Book Excerpt: What Makes People Take a Stand?
What makes an Activist? Why do some people speak?
Excerpt from Catherine Whelan Costen’s next book:
Do you ever wonder about the people, we consider heroes from our past? Do you ever wonder why someone would step out of a very comfortable life to speak up and take a stand for a better way for other people? Do you ever wonder why they didn’t just play it safe and enjoy their own lives and ignore the plight of others?
I wonder how it is that some people are so passionate about making the world a better place, while others either do not see, or simply ignore the discomfort and suffering in the world? This is not a judgment. It is a question.
Why did Gandhi do what he did even though the odds were clearly against him? He could have simply enjoyed his life. Sometimes people do something seemingly just for themselves; they take a stand because they are tired of being walked on, like Rosa Parks…she didn’t take a stand for all the world, she did it because she had had enough…it had a ripple effect and we all know it was pivotal in changing the way people saw inequality. Erin Brockovich took a stand, when the odds were clearly against her; she didn’t do it for a movie…she had no way of knowing they would make a movie about her activism.
What propels people to be concerned about the environment, human rights, freedom and fairness in the world? Why are some people comfortable just getting through life without making any waves, or are they simply afraid of going against the grain? I realize that many people simply do not know what to do, so they ignore it all. I also realize that not all change takes place due to speaking up or taking action in the public way. Much is done behind the scenes in very quiet ways; both for the greater good and sometimes not.
These are the questions that surface over and over again for me. How did we become so complacent? Why are there so few who are willing to take those risks and speak up when something is not fair, not humane, not healthy for the whole? I don’t believe we are sheep. I don’t believe we don’t care. I have a sense that we have been conditioned. I have a sense that the awareness we have about what happens to people who do stand up, the assassinations of very good people, the mysterious circumstances around various people’s deaths and the loss of jobs, or reputation that happens to many people when they do not follow the crowd, those are the psychological imprints that we as humans have been treated with over generations of lives. When I was in politics, (and even today) I was often cautioned not to speak out; because people feared for my safety. But I always remind people that there is only one way off this planet, we never go until it is our time and if someone decided to contradict God and end my time before I am ready, I will simply come back stronger than ever!
I remember being told as a very young girl, ‘do not make waves’! And I see that many have received the same message. So why is it that some people who also know that message chose to ignore it? Does it ever make you wonder what would happen if those individuals were many rather than few? Would the world be fairer for all, if many stood up? Or is there just too much fear? Or is it better to simply not think of it at all?
When I think about planet earth as the playground we all have been blessed to inhabit, only by that Grace of God (yes I do believe in God~I am not a fan of organized religion, my relationship with God is very personal) then I do not see why the earth itself should be controlled by a few, or why any people need be suffering in hunger or poverty or illness. When I see that a few prevent the many from thriving, that does not feel like something a Universal and loving God would ordain; which means that we have decided that we own the playground and that a few have the right to control all the toys and resources and instruct the many how we can play while we are here. That is a disconnect to me.
I do agree that what we focus on expands. I do agree that fear is contagious and so is love. But I also know that we can be aware of problems in the world, and address them with hope, with joy, with solutions and positive intentions. I see a split between those who focus only on the spiritual and believing positive thought alone is enough, and those who believe that fighting what we don’t want is the only answer.
I believe that if we applied spiritually positive intention to collective positive action, we would see a very different and joyful world. We cannot apply anything if we are ill informed or misled about what is really going on in our world. Unfortunately no one is going to feed us the truth, we are going to have to hunt and gather it for ourselves.
So often spiritual people think politics is dirty,corrupt and exclusive for the elite, while political people think spiritual people are not grounded in reality. Both are incredibly inaccurate generalizations. First of all, none of us can fit into one category alone. We are complex beings, not just the human body but all the other layers of energy, including that spark of Divinity. I think it’s time to create a bridge…not to bring religion into politics…but to bring human beings into reality using all of our tools, including our knowing of spiritual principles, our knowing of the systems of democracy and how they function or not, including what is blocking the flow of resources to the peoples of the globe, including what is contaminating our food supply and depleting our clean water, including what is the source of the rise in disease on the planet; we have a responsibility to be informed.
Recognizing our spirituality is not flaky or woo woo…it’s Not doctrine, not more rules, but simply to acknowledge that we have a right to be here on planet earth; a right to clean water, air, and healthy food, we have a right to thrive and enjoy the planet, whilst we also have the responsibility to protect and nurture the planet and the other life forms as well.
If we do not claim our rights and responsibilities then we become victims enslaved by the lies, which say that we are not worthy of the rights, nor capable of the responsibility. Collectively we have been ‘dumbed down’ to accept that we are just too immature, unintelligent and incapable of anything more than following a few who we have placed on very high pedestals…so high that we can’t even see who they are or what they are doing…yes just like the man behind the curtain who called himself a Wizard and had all the power…we bought it and then we fed it until we were burdened by an imaginary debt to that Wizard. But he is no more real than a Hollywood version of reality. It would be laughable if it were a movie…but alas it is not.
What kind of world do we want to give to our children? Real or imaginary?
When we realize we are all ONE and that any harm we do to this planet or our fellow humans, we are doing to ourselves; when we get that….that is when we shall see true change. Gandhi was a perfect example of a peaceful spiritual political activist and in my opinion he made a positive difference. He is only one but he changed the world. I wonder what many with that kind of heart could do?
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