Societal Change

There is a crying out for societal change in the wake of the violence laden, gratuitous murder of black men and women with impunity by some disturbed policemen. In my observation over a lengthy lifetime (thank God), I have noticed one main factor that could favorably effect such change over a prolonged period of time.

 Such effect is “social homeopathy”, or the introduction of a micro input that creates a macro, societal change.  Or in other words, a little goes a long way. Social homeopathy can be observed in the actions and activities of agents of historic social change: Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Hitler for example.

Gandhi is a poignant example of social homeopathy. In an era of oppressive, British colonial rule, he developed a doctrine of nonviolence based on the Christian principle of “turn the other cheek”. This micro input of his doctrine aroused the consciousness of his Indian brethren to boycott foreign products, stage hunger and work strikes, thus uniting the country and inspiring immense societal change.

Gandhi’s influence in India exemplifies how a micro input evolves into a macro output. One step by one person, his teaching of nonviolence, leads to a powerful shift in consciousness. In the current-day example of the murder of black men and women by police: sentencing one aberrant policeman to jail would have the potential for reshaping the entire landscape of American justice. This sentencing would implicitly shift the interaction between police and minorities to embody collaborative conversation, and common ground.

While we engage in actions for social progress, the real change has to start from within.  The term change has a distinct meaning in spiritual life. In the spiritual context, we concern ourselves with inward searching and gleaning the purposes of life. An inner change emerges from this experience of knowing thyself. The need to subjugate and dominate others is replaced by a sense of inner freedom and a power in the service of freedom. This revelation produces a different attitude toward life that shifts our frame of reference. No longer concerned with surpassing others in pursuit of our own needs, rather we’re each aligned with a larger consciousness that thinks, lives, and feels unconditionally; serving others constructively, gratuitously without having the goal of material reward in mind. The will to power is replaced by the will to love.

This inner shift, the detachment from the fruits of this world, on a global scale will be the foundation for social progress. We seek here a change from the pursuit of selfish pleasure, which often forsakes the care and well-being of others, to one of harmlessness and considerateness toward others, while helping the disadvantaged in their travail, trials and tribulations. After all, Gandhi’s activism that led to the independence of India only began with a spiritual vision of living in harmony.