Sunday, 25 December 2011

Let the New Year’s Resolution Be the New Year’s Revolution

I know that if you are reading this that chances are that compassion is in your daily meditations and that living a good life is the first thing you think about when waking up in the morning. This is a reminder that each time you act on the compassion you meditate upon you are participating in a revolution.

The war on poverty, the social movement on poverty, does not have to start at the steps of the capital in Washington and we don’t need to wait for our next trip to the voting booth to do anything about it. We can engage today.

Below are some popular 2012 new year's resolutions from USA.GOV. Most of them I would probably fail at, as my friends and family would tell you, but I try.

• Drink Less Alcohol
• Eat Healthy Food
• Get a Better Education
• Get a Better Job
• Get Fit
• Lose Weight
• Manage Debt
• Manage Stress
• Quit Smoking
• Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
• Save Money
• Take a Trip
• Volunteer to Help Others

For today, I will focus on doing a better job of helping others in 2012 than I did in 2011.

In recent years for me, before a deeper change in perspective, this meant giving a few hours for a cause and maybe even a whole overnight weekend at a homeless shelter here and there, but as I began to dig in to what others were doing around the modern world from the comfort of my climate controlled living space in front of a modern laptop computer my perspective widened even more.

This might mean different things to different people here in the United States but what has it meant for Buddhists around the world in recent pasts to help others?

For some of our brothers and sisters it meant and does mean:

Owning only a bowl and a robe
Sacrifice of Freedom
Sacrifice of Life

Let’s start with an economic catastrophe in 2007 that was induced by a military controlled government in Burma / Myanmar. Here the government was oppressing through taxation and giving a little bit back through fuel subsidies. The economy adapted this and suddenly subsidies went away. This, of course, wrecked the livelihood of the common people and started a non-violent movement known as the Saffron Revolution in Myanmar, where the proportion of military spending to the overall economy cannot be overstated.

Even though the populous revolution was non violent, people died and monks continue to be imprisoned and tortured.

People are equally suffering here in the United States outside of our front doors. When I look out my window I can see people sifting through the dumpsters and occasionally someone sits in the window seal outside of the Salvation Army operating hours to put their head in their hands.

We are in the midst of an economic catastrophe and we are empowered to change the impact. When I am short on money I try to invest in kindness.

Can I do more with my hands that fish for spare change to hand out on the streets after a walk to the grocery store? What can we do here in the United States between going to retreats and reading our quarterly journals?

The revolution has already started in kitchens and on doorsteps; it can move into our closets, our basements and garages. You might be shocked that it can even be started with your neighbors and co workers who are doing everything they can to keep from living on the streets when the next month’s housing cost is due.

We may not know each other, but we can do this together. Living by example, in unison, in the coming year can have a powerful impact and we may not even have to be in the same place at the same time to do it.

Consuming less and giving more can produce a social transition with the right numbers. For me, giving more also means also overcoming my fear of strangers so I can more effectively put in to practice what I put into blog posts.

Sean E Flanigan
Evanston, IL

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