The many facets of activism

8 April 2010

The Findhorn Foundation’s Inspired Action conference has not only proved an inspirational call to arms, but has shown that activism has many faces and can be subtle or dramatically obvious.

David Nicol, director of the Gaiafield Centre for Subtle Activism at the California Institute of Integral Studies, opened the discussion, spotlighting the idea of supporting global transformation through practices of spirit or consciousness.

An obvious example of this concept of subtle activism is a meditation for world peace involving thousands or even millions of people. Recently we have also seen large sectors of humanity united in prayers for those suffering in the wake of the devastating Haitian earthquake.

David Spangler, who has remained one of the community’s driving spiritual forces since first living in Findhorn in the early 1970s, described more individual forms of subtle activism and examined the ethics of mobilising subtle and unseen transformative forces.

Academic, writer and activist Alastair McIntosh outlined the campaign in which interesting and innovative tactics ultimately blocked Lafarge, the world’s biggest cement producer which is responsible for an estimated 0.5% of world carbon dioxide emissions, from creating a ‘superquarry’ in the national scenic area of the Scottish Isle of Harris.

He was subsequently invited to help the company develop its corporate social responsibility policies, but maintains his independence and credibility by rendering an unpaid service.

Looking at how individuals can make a difference in the world, he said they should not be discouraged if they didn’t have a grand vision.

Chatting after his formal presentation, he told me: “Making a difference means connecting our inner lives with outward action in service of the poor or the broken in nature. We need constantly to discern our calling in a cycle of action-reflection-action. That means learning how to ‘feed the hungry’, ourselves included.

“Don’t be put off by not having a grand vision. Find the bigger picture in community with others. And don’t wallow in the thought that you have nothing to offer. Seek out the simple honest work that others may avoid. Consider altitude. God has angels enough above, but could do with a helping hand below.”

Geoff Dalglish

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