I feel a bit guilty about it, but the fact is that I’m not a warrior.
I think the right thing to do is to be out there on the front lines, fighting.
I feel like what I’m “supposed” to be doing is holding picket signs, protesting, writing letters, posting revolution on Facebook—yelling.
I feel like I should be out there in the faces of the politicians who are lying. I should be protesting government intervention where it doesn’t belong, and doing all I can to protect the visionary programs and ideas that our government promotes.
I feel like I should know. I should know who is who in government and business. I should celebrate the good guys and bring down the bad. I should know where everyone stands on the issues.
But…I’m not a warrior. I just can’t do it.
I have, though. I have done it.
I have stood in freezing weather in a Wyoming shopping center parking lot with a line of women, me the only man, holding letters that spell out p-r-o-c-h-o-i-c-e.
I protested outside the building of my senator chanting anti-war, anti-government slogans, while directly across the street and in equal or greater numbers were people chanting pro-war, pro-government slogans.
I’ve written letters to the editor telling the world we need to stop clear-cutting forests. I’ve walked with forest rangers through the woods of Wyoming looking at the damage from allowing cattle to use public lands, and the rangers—off the record, of course—telling me they would love to see it stopped.
I’ve made phone calls and held signs for politicians. I’ve gone door to door looking for votes. I held meet-ups and political fundraisers. I participated in marches in DC.
I’ve given people driving their Hummers “the finger” for being clueless about the world.
But I am not a warrior.
I’m not a protestor. I’m not a political activist. I’m not an angry anti-establishment screamer. I’m not an in-your-face-I-told-you-so-sign-holder. I’m not a Facebook-loving protester of everything wrong in the world. I’m not someone who finds joy in the latest news updates.
In fact, not only am I not a warrior, I’m also not a cabdriver, or a baker, or a fisherman, or a logger, or a carpenter, or a businessman, or a mechanic, or web designer.
I’m a yoga teacher.
In the Bhagavad Gita, during the midst of uncertainty about his true path or svadharma, the great warrior Arjuna asks his friend Krishna (God) what to do. Krishna says, “Arjuna, with the sword of wisdom, sever the doubt in your heart, be a warrior.” Krishna is telling Arjuna that there are many options and doubts in the world, but what we need to do is be our true self and follow our light and our purpose.
What I’ve come to realize is that Krishna wasn’t kidding. He wasn’t telling all of us to fight the great battle against powers that be, he was telling us to fight against the external pressures of the world and to not be afraid to be ourselves.
For some of us, thankfully, that means to truly protest. Go ahead and hold signs. Write letters. Run for political office. Spread the good word about what’s wrong and what’s right. For those people, hopefully, that is their true calling.
But that isn’t my path. I am a yoga teacher.
Instead of needing to know what is going on in politics, I need to connect with the light in myself and in my students.
Instead of angrily protesting the most recent disgraces in the world, my job is to celebrate the diversity that makes our world a beautiful place.
Instead of looking under every stone to find what’s wrong, I need to remind myself and others to first, look for the good.
We don’t need to feel guilty about being ourselves. We all have our svadharma—personal path. Yoga teaches us to turn inside, really listen to who we are, and be true to our svadharma. Of course, it’s always important to do that, but the current political situation is a clarion call to all of us to fully take the plunge to be our best selves. This is not a selfish act, it is what we are supposed to be doing.
As Krishna reminds us, “It is better to follow one’s own dharma, though imperfect, than the dharma of someone else, even though well-performed.”
Author: John McConnell
Image: Liliane Rodrigues/Flickr
Editor: Katarina Tavčar