How Should We Then Live?

If Praxis is about nothing else, it is about How Do We Live Our Lives and support those things that create the world we believe in, and do not support those things that create the world we do NOT believe in.

The past few weeks have been a challenge for all of us.  In the last 30 days alone we’ve had the Orlando shooting, confirmation of the Democratic and Republican presumptive nominees, international terrorism in France, Black men shot by Police in Baton Rouge and St. Paul, Police shot in Dallas and Baton Rouge, an attempted government coup in Turkey – not to mention countless other incidents – positive and negative – that affect each of our lives personally, our communities of interest, and the world beyond.

It is easy to retreat into despair, or strike out in anger, or even attempt to ignore what’s going on, and be oblivious to the changing and uncertain atmosphere that affects so many of us.

Given the many changes going on in our world today, Our Question to You is:

How should we then live?

  • To improve the situation around us – including our peace of mind, attitude, outlook, interactions with others, and thereby be part of the solution to creating that world consistent with our values?
  • To be more aware of those around us who are hurting, or angry, or unloved or ignored?  Even a smile rather than a retort, a nod rather than a scowl, a helping hand rather than turning away, or a quiet listening ear when someone expresses frustration, despair, or even joy, lets people know and feel that they are connected — to people, even to a community of people, rather than marginalized, forgotten or ignored.
  • To recognize that even our modest actions may have impacts on others – positive or negative.  One of the lessons we learned in Civics Class (do they even teach Civics anymore?) was that my right to do something ends where it impinges on someone else’s right to do something.  It is one of the essences of the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”)

Today’s public discourse is more about doing unto others before, or to prevent them doing unto us.  And if thwarted in this, to do something outrageous because we are outraged.

Perhaps we could take a step back, a ‘chill pill’, and ask ourselves, “If I was in the other’s situation, or being denied something I thought I should have, how would I feel, act, respond?  Is what they are seeking or acting out about actually affecting me and my loved ones?  If so, how?  Can I understand why they are acting as they are?

Is there something I can do that may get me what I need, without adversely impacting another?  Or something I can do that may even improve the other’s situation?

Could it be a smile?  A nod?  A helping hand?  A listening ear?

  • Can I be more aware of how my actions may affect others?

We have manners, and laws, and customs in order to lubricate personal interactions – very important in an increasingly diverse population, and in a world that is becoming smaller.  If we become irked when there is confusion or misunderstanding about the custom or practice, perhaps it would be useful to be curious rather than furious.  Rather than “Why would you do such a thing?” maybe “I’m not familiar with doing it that way.”  Or perhaps letting the other know what you need, e.g. “Are you able to step aside?  I need to get through.”  At least it provides an opportunity for the other person to say, “My stiff legs don’t quite move as they used to.  Just give me a moment.”

Patience is a virtue.

St. Francis is often credited with the saying, “seek first to understand then to be understood.”  If just a couple of our daily interactions were moderated by this saying, the world would become much easier to navigate.

What can I do?

This summer as we are hyped up on fast-moving events, on the political conventions, on the rights and wrongs going on around us and around the world:

  • Could we perhaps acknowledge each other’s humanity?
  • Could we smile at each other, just once more each day?
  • Could we nod in recognition just once?
  • Maybe hold a door open, or assist someone with their packages?
  • Or even spend a minute — or a few — listening to someone who needs to vent, or is sad, or even wants to share their happiness?

Your one act of humanity may be the thing that calms one person who is at the end of their rope; or makes one over-wrought mother hug rather than hit her child; or one person step back from the abyss of a bad action.

Because you’ve shown them a kindness, and with that they see that there is a bit more to hope for than they thought.

Will this solve the ills of the world?  No, not alone, but it will make a difference.  And we have to see and affirm each other’s humanity.

Many of us use the expression, “be the change you want to see in the world.”

The actual quote is below:

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.  As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. . . .  We need not wait to see what others do.”   Mahatma Gandhi

With that one smile, nod, action or ear you are being the change you want to see in the world.

 

Ask Us!

What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?

How can we help you to do that?

Praxis Values — Praxis Values is a web-based enterprise helping users shop in line with their values. These individual actions combine to become “communities of influence,” whose impact on the issues that are important to them can be measured. Through Praxis Values, one supports the core values of environment/ecology, economy, social justice, political/advocacy and culture/education.

Praxis Possibilities — Your home is your individual way of living. You want to make sure it will accommodate your lifestyle, your furniture, your Values, your dreams. Can you imagine the possibilities? We Can.

Food for Thought — Getting Started

This issue is about how to get started in an arena where you are not the expert. I believe that you ARE the expert in what you want and how you want it. The following articles are not endorsements. But they are food for thought . . .

Zen Habits   How do you start something new?  Whether it’s beginning an exercise program, getting going with a task you want to complete, or creating a new business or product from scratch — how do you get started?

How to Start Spreading the Optimism  Optimism.  It can turn a situation that looks negative or bleak into an opportunity or something to learn from.

Stop Existing and Start Living  Okay, so your cubicle is boring, you haven’t had a good date in what seems like decades and every day is the “same old, same old” with nothing happening to make you feel revved up and excited.  Clearly, that’s no way to live.  But the key to getting the life you want is to make changes in your routine and kick it in the a** a little bit . . .

Stop Waiting for Life to Happen and Start Living It Now  For a while there, I was a little peeved with the world. I’ve just recently snapped out of it, and I just want to sing and dance and share this message with everyone: Stop waiting!  Last year, after living through some profound experiences—travelling extensively, soul searching, attending incredible life-changing events, shedding massive masks, overcoming huge obstacles, and deciding to change the course of my life completely—I came back to my life, to my home, and sat back and thought to myself, “This is what life is about!”

First Step Towards Your Calling  In the ancient story form of the Hero’s Journey, there is a moment early on where the hero must answer a “Call” and take bold step beyond his/her ordinary world into untrodden territory. This moment is often referred to as “Crossing the Threshold” because it quite literally marks the departure from life as we knew it, into a whole new world of adventure, purpose and possibility. This moment may come with walls of fear and resistance, mystery and apparent risk, but somehow something calls us, beckons us, quietly demands us, to step on through.

Start With Why  Feel inspired and inspire others.  Do you know your Why? The purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do? Simon Sinek’s online Why Discovery Course can help you articulate your unique Why statement.

How should we then Live?

So, now that I have these new thoughts inside me, and greater Awareness, how will that affect what I do and how I act?

Awareness is the ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something.

The first and primary goal is greater awareness – being aware that my actions have an effect, that my individual effect, when combined with others, is impact, and that the greater the impact, the greater the systemic change.

Your actions can change the world! Use the ‘nifty links’ to become more aware of where and how your actions make an impact. Read the articles in the ‘Food for Thought’ to recognize how easy it is to just start, or to be more aware of how we often hold ourselves back from taking action.

Nifty Links that help you Live in line with your Values

Here are a few websites that may help you to know if the thing you are about to plop your hard-earned money down on is something you really want your money to go to!

Good Guide — Find safe, healthy, green, & ethical product reviews based on scientific ratings.

Green America — Our mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.

Consumer Reports — For nearly 80 years, Consumer Reports has empowered consumers with the knowledge they need to make better and more informed choices—and has battled in the public and private sectors for safer products and fair market practices.

Buycott — Buycott helps you to organize your everyday consumer spending so you can fund causes you support and avoid funding those you disagree with.

Charity Navigator — Charity Navigator works to guide intelligent giving. By guiding intelligent giving, we aim to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome our nation’s and the world’s most persistent challenges.

If you have other Nifty Links that you’d like to share, please do so here!

What is important to you? What ‘Communities of Influence’ do you want to be part of?

At the core of Praxis is the ability to be part of Communities of Influence, so that your individual actions can become part of collective actions, and you can see the difference that you are making.

What Communities of Influence do you want to be part of — or create?  Below are several general categories, and you can add others.  (‘MDG’ refers to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals’)

  • Environment/Sustainability
    • Ensure Environmental Sustainability (MDG)
  • Economics
  • Social
    • Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women (MDG)
  • Education/Culture
    • Achieve Universal Primary Education (MDG)
  • Politics
  • Eradication of Poverty (MDG)
  • Reduce Child Mortality (MDG)
  • Improve Maternal Health (MDG)
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases (MDG)

How do you decide?  Consider things that you buy often — food, clothing, gifts —  or big decisions you are about to make — furniture, vacation, a car.

You might think in terms such as: “I’m concerned about the environment, so I want my new dining room set to have the best environmental impact possible,” — and therefore the Community of Influence might be ‘Environment/Sustainability.’

Or, “I am now aware of some of the impact of child labor among our international trade partners.  I want my kids’ new school clothes to not be made with child labor,” — and the Community of Influence might be ‘Child Labor’.

So, let us know what ‘Communities’ you are interested in!

Steve

Welcome to Praxis!

Welcome to the Praxis Blog! This is a space where we can all comment on, question or just plain agree (or disagree!) with the content or the direction that Praxis is taking.

We want your input and opinions, and Praxis will move forward with the ‘low hanging fruit’ which is what YOU are most interested in.

We are committed to presenting you with new content regularly, and hopefully challenging you to act, measure your actions and even become an activist.

Each purchase, each Community of Interest, and each act of advocacy is what changes the world. Each action can be in line with — integral with — your values, and be an act of Integrity.  Welcome to Praxis, and Welcome to your Future!