“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
The most common interpretation of this quote is fairly simple: If you take issue with the way the world works, make it your purpose to change it by embodying the change. By changing your habits, you are 1 person closer to achieving the big picture change you seek. By changing yourself you will change the world. Be the change.
Maybe this is exactly what Gandhi meant. I have always read it like this. Until today.
Today, I was meditating on the concept of change in our lives. How we are ever changing beings. I was meditating on identity. How I define myself as a certain type of person who does certain things and belongs to certain groups. I am a waiter, who smokes, and is a christian. I was meditating on how in the process of identifying myself to myself I am inevitably creating that reality, I become more the person I believe myself to be in the process of believing my self to be that person. Choosing an identity guarantees that you become that identity (if you believe it long enough).
Self help gurus use this concept all the time, “If you want to be successful, you have to get into the attitude of success. To be successful, you have to embody success, be success, everywhere in your life.” -Random and Completely Useless Self Help Book
“Committing yourself is a way of finding out who you are. A man finds his identity by identifying.” -Robert Terwilliger
Here is the problem with identity. Identity is fixed, it is stable, it is something that does not change. But people are not stable, people are not fixed, we do nothing but change. We change every moment of every day, our life of changing experiences changes us along with it. I am today not who I was yesterday. Yet we really love to define ourselves in a very fixed way.
In a way, we are not who we say we are. We are what we do. Or said another way, our actions define who we are because we are the ones doing them. By doing anything, you are directly expressing yourself. If you take that idea further you realize that there is no ‘you’ separate from the ‘thing you do’. You do the thing, and the thing you do defines who you are. You and the thing you do are one. The thing you do, is you. Said another way:
“The doer’ is merely a fiction added to the deed – the deed is everything.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
If we take this as true, then we realize that creating an identity – deciding who I am – is a lie. Because our identity does not always coincide with our actions. I say I would love to go to the park with you because I love parks, when really I am just doing it to be nice and keep you company. You define me as a park-goer, but I define myself as simply a nice person. So who am I? Which reality is true? The only truth, is that I went to the park with you. I am neither the park lover, nor am I a nice companion. I am simply someone in the park. The ‘why’ has no part in the reality, the reality is the act itself and not its interpretation. So in the process of identifying myself as ‘a waiter, who smokes, and is a christian’ I have totally underestimated everything I am (everything I do) and driven myself into a tiny corner. And if I truly believe I am in this corner, then that is all I will ever be.
“Identity is theft of the self” – Estee Martin
Finally, we come back to the original point. Maybe what Gandhi was getting at was deeper than just, ‘do the things you wish would happen’. Maybe Gandhi was challenging us to be our full ever-changing selves. To stop trying to identify as one person or another, as a member of one group or another, as a person with certain habits or others. But to just be. Just be ourselves. Do all the things that we do and let those actions define us, instead of our words, instead of our ideas about ourselves.
Our limitless actions and reactions make us limitless beings. Why corner ourselves into an identity? Why steal all that possibility from ourselves by identifying? Be change. Be the change. Be the changing being that you are.
If you wish to see your world change, be the changing being that you always have been and always will be. Just be. Ditch the identity.
Hello there. If you are reading this, I am probably already dead.
It is 2013 and the world we inhabit is a truly messed up place. Governments have unprecedented power over the people, secrecy is at an all time high, civil liberties are being curtailed and the NSA is actively spying on every American citizen. Corporations run the world, money is the only true power, and the unholy alliance between the private sector and the government has been fully consummated. Central Bankers run a global monetary cartel while big private banks collude alongside them. The rich are kept rich, the poor kept poor, and the gap grows ever wider. The closer we get to Hayek’s ideal of unfettered capitalism and the more we worship money the further and further we get from our humanity and underlying nature as impermanent beings on this fragile planet. The Keynesian extreme of controlled economy also implies top-down big brother government to pull all the strings and keep dissidents in line. Both systems abuse their powers so long as money talks, and in our world money screams.
Our planet as we know it is changing. The environment which sustained us and enabled us to evolve to this point is dying. We are living outside of our means as a species and it will not last long. The ice caps are melting at an exponential rate, freshwater is flooding our oceans and water levels are rising. Temperature extremes and seasons are being exaggerated as summers become longer and hotter and winters become longer and colder. Weather patterns are shifting and our “natural” habitat is becoming smaller and smaller. The “Goldilocks Zone” is shrinking.
I am writing about these topics, and will cover many more, because I think these are things we need to talk about. I am so tired of the collective people sleeping their way through their lives. Working as wage slaves in a corporate job, running the same rat race and coming home at night unfulfilled, stuffing their brain full of garbage television and their stomach full of garbage GMO food.
Change is inevitable, it is the only real thing. Our world is changing. It is our job to make sure it changes in a way that supports life, instead of destroying it.
As governments seize more power, they give it directly to the psychopaths running the largest companies in the world. Personal Freedom is shrinking at an alarming rate and the doors are closing. We must force them all to realize that a government only has power because the people will it so. We must force them to realize that life on earth is not a consumer to be swindled or a product to be sold.
I will not stand idly by as our shared world is cut into pieces and sold to the highest bidder. Such power is not for men to wield.
Through a series of posts on this blog I seek to muster your courage, excite your mind to the possibilities, and incite your heart to action.
He is free who is unconquered. Let us all be the unconquered.