Gratitude As Radical Political Action
"We are here to awaken from the illusion of separation" Thich Nhat Hanh.
By now it is obvious to all but the diehards
that President Trump is a narcissist, maybe even a malignant narcissist
as reported in the latest New Yorker. Narcissism is self indulgence,
lacking regard for the larger context. As a white male engineer,
I must admit to my own narcissistic patterns, so I recognize myself
In this context, Trump is a perfect reflection
of the dysfunction of our culture: belief in the separation of
self from everything else. The corporate Republican agenda has
no regard for anything other than money. The natural world, and
most people, are just resources to be consumed and polluted for
the financial gain of a few.
Trump's actions leave many people struggling
to find an effective response. While resisting politically is
popular, I want to suggest an additional response, addressing
the core of the narcissist perspective, which is fundamentally
A holistic, or non-dual, perspective knows
that the self is a relative distinction, which arises within the
unity of the world. The relative self is always dependent on
the larger world, exchanging energy, material, and information.
Gratitude is recognition of that basic connection.
For example, the three most basic human needs
are air, water and food. Every few seconds we draw a breath,
inhaling oxygen molecules, which have been released into the atmosphere
within the last six months by plants and bacteria. Without this
gift, we would expire within minutes. We can honor that gift
with gratitude for every breath.
Without clean water we will die within a week.
The last few years of drought have increased awareness of how
precious water is. As the Standing Rock people know, water is
life. We are fortunate that it rains in Ukiah. Even though we
pay to have clean water delivered for our use, the water itself
is a gift from nature. We can honor that gift with an awareness
of gratitude whenever we use or consume water.
Finally, without food we die within three weeks.
All beings that do not photosynthesize live off the death of
other beings. Most of us live on food that is grown and processed
by other people. Even though we pay money for these items, we
can practice being grateful, for if those beings and people did
not exist, most of us would die.
I have found that it is easy to create bad
habits, but difficult to generate good habits. However, I have
created the habit of giving thanks before every meal. I give
thanks to all beings that have given their lives that I may be
nourished. I give thanks to the water that has been used to grow
and process my meal. I give thanks to the people involved in
bringing that food to my plate.
This simple practice of gratitude allows me
to pay attention to my essential connection to the larger world.
With gratitude practice, I am choosing to live life NOT like
President Trump and the Republican corporate billionaires. Gratitude
is not a resistance to the insanity, but an affirmation of the
world I want, which is an abiding awareness of the unity of reality,
and it's non-dual nature. Gratitude is an action I can take every
moment, which changes my experience of the world, reduces stress,
and affects everyone I encounter. Paying attention to what I
am grateful for allows me to be more balanced about what disturbs
me. This personal practice is radical political action at is
foundation. Gratitude can change the world.