[from a back-to-school transition liturgy crafted by Agnes Kramer-Hamstra, and prayed together last night at a small gathering of faculty and staff]:
….We turn again to the little way station that is SSU
We turn to this small happening microcosm where
we try to play out the largeness,
the grand languid move and
the almost invisible quickstep
that is your life in and with our lives,
in and with the life of this world,
Creator and Redeemer.
And, as we turn, we ask for help:
Help us each to accept who we are and what we are able to give right now
Help us to offer what we can, gladly
Help us to hear and see the people students are, see them and hear them as you do
Help us to teach; help us to listen.
Help us to ask for help.
Help us when we feel overwhelmed.
Grant us your peace.
There is also a vast and equally important movement toward “going local.” In fact, more and more groups are recognizing that economic localization represents a systemic solution multiplier. At a fundamental level, centralized, top-heavy systems – whether they are capitalist, socialist, or communist – cannot remain democratic. Decentralizing, or localizing economic activity, from finance to industry and farming, can restore participatory democracy while simultaneously renewing the social and ecological fabric. Instead of scaling government up, localization is about scaling business down. Business and banking need to be place-based in order to allow culture and ethics to shape commerce, rather than vice versa.
Localization is not about ending trade, nor is it about acting only locally. For grassroots localization efforts to succeed and grow in the long term, they must be accompanied by policy changes at the national and international levels. Rather than thinking just in terms of isolated, scattered efforts, we must demand government policies that promote small scale on a large scale, allowing space for community-based economies to flourish and spread.
– Helen Norberg-Hodge, Ancient Futures: Lessons from Ladakh for a Globalizing World (2009)
[NOTE – a UN committee agrees: check out this report that deserves much more attention.]
[Dr. David Moore, visiting from California, stressed the importance of Howard Thurman’s writing for a contemplative basis to activism. If you’re near St. Stephen, come on out for public lectures Nov 1 (7pm) & 2 (6:30pm) on “Standing Up to Domination and Violence with a Calm Soul”]:
The basic fact is that Christianity as it was born in the mind of this Jewish thinker and teacher appears as a technique of survival for the oppressed. That it became, through the intervening years, a religion of the powerful and the dominant, used sometimes as an instrument of oppression, must not tempt us into believing that it was thus in the mind and life of Jesus. ‘In him was life; and the life was the light of men.’ Wherever his spirit appears, the oppressed gather fresh courage; for he announced the good news that fear, hypocrisy, and hatred, the three hounds of hell that track the trail of the disinherited, need have no dominion over them.
– Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited
Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple tree or an oak. Shall he turn his spring into summer?
– Henry David Thoreau, Walden
It is the individual, personal example that counts. The greatest “doing” that is open to every one of us, now as always, is to foster and develop within oneself a genuine understanding of the situation which confronts us, and to build conviction, determination, and persuasiveness upon such understanding. Let us face it, to look at modern industry in the light of the Gospels is not the fashion of the day, and the diagnosis I have given here is not acceptable, at this point in time, to the great majority of our contemporaries. What, then, is the use of asking for a “program of action”? Those who have understood know what to do. They also know that, although in a minority, they do not stand alone….
So I certainly never feel discouraged. I can’t myself raise the winds that might blow us, or this ship, into a better world. But I can at least put up the sail so that, when the wind comes, I can catch it.
– E. F. Schumacher, Good Work (free ecopy available here)