Saturday, May 1, 2010

10 Tips for Activists (to avoid burnout and despair)

10 Tips for Activists
to avoid burnout and despair.

  1. Dispassion, not rage

    Anger, rage, and resentment are toxic on the body
    and in relationships. They are poisons which destroy,
    and do not move us closer to our goals.

    If you catch yourself saying, "I get my motivation from my anger!!"
    you should look deeply into the question,
    "Is my anger moving me closer to my goals?"

  2. Do the work without attachment to outcomes

    If you want to find yourself in suicidal despair in 10 years,
    work with strong attachment to outcomes. If you want
    to be most effective, do whatever work is necessary,
    and release your craving for goal states.

  3. Cultivate unity and build community, not separation and distinctions

    Be careful if you set up US vs. THEM scenarios in your mind as you do activist work.
    These distinctions are the basis of all violence and suffering.
    Try to cultivate a sense of "we are all in this together" instead for greatest effectiveness.

  4. Work hard for your issues, show solidarity for others fighting their issues.

    We can only really work for our own causes. Be cautious of fighting for someone else's cause.
    Sometimes there is a hidden ego component here, including middle-class guilt.
    Instead, show others solidarity and support as they work for their own cause.

  5. Keep ego out of it!

    If you are deriving a strong story-of-self from your activist work,
    "I need to fight for what is right!!! I am righteous!"
    this is a big red flag. Ego will surely take you off the path,
    and corrupt your work.

    The best motivation is for the highest good of all beings.

  6. Focus on the harms done, not on the affected class

    This is a tricky one, and very important. An example is
    "racial profiling by the police". Is this real? Certainly!
    However, by framing the issue in terms of race, means
    the solution will be in terms of race: special rights or remedies for
    the affected class.

    Race and Class do not really exist! These are social constructs only.
    Racial profiling occurs which the people "see race".
    When we in turn "see race" as being part of the problem,
    despite our good intentions, we actually perpetuate the problem
    of seeing separation, rather than seeing us all as members
    of the Human Race.

    If instead we focus on the harms done (abuse of police powers)
    we then can create a solution which will help all people,
    not just a special class.

  7. A spiritual practice can help.

    I am not talking about any kind of belief system.

    I am talking about a daily practice of gratitude, patience,
    forgiveness, allowing, repentance, releasing resentment and anger,
    compassion for all beings, calming the chattering of the monkey mind.

    I have found meditation practice to be most helpful, especially
    as taught in the Buddhist and Yoga traditions.

  8. Act in accordance with your principles.

    Don't be a hiprocrite, for most effectiveness and merit.

  9. Non-violence is the highest principle.

    Did you ever hear someone "fighting for peace and justice"
    advocating violence to further the cause? This is a serious
    problem, folks.

  10. Enjoy your life!

William Huston  
Binghamton NY             Phone: 607-321-7846

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