Actions to Move Us From Here to There
What are the steps which, if followed, will take us from our current condition to what we envision as a loving and just society?
These steps do not involve making judgments about what is “right” or “wrong” about what is “good” or “bad.” Rather, we need to determine what actions are life-affirming as differentiated from those actions that are destructive of life – destructive of the natural environment or detrimental to the well being of ourselves or others. Careful thought can inform us to a large extent as to what actions are life-affirming. Doing careful thinking and coming to helpful conclusions regarding life-affirming actions are important steps. And, this thinking needs to be joined with our emotional intelligence so that we will joyfully do what is life-affirming for us and others. We will follow the desired steps because to do so – to act in service of others while nurturing ourselves and to act in harmony and unity with the natural world – is intrinsically rewarding and fulfilling, and adds to our emotional resonance with others. People whose main motivation is to do what they should do eventually abandon these should-motivated actions and become confused or overwhelmed by the complexity of figuring out what they should do. On the other hand, almost all of us have experienced at some point in our lives the intrinsic fulfillment that comes from actions based in service and love. Actions which serve others and which nurture the server manifest the essence of love. Yes, we can create a world where such actions are the usual rather than the exceptional experience.
Personal Behavior Change and Institutional Change Are Both Required
Given that means must be consistent with ends, we might conclude that we, as individuals, only need to act consistently with the essential qualities of the loving and just society that we envision. And, in many cases, that may be a sufficient guide for our actions. However, as we go about our everyday lives, we interact with institutions, for example with the company that employs us or with a government that regulates our actions, in which power sharing may be anything but equitable and in which all parties cannot influence decisions which affect them (two of the key conditions for a loving and just society). In short, we interact with institutions which are unjust and which need to change or be replaced.
Guidelines for Action – Two Dimensions: Individual Change and Institutional Change
While none of our actions is in isolation, it is important to look both at actions that we perform essentially individually as well as those actions we must necessarily take with others in order to produce institutional change.