A Modern Satyagraha

Dr. Katherine Phelps

Truth (Satya) implies love, and firmness (Agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force. I thus began to call the Indian movement "Satyagraha", that is to say, the Force which is born of Truth and Love or non-violence.

M.K. Gandhi

a peach

Many of us are facing some frightening and overwhelming issues: how do I live a fulfilling life and do more than survive; how do I live a life of integrity and survive; how can I ensure my support into old age; how can I live a happy, well, and peaceful life? Certainly governments and corporations are doing all they can to exert as much power over our lives as possible and will do this by playing upon these fears, but they cannot take power from us. In some manner often out of a sense of disconnectedness, hopelessness, fear or apathy we give different groups our power.

Imagine how much more enjoyable a life of choice can be, rather than one ruled by fear and no-choice. I wish to create a society where we can live in real freedom, real peace, and genuine happiness. Perhaps others wish to create such a society as well.

Below I have set out a list of ten things we can all do to take back our power and form a more compassionate society. We cannot wait for outside institutions to give this to us, we must take whatever steps we can to create such a society ourselves. Do not worry if you cannot take all the steps listed, just do what you can and little by little add more. Remember every little bit helps. I certainly could have chosen or added other very positive steps. These were the ones I felt would form a solid foundation with which to begin that are supportive of us body, mind, and heart.

* Form a Local Economic Trading System

Those pieces of paper that we call money have a tendency to flow to a few very wealthy people, and then remain there. One way people try to retrieve those pieces of paper is by catering to the wealthy. In the meantime many people have valuable skills that they are unable to exercise because no one is able to pay for them, and many others who have need of services that they cannot afford. A Local Economic Trading System (LETS) is a way of forming a community whereby the giving and receiving of services becomes possible again whether or not you have money.

LETSystems: The Home Page

* Form or join a credit union

Credit unions are owned by the communities who form and support them. You make the decisions on how your money is used by the credit union: how it is lent out, how it is collected, how it is spent, how it is saved, and what charges on the handling of your money seem fair.

* Remove credit card debt

Pay off your cards, reduce your limit, switch to a debit card, eliminate most to all of your credit cards. These are not free money. They are a way for you to be taxed by corporations. You may not be able to entirely remove yourself from their use, but at least aim to keep what you have as debt free as possible.

* Buy quality items that are ethically made

Yes, shopping is a buzz. Unfortunately, debt is not nor is unemployment. When you buy items that are cheaply made and sold at the lowest price, you are encouraging corporations to send jobs overseas to where people are paid less than a living wage. This is not fair to you nor the people of the world. When you buy well made items because you need them or are likely to enjoy them for a long time to come, they are more likely to serve you well from the start, you will spend less in the long run since you will not need to replace the item soon, and you are putting less strain on the environment since you are not wasting as much. I promise you, it also just feels better living without clutter, only with those things that you enjoy sharing your life.

* Whenever possible choose organic cruelty-free foods and products

A healthy compassionate society needs to eat healthily and compassionately.

* Actively form participative communities

Get to know your neighbors. Speak with them about the issues that affect your block. Hold block parties. Get a group of your friends to move into an area together. Participating in communities who share interests is also a place to start becoming empowered.

* Form discussion-service groups

It is vital that we learn how to peacefully discuss any subject. We need to be able to understand a diversity of perspectives and find ways to generate community wisdom and growth. With this wisdom we then need to envision ways that we can improve our lives then take positive action.

* Form healthier living clubs

These clubs will promote good nutrition, exercise, meditation, and mental health within a community. They can be groups of people who may power walk together at certain times each week, or share healthy recipes, or talk about feelings, or take time out together to do progressive relaxation. None of these has to involve money. This step is vital, since learning how to like and care for ourselves is core to becoming empowered and compassionate.

* Choose media consciously

Each week decide on what TV and radio shows you will give your attention to, then turn the TV and radio off at other times. We need to learn how to be conscious customers rather than passive consumers.

* Vote

Make your voice heard. Vote in community elections as well as state and federal elections. Let the world know what your preferences are in a real and official manner. Voting is not just a right, it is a responsibility for maintaining a free and democratic society.


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