I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately. The word and this idea of social change. What does it mean to be a social change activist? Not very much, it seems. I say this wondering what is social change? I used to be satisfied that social change refers to changing how we live together. That rings hollow to me now. I’m no longer intent on giving rise to change. Instead, I’m intent on giving rise to freedom.
I exist, therefore I change. Life is like that. From one second to the next, everything is changing. Energy shifts, atoms appear and disappear. To say that I am creating change seems silly to me right now because whether or not I will it, change is constantly happening. Much of it is not consciously generated. Of course, living together differently requires changes; changes to our beliefs, assumptions and stories.
In my experience, changes in these realms happen in different ways, through disciplined practices of acceptance, inquiry, surrender and conscious creativity. And while, at different stages, some people might say “You’ve changed, Veena” At a fundamental level, I don’t believe it is true. That is, I am who I have always been: a mass of energy in constant motion. The wiring has changed, but the overall make up is the same. Masks have been taken off or have dissolved. Light has opened up darkness. From the darkness has emerged truth and this truth expands freedom.
I venture to believe that my shackles and your shackles are the same. I have been carrying beliefs, assumptions and stories that keep wounds open, give rise to pain and suffering. Haven’t you experienced this in one way or another?
When I am wounded and led by anger, fear and sadness, I often create beliefs, assumptions and stories that weave themselves into my relationships. They take forms which might include defensiveness, aggressiveness, distrust, distancing and manipulating my power (capacity to act) in order to constrain others.
In this way, I put shackles on my self – on my self who is compassionate, kind, caring, tender and eager to be in useful service to the world. Sometimes I give rise to a vicious circle. I sense I am constrained and then I get angry about being constrained and my creativity and power simply become more deeply rooted in fear and loathing.
Maybe, I could say I’m a root changer. Wanting to replace the roots of fear and loathing with roots of love and justice. Wanting radical – of the roots – change.
Ultimately, though, the intention of changing roots is to give rise to freedom. I am in an on-going process of liberating my self; freeing my self to step fully into my potential as a human being committed to a daily practice of cultivating love and justice.
I, you, the person over there – we are all in a state of constant change. How freely we move, that is what varies. Moment by moment we make choices – consciously or unconsciously. The more conscious we are, the more free we are in our choices. We can choose to alleviate suffering, to honor and respect one another and the planet, to create nourishing rather than toxic relationships.
What shackles are constraining your freedom?
I’ve been thinking about this too…whether, as people who are capable of imagining, awakening, and exploring possibility, we become examples of people who can live with change, rather than anything else?
This year, I have been watching how people who ask questions about the world, and then seek out answers create new possibility, and live out their agency via imagination. A bit like the story of the holy grail, where questioning brings moistness and life to what was once barren.
Nicci – Thanks for this comment! I like this idea of living out one’s agency through questions and imagination. Reminds me of Rilke’s directive to live the questions. In solidarity. Veena