I just got back from delivering a Sacred Activism workshop at the Unity Worldwide Annual People’s Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. Unity is one of many spiritual paths known as New Thought that are totally non-denominational, inclusive, and believe we are all one with the Divine Source that created us and everything else. I have been a Unity member for nearly twenty years but haven’t really gotten all that involved until the past several years.
Now among other things, I serve on the Unity Worldwide EarthCare Team: EarthCare is the program that helps Unity congregations adopt more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. The EarthCare team had been asked to present a workshop on Sacred Activism and I was one of the presenters.
Sacred Activism is an approach that blends both social action and spiritual groundings. It aims to take concrete action on difficult social issues without falling into the level of consciousness that created the problems in the first place. Sacred Activism works to find a balance between the meditation mat and marching. It acknowledges that we will only be our most effective in the work we do for the outer environment when we also do the work to clean up our own inner environments.
One of my favorite definitions of Sacred Activism comes from Andrew Harvey in his book, The Hope. He writes,
“Sacred Activism is the fusion of a mystic’s passion for God with the activist’s passion for justice, creating a third fire, which is the burning sacred heart which longs to help, preserve and nurture every living thing.”
I certainly feel that burning fire and I suspected a number of people in the room did as well but I did not know how they would respond to information about the insanity of a limitless growth economic system and how GDP is a flawed metric for economic success.
However, the point of the Sacred Activism workshop was to help spiritually awakened people become more effective activists on behalf of protecting our planet and improving people’s lives. I believe nearly every single big, gnarly issue facing us today – climate change, poverty, the massive gap between the uber-wealthy and everyone else, even institutionalized racism – is a symptom of an insane and dangerously flawed economic system. And so, that’s what I said.
I briefly explained that GDP simply measures the amount of money flowing through the economy and not whether that money is making us better or worse off. For example, the GDP registers the money spent to keep a child in juvenile jail as exactly as positive as the same amount of money spent to give a child an education. I explained how virtually all the global rise in GDP over the past decade has been debt-based and is completely unsustainable.
The crowd was totally engrossed and we had a rich conversation about steps individuals and faith congregations can take to begin to disengage from the insane, status quo, consumption-crazed story we are all caught up in.
Earlier in the day, from the main stage, Unity Worldwide (the Mother Ship if you will) made a strong commitment to the EarthCare program, encouraging congregations across the globe to step up their sustainability programs and remember the sacred covenant we all have with our planet. At the conference itself, held at a very nice hotel, Unity conference organizers even went so far as to remove the use of plastic straws and provide reusable, washable bamboo straws in the swag bags attendees received. It was a pretty great thing to be part of.
More importantly, given the tremendous level of dysfunction in our political systems and the media, faith-based organizations are positioned to play a significant role in taking peaceful, powerful action toward a healthier planet and culture.
To my amazement, I am two years into the program to become an ordained Unity Minister (sure didn’t see that one coming and man is it fun). I am honored and excited to be able to play a role in bringing New Economy concepts and actions to New Thought spiritual communities.