Each of us supports causes beyond our present self, contributing resources and effort to achieve goals. Some simply aspire to accumulate wealth for their future or for the future of their family. But many extend their self-interest to include the welfare of other humans, the health of this planet’s ecosystems, or a rich relationship with the spiritual dimension. The realms of this extended self-interest are currently challenged in unprecedented ways.
In the United States a demagogue is poised to lead in an increasingly polarized government. Hate crimes and expressions of racism, sexism and xenophobia have increased in the past year, raising the specter of toxic empowerment. Human actions continue to deplete species and pollute the air, land, and sea. Abuse of fossil fuels has driven carbon emissions to atmospheric amounts wildly dangerous to climate stability, and acidified the ocean to caustic levels destructive to marine food webs. Yet the voters of the United States have elected a perfusion of political leaders that deny the human causes of global warming and openly commit to remove regulations that limit pollution.
A vision of justice underscores most of the charitable efforts to improve this life. Social justice demands fair and equal treatment of individuals no matter what their age, race, gender, sexual orientation or spiritual path. Economic justice exposes grossly unfair wages, a lack of esteem for working people, and the obscene transfer of wealth into the control of a very few. Ecological justice champions the balance of life on earth, and exposes those who would sacrifice the environment for short-term, short-sighted gain. Environmental justice decries the deliberate imposition of harmful exposure to health destroying activities in a disparate manner to minorities, the impoverished, and those disenfranchised of power. Spiritual justice honors all faiths, beliefs, and expressions of the divine.
The pursuit of justice and equity can seem overwhelming. This is one reason why charitable organizations tend to specialize in categories or subcategories of justice. They limit the expanse of their vision as they work toward achievable goals. This is understandable, indeed practical, but what if these specialized groups made a conscious effort to expand their vision?
Already, many groups build collaboration into their strategic plans, most often with those expressing similar missions. Multiple environmental organizations can work together on climate change, or sea acidification, or biodiversity. Human rights groups have focussed collective energy on gaining social acceptance and legal protection for transgender individuals, or mobilized together to insist on respect for the treaty rights of native tribes. Often a timely issue arises that can best be answered with distributed capacity of funds and action.
More rarely, organizations stretch their vision to embrace those working on issues that may seem divergent. Yet the potential is immense. We’ve recently seen an example in the solidarity of environmentalists, human rights advocates, proponents of property rights, and veterans in the this demonstration of tribal rights regarding the Dakota Access pipeline.
The Dakota Access pipeline protest is an excellent example because it also invokes the spiritual - reminding us of the sacred qualities of water, place and tradition.
It is the consideration of that which we hold sacred that has the power to join those who may seem too diverse to collaborate. By uncovering the sacred in our own hearts we open to the knowing of a world that is shifting on every level.
This shift will accelerate as we merge our visions of a world we can co-create. The visions connect at the level where we express our intention for all to thrive in a celebration of diverse lives and abundant health.
It takes courage to reach beyond the familiar - and the expectation of support that comes with the status quo paradigm. But it is the status quo that allowed the deterioration of the political systems of the United States. Now is the time to try something new, to make a fundamental shift to unity where we did not expect to find it. Sacred justice is at the core of a new revolution of inclusion.