Watching the news last year, I was moved to tears during footage of the devastation in the Gulf of Mexico.
Mindful of my yoga practice, and what it has to say about the five kleshas, or afflictions, clouding our view of reality, I decided to make watching the news my yoga practice, right then and right there.
I wanted to see what was truly going on, beyond ignorance or avidya. (The first klesha).
As I watched, an angry man flashed before the screen and said:
Shame on you BP!
The news shifted to the latest political goings-on about who was to blame.
It’s BP’s fault.
No, it’s the government’s fault.
No, it’s Obama’s fault.
Meanwhile I watched without getting hooked into the drama – without despairing, without feeling outrage, and without getting upset.
It was so liberating. Calm acceptance of what was, mixed with compassion gave me a sense of clarity.
And one thought above all popped up.
- Who amongst us has never traveled in a vehicle powered by petrol (or gas)?
- Who amongst us has never owned, nor used, something made of plastic?
- Who amongst us has never used a computer?
Then let him or her cast the first stone.
This event is the responsibility of all of us, and it is up to all of us to come up with a solution.
Blaming and shaming will never save a single bird from death by oil.
It is a waste of time, a waste of energy, and it is symptomatic of fear.
In a world run by oil, it was only a matter of time before another accident blighted mother nature. To pretend otherwise is to live in ignorance or avidya. Devastation such as that wrought in the Gulf of Mexico is just the cost of doing business – oil business. It’s what we pay for our cheap energy at the gas station.
So what do we do? How do we respond?
Maybe we could start asking ourselves a few more questions before diving into producing/mining/digging/drilling more and more things.
- If plastic is such an indestructible wonder of engineering… where’s all the no-longer-useful plastic going to retire to?
- If we make our products out of cheaper and cheaper materials so that it’s not worth fixing them when they break down and people can just afford to buy another and another one… what happens to all the trashy appliances we no longer need?
- If we start drilling for oil in the ocean, and something goes wrong and it starts gushing out like crazy…. do we have some way of cleaning it up? Really cleaning it up?
- If we measure the success of a nation by it’s GDP growth… are we in fact likening people to a cancer because cancer is the only thing that grows and grows and grows with no heed to the sustainability of it’s environment… until one day it kills it’s host and therefore itself?
I really like that last question. It’s a reminder that our focus on growth is just greed by another name and it’s going to kill us all.
Well it might.
We’ve still got time to change.
And to help that change along, here’s a few other questions we might want to ask ourselves:
- Why do we assume that more money equals more happiness when we KNOW that, beyond the basic poverty line, more money doesn’t really change people’s experience of life at all?
- If what changes people’s daily experience of life is whether or not they feel empowered, whether or not they are healthy, whether or not they are passionate about what they do with their time, whether or not they love and are loved… why do all our companies and governments focus on making more money?
- What for?
- Isn’t about time we shifted our focus from all the money we can make, to the type of world we can create?
These are the kinds of questions I see the Occupy Movement asking now, and it makes me excited. They’re great questions. They’re the kind of questions that help us wake up.
Which is great, because when I think about whose to blame for oil spills… well, I drive, I use plastic, I own a computer. So…
I’m to blame.
I too am part of the problem.
And I know this because of yoga.
My practice has taught me that there is no separation between me and the other.
Which is why actions undertaken with judgment, with blame, with hate, with an idea that there is an ‘Us’ and ‘Them’, just perpetrate the cycle of violence, just as an oil spill is violence against the environment.
When we unite together around the things that matter most to us, like caring for the Earth, we don’t want to create another ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ to hate, to blame, to get angry at, to push away.
Sure BP might be the ones drilling, but seeing them as separate and different from us, pushing them away and vilifying them doesn’t save any birds. We all love cheap gas at the pump right? We all use computers.
Instead it’s time to get creative, compassionate, passionate, and unidentified with ‘points of views’ about what is right and what is wrong.
That’s a biggie – that whole “unidentified with what is right and wrong” statement.
It’s something else that yoga is real good at teaching us, when we practice consistently.
We start to understand that any situation that contains conflict is not about who is right and who is wrong.
Instead we learn to ask ourselves, how can we understand with compassion the other person’s perspective and needs? How can we find a solution that works for everybody?
History has proven over and over and over again that non-violence, acceptance, compassion and love has the power to change the world.
Ghandi. Martin Luther King. Mother Theresa. Nelson Mandela.The Dali Lama. Leymah Gbowee.
Every day offers us opportunities to live from a place of love, compassion, understanding and peace.
Every interaction we have with other people provides a chance to practice.
Practice love and kindness.
Practice compassion and empathy.
Practice understanding and peace.
Then when we ask ourselves, whose to blame? We realise, it doesn’t matter.
What matters is, how are we going to pool our resources, talents and skills to care for the world and each other?
All 100% of us.
That’s a way better question.