I am all of these things and none of these things.

Satyagraha and What it means to Be the Change

As our nation gears up to enter another bombing campaign abroad, instead of doing the rage gives way to apathy thing, we've been thinking a lot about Gandhi's Satyagraha and what it means to truly "Be the Change."

The ubiquitous phrase dons everything from bumper stickers to coffee mugs, yet we rarely take the time to explore it. So, over the last couple months we've been taking that time and are beginning to think, the reason we integrate to forget is precisely because it's way harder than anything we've ever done before - definitely harder than blaming someone or something else. 

But if we are the change? Is that enough?

We recently had an interesting conversations with a group of anarchist friends about the "cop out" that "be the change" and conversations around nonviolence seem to imply politically.

Does "being the change" imply complacency? Does it require you to remove yourself from society and sit on a mountain? What is the element of doing the work that can feel like giving up on the world at large?

For Gandhi, Satyagraha went far beyond mere "passive resistance:"

"Truth (satya) implies love, and firmness (agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force. I thus began to call the Indian movement Satyagraha, that is to say, the Force which is born of Truth and Love or non-violence."

To "Be the Change" was a positive idea. Nonviolence wasn't simply the opposite of violence, it was the practice of love. It was love in action. Love permeating the way we act, the way we live. It was a radical idea that meant changing the way one engaged in the world, no matter what kind of self-sacrifice was required.

"In the application of satyagraha, I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and compassion. For what appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth, not by infliction of suffering on the opponent, but on oneself."

Being the change insisted personal discipline, seeking to rise above our own reactivity and coming to love or at least come to a compassionate understanding of our "opponent."

For Gandhi, being the change wasn't a slogan for self-improvement, but a way of actively engaging the world, breaking cycles of violence and providing a different way. Satyagraha, far from implying complacency, demanded action because being the change for the benefit of others meant standing up in the face of injustice.

And we come back to our vision for Soul Brunch, Artists Anonymous and all the community organizing that is to come.

We're thinking -

A community support network for the individual work we are doing on ourselves and in the world at large.

A space that empowers and inspires each other to keep going in the face of overwhelming issues we face as a global community.

A first step towards truly "being the change."

So as our nation prepares to wage another war, prosecutes whistleblowers, holds people indefinitely in Guantanamo, or in solitary confinement in Pelican Bay, rather than letting the rage bubble inside, or going numb and burying our heads in the sand, we are reminding ourselves that:

We are the ones we've been waiting for.

We hope you all will join us as we continue to work towards meaningful change in our lives and the world !

Militant LOVE aka satyagraha.


Proximity and Violence

Soul Brunch