Socially Involved

Part 4 of 9 in the series Future Spirituality

All authentic spirituality has a core characteristic of the Golden Rule, and as such will take action when confronted with injustice and suffering. This does not mean that the inner journey is abandoned, but rather that it becomes the core energy source for active social involvement in a non-violent way.

Norm Habel’s story is a good example of social involvement from the heart.

“The Grihini women now call me thatha which means grandpa. I am honoured to be part of the Grihini family and accept that title today.  22 years ago, the Kodaikanal International School in, South India, of which I was principal, was about to construct a new Middle School to meet the needs of ambitious international students. The time came for us to lay the foundations. I expected a cement truck to arrive and pour the concrete into the holes dug for the foundations.  Instead, trucks of rocks arrived followed by groups of women.

Many of these women were teenagers, the same age as the students studying at my school.  The task of these women was to sit beside the road and use a small hammer to smash the large rocks into screenings small enough to be used in the concrete.  All day they smashed rocks into small pieces for about a dollar.

When I asked who these young women were, I was told they were Dalits.  I was informed that they were nobody important, just coolie labourers and not to worry. I realised that many of these women should be in school rather than smashing rocks to construct school for their affluent peers.  How could I espouse education if I ignored the injustice that was part of the very construction of my own school.

I discussed these issues with friends in St Louis and their response was to give us $4,000.00 to initiate a program.  Upon returning to India, I discussed with my wife Jan Orrell how these funds might best be used.  She had been reading the work of Manushi in the North and that of Jessie Tellis Nayak and proposed that we form a local social action group to explore the possibilities.”

“The emerging spirituality of the third millennium is socially engaged; it is deeply concerned with the plight of all those who suffer, wherever they are. It does not turn its back on broken humanity by retreating into the private domain of solitude, disengaged from the trials and tribulations of the masses living in deplorable conditions – the millions who are homeless, malnourished, uneducated, and unemployed. This spirituality has a heart sensitive to the pain of the human family, and it seeks to relieve this pain. 

Socially engaged spirituality is the inner life awakened to responsibility and love. It expresses itself in endless acts of compassion that seek to heal others, contributing to the transformation of the world and the building of a nonviolent, peace-loving culture that includes everyone.”

Wayne Teasdale – The Mystic Heart

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