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My friend Duff posted a link to – as well as some scathing commentary on – Steve Pavlina’s recent post about resolving global conflicts. Pavlina is of the view that the war in Iraq can best be addressed by meditation and consciouness-raising; Duff believes this is a myopic and narcissistic approach and that the oil crisis is not going to be served by sitting on a cushion and thinking good thoughts. My personal view is that they’re both right: I’m including my response here.

It takes a tremendous amount of courage and awareness to get to the point at which we realize our responsibility for the violence in the world and the situation in the middle east. So many of us prefer to see the problem as “out there” – as something beyond our control – instead of taking an clear-eyed look at how WE are responsible for it. The more we raise our awareness, and the more we’re able to respond to the world and to those beings in it with love and compassion, the more we’ll be inspired to tread lightly on the planet, to reduce our dependence on oil, and to contribute to peace in the world.

What other route is there? Coercion? Forcing people to behave in more peaceful or less exploitative ways? In my view this merely displaces (if not downright exacerbates) the problem. So while I agree with Duff about the paramount importance of reducing our dependency on oil and of working to reverse global warming and directing our efforts at creating more sustainable communities, I’d also bring up Al Gore’s point in An Inconvenient Truth. We already HAVE the techologies available to us. What’s required is a shift in perception. What’s required is a change in our belief systems . . . there must be enough of us willing to adopt the practices and processes that already exist. And this willingness amounts to, really, a shift in consciousness.

It is imperative for people to understand that we can’t compartmentalize the problems we face — nor can we externalize them. Peak oil, war, overpopulation, global warming, the environmental destruction of the planet, soil erosion . . . these are all OUR problem, all the result of the way we live in the world, the result of our day-to-day lifestyles, and the result of the fact that we are OF the world. Our problems stem from our unwillingness to see this. We need to move to the level of social consciouness in order to care about the planet, and in order, thus, to change. This is why meditation is importance. It enables that fundamental realization.

So I think they’re both right, and that the two approaches are not separable. But then, what is?

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