This post is complementary to a post created at www.intothebardo.wordpress.com . I encourage you to read this and then read that post.
At The Bardo Group, they have been walking with President Nelson Mandela this week. A few folks have created posts inspired by the life and work that has so inspired the world. And on this day where we honor that which Inspires, focusing on President Mandela seems good and right.
President Mandela was a man who had an understanding of humanity called Ubuntu. Ubuntu is the belief that "I am because we are." The success of one person is intertwined with the success-or failure-of all. He could have stopped working when apartheid became a thing of the past in South Africa, but because his ultimate concern was beyond his own self, he continued working to change the nation he represented and to change the world.
President Mandela's concern eventually turned towards a focus on poverty, likening poverty to apartheid.
Definition of apartheid (n)
- segregated political system: a political system in South Africa from 1948 to the early 1990s that separated the different peoples living there and gave privileges to those of European origin
- People in poverty have lessened access to the political system in every nation
- People in poverty tend to be people of color (10% are "white")
We know who has the ear of leaders in countries, yes? It is not the poor, working mother. It is the bank president, CEO, or well-placed religious leader.
Poverty has indeed created a new apartheid where 90% of those in poverty are people of color. And recent studies show that upward mobility in the U.S. is a fantasy. Does this mean that people are condemned to live in a society perpetually being in poverty? No. But it takes more than an individual's will to break out of generational and social patterns. It takes all of us. It takes Ubuntu.
What can you do? It is so overwhelming, the issue of poverty, and I am barely making it month-to-month, what can I do? If you are reading this, you are privileged to have internet access. At a minimum, you can commit to contacting your elected officials or leaders (local and national) to advocate for policies that are friendly to those living in poverty. A recent study in Utah found that putting homeless people in houses cost less than having them homeless because housing was cheaper than the resultant medical bills! That's a winning policy! It wins on compassion and finances. And those of us on a spiritual path should consider the quality of compassion to be one of our highest callings.
It is difficult to know what to do. But people are doing it! If we all do the work of caring for each other, poverty will be greatly diminished and the human story will be greatly enhanced.
In would say, in my theology, that is what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like. And, wherever we find our inspiration, whether it is in the work of great people like President Mandela or in the concept of the Kingdom of Heaven, it should always lead to actions that transform the world to place of mercy, justice, and loving kindness.
I ask you today, where are you finding your inspiration? What is it leading you to do in the world?
(c) 2014, post, Terri Stewart
(c) 2013, photo, Ted Eytan, CC AT-SA 2.0, http://www.flickr.com/photos/22526649@N03/11235545336/