Exploring New Terrain

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Engagement and exploration (continued)

Opportunities for social action or service are often close at hand; big ideas and grand gestures are not required. Grassroots organizer Mirabai Bush offers five simple principles:

  • Be brave
  • Start small
  • Use what you've got
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Don't overcommit

One of her exercises illustrates the interplay between self-knowledge, imagination, and action:

This exercise may help you to find a means of service that will come from what you do well and love. Sit quietly. Either say out loud or write down the words, "The way I'd really love to help is .... " Keep it going ....

One woman, troubled by the plight of homeless people in her area, wrote, "The way I'd really love to help is to work with homeless mothers, because I know if I were homeless I would be scared and tired .... What I'd really love to do is use my camera to take pictures, but what good would it do? What I'd really love to do is be together as people .... "

As the woman continued the exercise, ideas arose, and she was inspired to start a small project teaching homeless mothers how to photograph their children. The mothers developed a new sense of mastery, and their work led to a show that poignantly expressed their vision of the world.