Working for Peace, Justice, and Environmental Sanity

In 2004, when the political situation was not nearly as bad as it is now, I reached a point of despair.  I sent out a plea to the Circle Dance network.  (This was before facebook.)  I got lots of supportive answers — from around the world no less — and I put them together in a little booklet which I called Circle of Hope.  It’s one of the pages on this blog.

The answer I remember the most was the one from Dilys.  Her elegant phrasing and especially her commitment to the long run, were very powerful for me.  I repeat them here:

Dear Jenny,
Thank you so much for reminding us how arduous this peacework can be. I very much liked the image you drew of trying to move a mountain of sand grain by grain. In fact, that is precisely what each of us is doing, in much the same way that Buddhist monks build their sand mandalas — grain by grain. What enables them to work so assiduously is the fact that they focus not on the result, but on the process. This is a valuable lesson for the West. The I Ching teaches that we should plow our fields, not expecting a harvest. The harvest is not our concern; it is only the plowing that matters.
In response to your plea, I can offer only what I learned growing up in Friends meeting about what it means to benefit from the endeavors of an active life. Whether we succeed in our efforts depends on how “success” is interpreted. There is another kind of success outside that of seeing the result we hope for. There is the success measured by useful and important work done with devotion. There is the success of having responded to what one knows to have been the authentic call of God/dess and of having remained faithful to that guidance, whether seeing any results or not.
When society has fed and housed the poor and nursed the sick, and when it has educated the disenfranchised and offered them a useful place in the economy of mankind; when the brilliant and advantaged have been educated for responsibility rather than for personal gain; when no one is standing around rejected while others feel themselves over-entitled; when war has been renounced and its instruments disassembled, only then will it be possible for us to consider whether our struggles offer us any sense of worldly success compatible with our convictions.
In the meantime, this work we do forms us in character and conscience. We do it because it involves bearing witness to a “testimony,” which (contrary to what many people think) is not a response to an external problem. It is a leading that comes from that authentic guidance from God/dess. In that respect, we do it because to do otherwise is unthinkable. We do it because we cannot conceive of not doing it.
Of course, you know all this. I write it, I suppose, to remind *myself* of what lies behind my own peace efforts. Your plea has helped me affirm my own commitment, and I thank you for that, in addition to your having reached out so sweetly.
Love,
Dilys

I repeat here my favorite paragraph:

When society has fed and housed the poor and nursed the sick, and when it has educated the disenfranchised and offered them a useful place in the economy of mankind; when the brilliant and advantaged have been educated for responsibility rather than for personal gain; when no one is standing around rejected while others feel themselves over-entitled; when war has been renounced and its instruments disassembled, only then will it be possible for us to consider whether our struggles offer us any sense of worldly success compatible with our convictions.

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