The David & Goliath analogy keeps coming up.
Along with other activists, I’m currently involved in a D & G-type tussle with a very polluting company in Pembroke, Ontario (Canada), & its regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Have a look at the Tritium Awareness Project Web site if you’d like to know more about this.
Now, I was raised in a (nominally if not really) Christian family, & as a child did faithfully attend Sunday school. But my familiarity with the Bible is very out of date.
The very bare bones of the story are that David was kind of a puny little guy who took on big, monstrous Goliath & defeated him in battle.
Along with tons of others, I’ve been engaged in David & Goliath battles for 20 years now. Victories seem few & far between, but there have been some. The enactment of a provincial pesticide by-law in Ontario (Quebec did it first & set the example) has been one memorable & happy achievement, for sure! Hundreds of activists devoted thousands of hours over many, many years, & eventually the work all came together (with outstanding contributions along the way by not just the many individuals who worked so tirelessly for so many years, but also the Toronto Board of Health & the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment) & voilà – no more lawn spraying. Yay!!
I was recently in Washington, D.C. to attend the conference of the Network of Spiritual Progressives (the past few blog posts have also been about this conference) & the David & Goliath analogy was brought up by 2 internationally known & widely (& wildly) outstanding & well-respected women: Sister Joan Chittister & Marianne Williamson.
Both are involved in the NSP. Sister Joan is a co-founder & co-chair (& also co-chairs the Global Peace Initiative of Women), while Marianne Williamson is a personal friend of co-chair Rabbi Michael Lerner as well as being an internationally known spiritual teacher (& co-founder of the Peace Alliance & founder of the American Renaissance Alliance).
(Btw, along with all the other fantastic speakers, all of whom are widely known & hugely respected, neither of these women received speaking fees for their part in this conference. The speakers all paid their own expenses, & were not paid for their participation.)
Sister Joan commented that “Goliath” is “out in the street,” meaning, I think, that it is our fellow human beings – the many millions who are not yet “activists” & perhaps as yet unaware of the depth of the crisis/crises facing our species – or perhaps she was referring to apathy itself as Goliath.
Marianne Williamson also spoke of the David & Goliath story, pointing out that David used his simple slingshot to slay Goliath by hitting him in the forehead – the “third eye,” or seat of the soul.
She also advised that, while the problems we face are huge & hugely daunting, we should “look at the problem, but not stare at it.”
I liked that.
It speaks to me about my own local issue, & it says, “Yes. This is a problem. It is a BIG problem. Work on it, yes, by all means work on it! But don’t be consumed by it.”
Life is about love, & joy & community. We work at slaying Goliath (this is life-long work, after all) – but not at the expense of love & joy.
(Tom Robbins articulated this about “crazy wisdom”: “Crazy wisdom is the wisdom that evolves when one, while refusing to avert one’s gaze from the sorrows and injustices of the world, insists on joy in spite of everything. Ancient Egyptians believed that when a person died, the gods immediately placed his or her heart in one pan of a set of scales. In the other pan was a feather. If there was imbalance, if the heart of the deceased weighed more than the feather, he or she was denied admittance to the afterworld. Only the lighthearted were deemed advanced enough to merit immortality.”)
So. We do what we are called/called on to do.
And we detach from the outcome. The outcome is never guaranteed – nor can it be.
But, since, as I’ve said elsewhere, activism is its own reward, an activist I will continue to be.
As Sister Joan Chittister puts it, “If you are expecting to see the results of your work, you simply haven’t asked a big enough question.”
p.s. As I’ve also said elsewhere, there is so much joy in this work because of the company we keep. Fine, fine, fine people. How does life get any better than doing challenging & rewarding work in the company of utterly awesome friends & colleagues??
p.p.s. I suppose my own personal slingshot is my voice??
p.p.p.s. The posting 'Courage, Apathy & Evil' may be of interest.