“If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” – Lisa Watson, aboriginal activist
2008 has been a year of formidable challenges and crises. We have experienced a worldwide economic downturn, rising joblessness rates, increasing tensions in the Middle East, and a major political shift at the highest level of government in the United States. We’ve watched some politicians elevated, while others have been ousted due to allegations of corruption. We’ve learned a lot of hard lessons in 2008.
One of my favorite aspects of yoga is the setting of an intention. Before the start of each session, most yoga instructors will encourage their students to set an intention for their practice. This intention can be a struggle that the student is working through, or a person in their life who needs some extra care and attention. It could be indecision about the future or it could simply be an aching body part. In this spirit, I would like to challenge the members of the Tranquil Space Foundation community to set an intention for the new year.
I hope that part of this intention will be to reach out and participate in your communities. I want to encourage you to immerse yourself in your community and its own unique challenges and problems because they are not problems separate from yourself. As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I challenge you to think of the various ways in which you can right the injustices suffered by those in your community on a daily basis. Don’t do it to feel good, or because it’s a “good thing to do.” Do it because it’s your responsibility as a citizen of your community, and our democracy as a whole. Of course there is the added “fuzzy feeling” benefit that comes from helping a child learn how to read, planting a tree, or cleaning up a local community square, but more importantly, it is an expression of one of our most precious gifts. The gift of citizenship and all of the duties and rights that go along with it.
As 2009 dawns and we embark on a new year, it is important that we all look into the future with hope and not fear. Challenge yourself to be involved and stay involved. Set an intention that will help you turn the staggering problems that we are facing into opportunities for growth in your community and within yourself. Never before has there been a time when citizens have been needed to participate in meaningful ways in their communities. If we all pick up a shovel, hammer, book, garden tool, etc. and understand that our own success is tied up with the success of our communities, 2009 will be a great year indeed.
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