whether or not they feel empowered, whether or not they are healthy, whether or not they are passionate about what they do with their time, whether or not they love and are loved… why do all our companies and governments focus on making more money?
- What for?
- Isn’t about time we shifted our focus from all the money we can make, to the type of world we can create?
‘Cos with all this focus on creating money… we’ve created devastation in the Gulf. Death and destruction.
And man… I drive, I use plastic, I own a computer. I’m to blame. My practice of yoga has taught me that there is no separation between me and the other. It’s taught me that we truly do reap the rewards of our actions – when we act out of greed, we upset balance and this has a cost far greater than the money our greed may garner.
It’s why hate will never counteract hate. Actions taken with judgment, with blame, with hate, with an idea that there is an ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ just perpetrate the cycle of violence. I saw this in the coverage of the marches against Israel on the news this weekend.
People burning flags, people speaking words of hatred, people condemning… I mean, co’mon people! Can’t we grow up already? Since when did hate plus hate equal peace and love? It ain’t going shift the dynamic that’s being experienced.
We need to get creative, compassionate, passionate, unidentified with ‘points of views’ about what is right and what is wrong if we want to shift our experiences on this planet.
The situation in Israel and Palenstine is not about who is right and who is wrong… there’s nothing to be gained from trying to work that out, or agree on that. Instead we need to ask ourselves, how can we let go? How can we forgive? How can we respect each other? How can we rebuild our communities based on trust, compassion and understanding?
It’s easy for me to pontificate from my cosy, warm lounge in Dunedin, New Zealand. None of my family has been killed by another army, rebel, terrorist, soldier, fanatic, righteous one. Yet history has proven over and over and over again that non-violence, acceptance, compassion and love has the power to change the world.
Ghandi. Martin Luther King. Mother Theresa. Nelson Mandela.The Dali Lama.
- We know what it takes to bring about true change. We know who we must be. So what’s stopping us?
- Why do we still blame the Oil Giants when we are the ones who buy their products?
- Why do we condemn the actions of others with the same hate that those others have used against us?
- Who is going to change the world if not us?
- Who are we waiting to lead us?
Every day offers us opportunities to live from a place of love, compassion, understanding and peace. Every interaction we have with other people provides a chance to practice. This is our yoga just as much as going to class is our yoga.