Excerpt | Spiritual Activism, Together 

by Nicholas Joyce

Deconstructing Assumptions 

When I say ‘activism,’ it almost certainly brings a particular picture to mind. Perhaps it’s people peacefully assembled with picket signs; maybe it’s masked members of a protest movement throwing rocks at cops; or maybe it’s making a monthly donation to an organization that does wonderful work. How many of you think of a monk meditating on a mountaintop? How about a group of people engaged in collective inquiry to uncover hidden or limiting beliefs? What if instead of saying ‘activism’ I said ‘spiritual activism?’ Would that change the picture that first comes to mind? If yes, I think that’s a problem and I am going to tell you why. Then I am going to offer a solution and invite you to play a new game. 

When something doesn’t fit in the boxes we construct to help us understand, we react with bewilderment and often anger, resistance, or outrage. When a label becomes an identifier rather than a descriptor we move into the world of absolutes, of duality, of separation. Either you are an activist or you are not. Either you are spiritual or you are not. The frontline activists often judge the spiritual activists and vice versa. “They are not really activists.” Put differently, they are not one of ‘us.’ When we are willing to engage in a process of challenging our assumptions, we begin to decolonize our minds. We begin allowing things and people to be unique, to be exactly as they are. This open inquiry allows us to relate to each other’s essence and being rather than to our story of who someone ought to be, how they ought to act, and whether or not they are one of us. If we embrace the simple fact that we are each ourselves and active in our own ways, we would see that we are all in this together. What becomes important then is the rules we play by—the ‘why?’

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About the Author

Nicholas Joyce and his partner, Cynthia Tina, combine the best of enlightened business strategy, group process work, and new paradigm education. They produce events that change lives; consult communities and organizations on deepening impact; design and execute marketing, fundraising, and business plans for values-aligned groups; and coach individuals to build the lives they feel most called to live. Nicholas has visited 50+ impact centers across four continents. He is centrally involved with several community networking organizations such as NuMundo, Global Ecovillage Network, and Fellowship for Intentional Community. As co-founder of NextGENNA, he engages young people in the ecovillage movement and co-produces the annual Youth Ecovillage Summit. nicholasjoyce.com