Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

Choosing Battles

There are a great many people in the world who would like a piece of my pie, and I have come to the conclusion that the situation is not likely to change. Through no virtue of my own, I was born a member of the haves, and that is just the way it is.I used to worry about that. It seemed to me that there ought to be some way to redistribute the wealth of the world in such a way that everyone could have what they needed. That vision has driven my conscience and my life in various ways for a long time.

I have recently come to realize that such a utopia will not likely come to pass in my lifetime, and probably not for many more. As much as I hate to put it this way, it is simply human nature to take as much as we can get and, within fairly broad limits, not worry about how the other guy is doing. I fought this view of reality for a long time, because I so badly wanted things to be different. Well, too bad. It is what it is. Thus.

What, then, can we do–those of us who try to live a compassionate life? The answer, once we accept the reality of the situation, is obvious: we do what we can. My desire is not going to change national politics, regardless of how much energy I put into it, but I can–when I feel strongly about issues, individual politicians, or policies in the world arena–lend my name to petitions, “get out the vote” campaigns and similar efforts. However, I do so at spiritual peril, (and risk wasting my efforts,) if I do not choose fights that have a chance of being won.

Some issues or battles are winnable with my help. Politics on a local level is within my reach. If I am active in my party, I may be able to influence choices of delegates to conventions and decisions of that sort, but the likelihood is that I will have set my sights a bit high even there. I can let my opinions be known, but the political machine is run by others–who have their own agendas.

Are those the best venues for my efforts? I need to ask myself what I am trying to accomplish, and decide how to expend my limited resources efficiently. Others will be fighting the good fight politically. If I see them falter, I might want to step in. Otherwise, why reinvent the wheel? Better to let them fight the battle they have chosen, provide what support I may, and use my own energy on something that is not already being adequately addressed.

And what might that be? The plight of the local homeless? Assistance at a retirement home, at a hospice? An outreach program for children at risk? A grassroots effort to effect some political change on a local level? Who knows? Locally, I can make a difference, but if I spread myself too thin, I risk wasting the greater part of whatever it is that I have to offer.

I need to choose my causes carefully, not based on the rhetoric of others but on what I know myself–on what moves me. An avocation is a terrible thing to waste

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