Editorials of Nancy Roof

Silence is Not an Option

“Silence is not an option,” said Martin Luther King while war raged in Vietnam. Now as wars proliferate on every front—political, economic, social, environmental, and in our own psyches, our hearts are breaking. We see the values we cherish and fought for being tossed aside for material gain. We long to create the enlightened society we envision. And we know that action is the way forward.

Silence is not an option.

Kosmos has once again gathered together a group of leaders who are defining the new conscious activism and answering the call to engage. From reactive and raging protests and resistance, activism has now evolved to deep self-inquiry into how we, ourselves, might be complicit in perpetuating the conditioned values of a materialistically dysfunctional society. We are asked to look at our motivations, to use our hearts as well as our heads, to become courageous defenders of our values, and to become creators of a world that is in harmony with all Life.

Aware and conscious engagement begins with ‘me.’ We cannot hope to manage a complex world if we have not learned to man- age our own thoughts and feelings and have not examined our own assumptions and worldviews. Personal change and cultural change go hand in hand. How do we cleanse ourselves of societal conditioning to enable us to be present in the Now? Self-inquiry and meditation are ways to personal peace, but also the precursors to effective action in the world.

Silence is not an option!

In addition to examining and changing our personal inner lives and our cultural values, the conscious activist is challenged to apply this wisdom to strategies that affect the manifest world. We balance action and reflection.

We work with a fierce heart at all scales from the personal, to local, to national, to global and even kosmic levels. Some of us are pioneering new healing strategies, knowing that when we are stuck and wounded it is impossible to move on to create the new cultures and civilizations. Many of us are wounded personally as well as culturally. In the Western world we suffer from the dysfunction of the cultural disease called Wetiko — where personal gain trumps collective gain and the separate individual trumps the collective.

Emerging from separation to interdependence is key to healing the Western world. Conscious activists take a holistic view of our One planet, our One humanity, and our relationship to all living beings. The care of nature becomes a sacred responsibility.


Conscious leaders are offering experiential training programs to expand our vision and to embrace the whole. They are helping us to realize how the illusion of independence has short-circuited us into a culture where consumerism and status trump human kindness, generosity, and compassion.

There are many ways to engage in conscious activism, from changing our inner lives and our cultural values to working to make our institutions more effective, humane, and friendly instead of systems that exploit people and the planet. traditional tactics include writing petitions, letters to editors and Congress, prayer vigils, strikes, boycotts, marches, public performances, meeting disruptions, culture jams, and many more.

Resistance is necessary, but it is not enough.

We resist the old while building the new economics, governance, environment, and society itself. Some make pilgrimages as silent retreats. Some are taking pilgrimages into society, dialoguing with strangers who often turn out to be faithful friends, or stepping into the shoes of the homeless to deepen compassion for the human condition.

New conscious activism goes beyond personal change to collective change in ways that are new to most of us. Meditation is evolving into embracing the wellbeing of the whole planet. Groups around the world synchronize their meditations to align with specific global challenges. Collective subtle activism is one of the emerging new ways to engage in healing our planet and connecting the human family.

Cultural trauma, in the aftermath of genocide and other grievous crimes against humanity committed by nations and affecting entire populations, is now being healed with collective meditations and witnessing efforts. As one of the responsibilities of global citizens, we can train to be global witnesses and heal trauma on a collective level, instead of allowing it to pass on to future generations.

We are rapidly coming together at the grassroots level through networks, alliances, and movements. Youth activism flourishes with successful lawsuits against the government for jeopardizing their ecological futures. Millennials are taking a prominent role in insisting on living the values they believe in. Our next step toward increased impact requires connecting all these groups.

We are motivated by a fierce love of humanity, the animals, the planet, and a compelling need for justice and beauty.