28 Dec 2007 |
Posted by Lama Surya Das | 2 Comments.
The single election issue that every member of the Text Message Generation cares about is the environment. To all Text Messagers: This is the year of the Text Generation. I hope y’all will get out the vote in the upcoming presidential election. In truth, every day is election day; whatever we do, say, think, desire and intend is a vote for how the world will be. The world is your hands, head and heart, body and soul. Use it, don’t abuse it. It’s now or never—as always.
Polls tell us that about half of youthful voters don’t show up on election day. I understand that many young people don’t feel they have power to shape public policy, but they might be pleasantly surprised if motivated to mobilize as a group. Fore example, today’s technology provides online social networks ideally suited for conscious activists to share causes and concerns with acquaintances, friends and colleagues, to provide social innovation accelerators, and to engage others in confronting problems which may seem insurmountable to the lone individual. In Korea recently, text messages burst out to millions of cell phones strongly influenced a national election. Today more than ever before, we have the ability to make a difference, particularly through media’s means of instant, wide-spread communication. How shall we best use this communication power and ability? Are we wise and committed enough to find a way use it for the common good? GenText could become the MoveOn.org Generation.
Why wouldn’t a significant per cent of the population vote? There are millions of caring yet disillusioned, politically disenchanted members of the Boomer and New Age groups as well as more recent youth generations who don’t bother to vote, yet continue to bemoan the state of society and the world like postmodern dropouts and psychedelic relics, an unhappy marriage of narcissism and nihilism. Research shows that people today aren’t voting or joining civic groups like they did in the past, are more uninformed about current affairs, are less trusting of each other and civic institutions, and are generally retreating from public life. A recent report from the American Political Science Association states in stark language that American democracy is at risk because of these trends. Why is it that Yeats’ famous line continues to haunt us: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity?” Like fanaticism, apathy and complacence too come at grave costs. Giving in to feelings of helplessness and insignificance in these complex times serves no one. Denial and sedation enervates too many of us; indifference costs the giver as well as the recipients of such stinginess.
No one can do it all, yet no one is exempt from participating, one way or another. We are each part of the process, and depend upon one another in ways both visible and invisible. Things become unbalanced when people secede from active citizenry yet continue to take advantage of public works, protections, rights, and the like. There are no accidents; everything has its causes and effects. Rather than remaining oblivious to our responsibility for our experience, we can each learn to wisely discriminate and help to shape outcomes. Are some simply resisting this reality, perhaps because acknowledging it would make it necessary to take action and to change?
If we can engage the TextGen along with other latent voting blocs, I firmly believe we could make great strides, both individually and collectively, toward caring for our environment and our humanity. Friends, why allow yourself to be counted as insignificant at election time? Find your voice and ‘text message’ it, by whatever means you know. Pass the idea around, if you see fit, and exhort people to vote intelligently, reflect on and discuss core issues, and make the time to look deeper in truly considering things. It is as necessary to be knowledgeable and aware as it is to act. It’s important to think for yourself, although you just can’t always believe whatever you think, not to mention whatever you read and hear. Everything is subjective. Transforming ourselves helps transform the world. Let’s step up to leadership rather than falling into mere followership. Remember the Power of One.
“We are what is wrong, and we must make it right.” Some spiritual people I know say we shouldn’t be involved in politics. Mahatma Gandhi famously said: “Those who think religion and politics are entirely separate fields don’t know much about either religion or politics…. We must become the changes we wish to see in the world.” Moreover, let’s not be distracted or manipulated by sound-bites about religion in this year’s political campaign. Religion is, at heart, meant to be a uniting rather than a divisive force, beyond all historical isms and schisms. Remember that carefully crafted campaign talk about church-going, personal beliefs and a narrow band of values is all about expediency and vote-getting, not about the genuine evergreen spiritual issues of faith, forgiveness, redemption, love, equality, tolerance and altruism—universal values which offer life-guidance and lasting nourishment.
We must think globally – with objective clarity and wisdom– while acting locally, with compassionate awareness, beginning with oneself. Don’t we love, respect and care enough about our homeland to take better care of it and of each other, in both the short and long term? Can we ignore the poverty, illiteracy and insufficient health care in our society today? Can we ignore our excessive use and misuse or our world’s natural resources? We Americans are famed for our energetic individualism and future orientation, fine qualities yet not without real downsides in our close-knit global community. We are at a tipping point in our great country’s world leadership, a threshold we may have already crossed as the American Century has come to a close and we face the decline of our international hegemony. We now have both the opportunity and necessity to rethink and redefine our global role along with the character of our increasingly pluralistic society. The system as we know it is for the most part broken; not being an entrenched part of it may be more of an asset than a hindrance when it comes to repairing things, which is where young people, newcomers and those with new vision can become extraordinarily significant. These times call for significant systemic change, not just the same wearisome partisan circus with different clowns. If we want true freedom and democracy, as I so often hear, we absolutely must relinquish many of our habitual tendencies.
It is worthwhile for spiritual seekers, broadly speaking, to link their personal beliefs and practices about environmental and humanitarian issues to broader political, social engagement and intelligent, nonviolent activism, to make a positive difference in today’s volatile world. The present and future—our own and our planet’s — depend on it. Every year is an election year at the local, state or national level and we ought to take it seriously—for the betterment of one and all. Every day, every moment, we are voting for how the world shall be and become, through our actions. We cannot afford to overlook this fact; everything we do makes a difference, however small. To save ne soul is to save the world, they say. I like to recall the African saying I heard Al Gore use in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech the other day: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” If we don’t pull together we shall be pulled apart. In our shrinking, interconnected and interdependent world today, is there really any choice?
Here’s my Text Message: Give yourself to the future by taking action now. Consider the kind of world we’re leaving for our children and the next generations. We all want to change and to help our world change for the better, but who among us is actually ready, willing and able to do so? “If not you, who? And if not now, when?” Get out the vote.
Pass it on.
2 Comments for Text Messengers, AWAKEN! Get Out the Vote