"What happens next? We don't really know. There are people who think they know the answer. I'm not one of them. My view is, we don't understand very much about human beings or human affairs, so anything that would be done has to be experimentally tried, but I think there are some leading ideas that make some good sense." ~ Noam Chomsky
"We accept, without judgment, the inability or unwillingness of those entrusted with social improvement to translate their mandate into effective action. We believe that social change has to be organic, and cannot be thrust on a people. We believe that the individual contains the multitudes, and that all it takes is one individual to initiate the process of change. We believe in the collective wisdom and power of a people to determine and implement what is best for them. We believe that all we need is love, and the willingness to express that love through tangible action." ~ Ancient Punjagutta saying
|An Escher graphic that makes total sense to me now|
Most conversations with people I meet for the first time commence with “so what do you do?” It took me a while to get there, but now I usually answer with “I write.” Invariably, this is met with some puzzlement, usually with undertones of “another misfit crackpot,” and grudgingly followed up with “so what do you write about?” It took me a while to get there too, but now I have it down pat. “I write to encourage people to simplify their lives, quit their jobs, follow their heart and start saving the world.” The conversation usually quickly moves on to other topics. Sometimes, it is the last time I have a conversation with that person. No offense to anyone, myself included, and yes, I totally understand.
It has been through writing about “saving the world” that I began to see that to most people, seeking the essential, living in the spirit and leading a simple life is a task, a project, something to be put on your to-do list. Burning yourself out trying to amass wealth and possessions, indulging in mindless entertainment, or keeping up appearances comes much more effortlessly. Refusing to reflect on the consequences of our actions seems natural, while connecting with the universal spirit calls for a web search or joining a meditation group.
Also through writing, which I do primarily on my blogs, I discovered a whole world of people who are tirelessly working to “save the world,” usually anonymously and against great resistance. This resistance is not just from rigid mindsets but also from lack of resources, support, funds, and understanding. This discovery is what led to the interesting experiment called SoCh.
SoCh was born out of a conversation with my friend, Nivedita, who runs a publishing house (but refuses to publish me, again totally understandable) with whom I have partnered a few initiatives for writers, poets, and bloggers. We were sharing our amazement at the work being done by people we were meeting as we went about trying to promote the creative arts as a way to stop feeding destructive forces. After a couple of discussions, we decided to go ahead with our idea and see what happens. The idea was simple and open-ended – put together a group of change-makers and connect them with an audience of interested people. Get the change-makers to speak about what they do and the how and why of it, and then let them interact with the audience. Armed with this basic outline, we set out by shortlisting some of the incredible work being done by people we knew. Then we created an event page on Facebook and started telling people about it.