Feeling Good, Doing Good: An SBNR Approach to Social Change
You’ve probably heard the Gandhian maxim “Be the change you want to see in the world.” But have you ever asked why has this swept the cultural imagination? What is so compelling about this message?
While I am no expert on Gandhi, I have a pretty good idea of why it is so popular with westerners.
We live in an individualistic culture that places a high value on personal development. We also live in a very dangerous and immensely complicated time with mind boggling amounts of information about mind-numbingly depressing scenarios. It’s just overwhelming. The solution? Start at our cultural ground zero–the self–and work from there.
This converges with another increasingly popular western idea namely that God is inside you. By this measure, one can be godly because one has access to God all the time. It is not easy mind you because the lower instincts get in there with messages of competition and survival of the fittest, which does not breed much in the way of compassion. But if in theory one could elevate their consciousness to the level of Gandhi, then one would be able to achieve the things that Gandhi did, and go about it the way he did (non-violently).
So being the change you want to see is about taking small workable steps towards healing a world in crisis. It is about claiming the self as the seat of power, and using that for good. In truth, cultivating the virtues of an awakened being is a pretty tall order for most people. Most SBNRs are pretty down to earth and don’t expect their daily meditation to solve climate change, but they do believe that being spiritual is a public service. Creating and sustaining states of love, joy, peace and surrender are believed to heal the collective.
In the meantime, many SBNRs also get involved with environmental groups, and take hands on measures to help others and restore harmony in the world around them. Don’t believe me? Just go to www.lohas.com.