Martijn Schirp 5 min read

Be The Change, Be The Hero

Self Improvement SelfProd

Be The Change, Be The Hero

Life is a dance

Where we had the waltz in earlier times, a slow-paced and fixed dance we have dubstep in modern times, much faster and chaotic. In the same way the pace of life has gone up a notch or two aswell and life isn’t fixed anymore, it’s faster and more chaotic. Where once you could rarely visit another city, now the whole world is in your home with a click of the mouse. Increasing interconnectedness at an accelerating rate. We call it progress. And indeed, it is progress. But what exactly are we progressing to? Because some of us are aware that we have been running this rat race for a long time now and are asking ourselves if it’s still worth running. Because if the goal is to have more, faster and better stuff we have now, it’s not, it just isn’t worth running anymore. Time and time again it has been proven it only works as a temporary anesthetic to distract us from the worlds most pressing problems that are seriously too many to list, but I sum them up as follows: The world as it is now isn’t a better place to live, it doesn’t produce better individuals and we aren’t much happier. It might all fall apart tomorrow. And somehow, if you raise your hand to ask the question, what the hell are we doing it for then? Everybody is staring at you the same way as if you’re the wallflower at the dance floor and that you just ought to dance like everyone else. But you only see everyone dancing to take the girl home, not at least caring about the dancing itself. And it makes you sad.

Now, if life is a dance and for some reason (good ones I hope!) you can’t dance on societies tune, you either become the wallflower and have no say in anything, or start make a different tune with a different dance. And that’s what I see happening around the world right now and I hope HighExistence will provide the marching bass!

Having the right moves

I strongly believe in practicality. We can discuss the barriers that prevent us from achieving world peace untill the big crunch falls on us, it won’t get us anywhere. Discussing is good, you need to know where the pitfalls are and how to avoid them. But, at one point, you need to get to action. This is why I find it hard to commit myself to groups like The Zeitgeist Movement, I have no clue what I can do in my daily live to help their cause and move the world away from the problems they pointed out brilliantly. If watching and reading stuff like that has no influence on me as an individual, except putting on social criticism glasses, then what good will it be? If my actions can’t resemble my thoughts, I’ll stay a wallflower forever.

This idea has been captured in the profound statement of Mahatma Gandhi; Be the change you want to see in this world. This particular quote is often mentioned in circumstances where one needs to express themselves in a way that they understand that change is necessary, it must come from without oneself and one is willing to be that change. I think everyone agrees that change is necessary, change towards a ‘more conscious living’. If you also believe that it must come from the individual itself then it’s a small step to be willing to be that change. And this is where the hard part is. What should you do? The problems are so big, what can I, poor little me, accomplish?

Every action is a vote

I’d like to propose the following idea. Every action, everything you do, is a vote. We don’t only vote for elections, we vote for brands and celebrities, we vote between happiness and sadness, between accepting and rejecting. Everything you do, every word you utter, every product you buy, every organisation you join, is a vote. It is a vote for what you do, and against what you don’t do. Let me give you some examples.

If you buy a pair of nikes you vote for the existence of sweatshops. (Alternative is fair trade clothes)

If the bank you’ve chosen invests in weapons, you vote for killing. (Alternative is banks that don’t and these mostly use your money to invest in much better sustainable causes).

The real use of your money

Abusing or let pharmaceutical companies abuse you by taking prescription drugs you don’t really need but ‘is the easy road’ you vote for the chemical numbing down of a whole society. (Alternative is, well, it’s too bad nobody can remember the 60’s)

If you buy McDonald’s you are actually ‘eating up the Amazon’.

If you buy Coca Cola you are buying a product from a company (like many others) that is spending more money on commercials than on their product. Do you think that is because their product is so good that they can’t bear the thought that someone misses out on it?

When you judge someone you vote for one more person to get hurt.

If you watch Jersey Shore you vote for the numbing down of meaning. (Alternative is to watch documentaries like Inside Job)

When you smile you vote for at least two more smiles in the world.

What do you vote for?

You should aim to be the hero

Now, who exactly is this hero? The indoctrination of Disney has made us believe that there is no such thing as a hero anymore. Because the typical hero in movies is someone who is born with something special, get’s an assignment and a team of little helpers and saves the world in a few days. In between he rescues the maiden, is guided by the wise old man and gets superpowers or supertoys. Clearly this never happens in the real world and so we forget there is anything like a hero anymore. Someone we look up to and try to emulate. We also see the hero on television as the lawyer, the cop, the soldier, the racetrack driver, the wise professor, the king and the warrior. But always in situations that never resembles the real world.

I believe the real hero takes time to understand the consequences of his or her behaviour and acts accordingly. And in this way, everyone can be a hero. The ‘ordinary’ firefighter, cop and teacher are heroes. The whistleblower that risks his own safety is the hero. The guy or gal that helps an old person cross the street is a hero. The person that is a vegetarian because he/she is against factory farming is the hero. Everyone that makes this world a better place is the real hero. So join your local buddhist center, do some volunteer work, grow your own organic food. Choose to be different, choose to be better. Because YOU are the real hero. And never forget, we all have a voice in this world, and even though we can’t say for sure what the effects of that voice will be, the effects of our behaviour will resonate forever throughout the universe, with its ever-increasing entropy and tendency towards complexity. From all angles, it seems to me, that this is a great power and as once has been said, with great power comes great responsibility. And we can choose to be intimate or hostile with the earth that gave birth to us. We can love or hate the world. We can be greedy and selfish, or generous and compassionate. We can close our eyes to the horrors caused by our actions or we can choose to turn our heads and face them.

If you hear the beat, will you dance with me?

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