Let’s Get Together

I think an oft-ignored aspect of our spiritual lives is how our beliefs shape our choices, especially when it comes to careers or important hobbies.  And it’s not just that our beliefs preclude or encourage certain activities, though that is usually a factor.  It’s also a matter of groups of people with similar convictions spending time together and aligning themselves.  The more time you spend with a group of people, the more likely you are to begin doing and believing similar things.

I actually think that, for me, that pattern has occurred in reverse (which is also probably fairly common).  As someone with a decidedly solitary spiritual practice, it is my social circle which has helped expose me to spiritual ideas and, therefore, influenced the direction my path has taken.

Interestingly enough, I think this has occurred more since I stopped participating in organized religion than it ever did before.  Perhaps it’s an indicator of how deeply your spiritual life has become part of your existence, how deeply those beliefs resonate with you at a soul level.

Or maybe it’s just because we have a need for community, for connection.  If our practice is solitary, perhaps we are more likely to seek like-minded companionship in other areas of our lives.  In other words, maybe the extent to which we find ourselves gravitating to activities and pastimes shared by others with similar beliefs is a matter of needing that community support but not wanting the interference of others in our spirituality.

 

Advertisements

Engage the Masses

The second element of a religion is that there is a community of adherents, a collective belief and practice.  Activism is like that, too, in that there is a coalition of people and organizations for just about any particular concern of focus a person could have.  And each time events draw people together to fight against something or fight for something, there emerges a community with its own name and agenda.

In fact, I think that’s one of the best things about times like this when we’re compelled to stand up for humanity as a matter of great urgency:  we come together.  We connect with each other over a desire to do good, to make the world better.  Unlike most religions, activism comes with the sense that solitary practice has little impact.  It’s not about the individual, it’s about the collective.  A necessary part of activism is to join your efforts with the efforts of a large number of others, because that’s the point at which things actually begin to happen.

This gives activists the reassurance that the small amount of change or effort we can produce on our own is backed by the larger collective, that our struggle is not solitary and that we are not alone.  In addition, there’s the added element of knowing that one’s efforts are needed by other activists, that what we are able to do is valued by those who are striving towards the same goals.  Unlike many traditional religions, activism tends to draw people into group participation and collective bonding rather than pushing them into increasingly solitary prayer and devotion.  There is no benefit to keeping ideas and knowledge to oneself in activism.  Any effort is amplified by participation, and there are no rewards for attempting to solve problems alone.