Wholeness through Action

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The sage knows that his possessions are none, therefore he gives to the world; without recognition, doing his work.
Lao Tzu, The Tao Te Ching, Chapter 77

Faith that doesn’t lead us to do good deeds is all alone and dead! James 2:17 (CEV)

Many of us are in need of healing after being rent apart by family obligations and professional commitments. We are imposed upon to the point of physical exhaustion and emotional disintegration. We need time to be solely devoted to our own well-being, to nourish and revitalize ourselves. This comes by taking time out to minister to our bodies and interior life and by putting ourselves first.

That being said, though, we must be careful that we don’t swing the pendulum too far in the other direction. We run the risk of becoming selfish and self-centered. We become a universe of One, thinking only of our own needs and no one else. This can be profoundly detrimental to our well-being. There cannot be wholeness of being if we are out of balance in this way.

So I propose that there is healing in the act of stepping outside our personal universe and looking to others in need. There is wholeness in taking right action. We find a need or a cause outside ourselves and attend to it.

This doesn’t mean that we jump right into spending all our free time at the soup kitchen or immediately becoming the campaign manager of a local politician. But we can, little by little, do small things for the greater good. At the very least, we can become informed on issues of importance.

Here’s something each of us can try. Think of an area of great concern to us all and google it. Sift through the hits and learn as much as you can about the issue. Then, share what you learned with someone else.

For example, one global issue that burdens my heart is the vile practice of human trafficking. I know a bit about this issue because I have associates who are working to stop it. In order for me to be more supportive of their endeavors, I need to be better informed. Here are some sites I found on my web search that I want to share with you.

http://www.humantrafficking.org/
http://www.stophumantraffic.com/
http://www.childtrafficking.org/

We can also do more than be informed about an issue. We might actually take some small steps that contribute to the common good. For example, some friends and I had a discussion a few nights ago about how we might contribute to the fight on global poverty by purchasing more fair trade goods. It is well and good to be informed and discuss adopting this practice. The next step is to do it. I am beginning simply by looking for the Fair Trade designation on food products. I am now searching for retailers that sell affordable fair trade clothing. I found some online resources that I will investigate further in coming days:

http://www.fairtraderesource.org/
http://www.fairtradefederation.org/

Am I going to solve these great and terrible problems on my own? No, of course not. But I can step outside myself just a little bit and connect with others who are working towards the same goal. Do I run the risk of being a “latte-sipping liberal” who is trying to make myself feel better and not get my hands dirty in the process? Possibly, if I am not mindful and don’t heed the words of Lao Tzu, “…she gives to the world; without recognition.” I must remember to do this for others first, and not simply for myself.

Though simplistic, it is nonetheless true that by my taking these small steps towards healing myself, I contribute in a small way to the healing of the world. If I don’t exercise my calling, I am, as James writes, alone and spiritually compromised.

And this benefits no one.

Lori G. © 2007

Addendum:  On the side bar under under “Resource Links” there is a section called “For the Greater Good” where you will find more links to sites on fair trade, human trafficking, and sustainability.

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6 responses »

  1. Wonderful call to action Lori! I would add that simultaneously we need to learn to find the quiet center within ourselves and try to develop the practice of the Presence of the One, and to attempt always to work from that deep, inner sense no matter what we do or where we are. The single, best way I know from where we can learn to live from our Higher Selves is through the daily practice of meditation.

  2. Lori — Taking a conscious stand and expressing it as wholeness through action is our social responsibility. I see many conscious people in our culture today who are rich in spirit, drive and desire for something deeper. It’s such a gift when once awakened, we take a stand for all of humanity and then follow that up with action. Thank you for providing the links that can keep us all educated.

  3. Well and beautifully said, Lori. It is the small steps of many that make a difference eventually, isn’t it? Thank you for some new issues to be aware of, too.

  4. One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Theresa: “Maybe if I had not picked up that one person dying on the street, I would not have picked up the thousands”. Your call to taking little steps reminds me of that. Good writing, Lori.

  5. Sometimes the hurts and miseries of the world can be overwhelming but if we all do a part, where we are, a difference can be made. I have this quote in the front of my Bible, “Africa was full of people in need of help and there had to be a limit. You simply could not help everybody; but you could at least help those who came into your life. That principle allowed you to deal with the suffering you saw. That was your suffering. Other people would have to deal with the suffering that they, in their turn, came across.” Good job, Lori.

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