With an eye to what helps.

To recur on the theme of power from before, one idea that has stuck with me for many years is:

Power resides in simplicity.? The more powerful you wish to be, the slower and simpler you must be.


Gandhi was a superb example of this; he affected hundreds of millions by his simply living.? However, I had an experience during a debate a few weeks ago with the Work Less Party that illustrated this as well.? The debate was about whether it was right for Canada to send troops to Afghanistan.? There were, of course, many arguments which could be said for and against it, most of which exist for any nation in NATO.? However, my response bypassed all of this:

“I would say that we’re answering the wrong question here.? The question isn’t it whether it’s right or not to send troops.? The question is 😕 what will help?

(I then went on to document examples of missions in the world that actually did help, which were generally in the area of non-profit activities.)


The interesting thing about this tact is the lack of arguments it created.? If I had stated that something is wrong with that action, it’s guaranteed to provoke conflict, because it is a divisive statement.? I would be saying that this behaviour and the people supporting it are wrong, and I’m right.? For example, those with loved ones in the military might feel personally attacked.? Others might contradict me as a matter of course without listening to me because they know that who they are isn’t wrong (which is true) and the argument makes them feel so.

On the other hand, focusing on only what will help, without any judgment on the current state of affairs, creates much more room for both clear seeing and open choices.? It is a stance of Love.? Love starts with what IS, without any reservations about what it “should be”.? It then focuses on what will help â???? even if it is only one small step on a path a continent away.? The next moment is responds in the same way, always with an open mind.? Sometimes what will help is different than before.

This a lot of parallels to other areas of activism and human conflict. Activism is filled with a lot of conflict driven behaviour.? So much of it comes from admirable motivations, such as environmental stewardship, a desire to end poverty and the inherent violence therein, an end to conflict, or a desire to have small voices heard.? However, if the focus is on what is wrong with the world, it will provoke defenses.? It may attract attention, but it rarely provokes listening.? By focusing on only what will help â???? not what will help me, or the environment, or them, but the entire situation without division â???? you remove so many barriers towards effective change. 

? Everyone wants to help.? Yes, even George Bush!? The problem isn’t that â???? it’s the myopic vision that cannot see the whole picture that creates the situation.? Bypassing right and wrong creates a shortcut into this big picture.



This applies to personal relationships as well; when one person says “you did this to me!” there is an inherent conflict in that statement.? It’s a desire to make the other person wrong.? Changing that to a desire to help the situation â???? for both parties to experience joy â???? will always change perspective.? Sometimes what will help is an apology.? Other times it is clear communication of your experience without blame.? Still other times it is appropriate distancing.? It’s all flexible and starts with clear seeing and listening.? That’s what Love is.


[oh yes, and I did get a nice applause for my speech with some strong listening from the audience!]

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