Humility in activism - practicing asteya, or non-stealing


Have you heard of the term "performative posting," or "performative giving"? The idea is that we are showing what we're doing, so that people will approve of us, or think we're a good person. Given the period of waking-up that's happening in our society, there is a lot of desire among people to not be viewed as a part of the problem.


That said, we know that part of the waking-up that is necessary, happens through increased awareness of many serious issues. So, how do we increase awareness about a topic without posting about it or being public about it? How do we act as an ally, an advocate, a champion of a cause, without being performative?


Perhaps the concept of asteya, or non-stealing can help with this. When we are being performative, we are potentially "stealing" or borrowing from the issue at hand, for our own personal benefit. Ultimately, people can accuse one another of acting in a performative way, but only each individual knows what their true motivations are. Just as cultural appropriation is using another's culture without permission and context, associating ourselves with a cause or issue that we don't spend significant time with regularly can be disingenuous.


Are we using these issues to prop ourselves up? To feel better about ourselves? To atone for earlier uninformed behavior? That could all be viewed as versions of "stealing" from a cause.


So, how to do we engage a topic without stealing? Maybe by practicing "beginners mind," can help us to avoid the trappings of ego-related propping-up of ourselves in a public way. We can remember that we're all just learning, and that we, as individuals are learning. And if we can steer this direction, perhaps we can also steer away from the alluring trap of self-righteousness that is creating so much division among our families and communities. Perhaps we can focus on humility, which is not making ourselves smaller, but rather right-sized with regard to the topic at hand. If we are an expert in a topic, we own that. If we are exploring a topic, we can own that - especially when being public about it. And when we're a fledgeling learner, we can sit in that place as well, being right-sized, and not stealing from those being most impacted by the issues at hand.




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