Doing Good, Apparently
I've been thinking today about Carol Sanford's "Do Good" paradigm—such an easy unconscious trap, where we make certain calls about what is good and right to do based on our values and then extend that to everyone/everything. We think we are making a difference, but we have not been able to move out of individualistic or disconnected "I"-centered or small "we"-centered solutions.
At least there is the intention to make a difference.
There are also those that appear to do good. For instance, Jaggi Vasudev's save soil campaign. Yes, it does not break out of the traps that Sanford mentions—universalization, genericity, projections (remember that colonialism also thought of itself as doing good, when saving the savages)—but there is another layer to the story. The story of Isha Foundation's own murky history: how it acquired tribal land, stole indigenous ecological knowledge:
"Once this knowledge was transferred, they were abandoned and, since they were ‘illegal trespassers, it was the ashram members, armed with the traditional tribal knowledge that they had accessed in an underhand way, who were given access to the forest and its bounty."
Or, how it built illegally—over, and obstructing, elephant corridors: "A key reason Isha has got away with blatantly violating rules is that it has been enabled by political authorities, particularly the Tamil Nadu government." In other words, through collusion with that age-old partner of unexamined power: corruption.
Can we trust ecological leadership by personages and organizations that continue to wreak damage on rivers and animals, bury indigenous voices, threaten indigenous livelihood? Will the world please take note?
Vasudev's spiritual teachings are an entirely different matter. Or are they? When you claim to be a teacher on behalf of consciousness, can you let small matters such as these slide? The principle of interconnectedness is clear: the integrity of the how affects the what. From a living systems perspective, small is not only beautiful, it is a system nested within the whole, and therefore its well-being is essential to the well-being of the whole.
The lack of congruence between Vasudev's eco-discourse and eco-doings makes sense if it is true: the gaping hollow in his philosophy. Relying on another's study and inner work without putting in work of our own cannot grow us, nor can it provide structures or organizations with integrity enough to uphold an evolutionary consciousness that truly desires the participation of or contributes to all life.
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