5 Things I Know About... Spiritual Activism



In our new podcast episode, we talk with one of the world's leading environmental campaigners, ALASTAIR MCINTOSH. Click here to listen. Below are five highlights from our conversation about the challenges of climate change, the importance of building community, and how to become what he calls a 'spiritual activist'.


Why his most famous community campaign succeeded... "In 1991 I became part of a small group trying to bring a small [Scottish] island - the Isle of Eigg - into community ownership. As well as the ‘outer’ activism - the practical stuff - I believe that what made it succeed was the spiritual underpinning of it. We saw it as the sort of work to which we were called, and this gave us the strength to persevere".


What it means to be a 'spiritual activist'... "Do what you are doing because it is right. Do what you are doing out of integrity. And whether it succeeds or fails is a lesser question. What happens is that when you do that, you start to draw spiritual help to you, and sometimes things succeed in ways you would never have expected. But don't let that be the objective. Let the objective to be faithful to the truth of life. That's spiritual activism".


What it means to love your enemy... "If we love our enemies, in the sense of giving them respect, treating them as worthy adversaries ... then we create potential for transformation. If we do not do that, we actually end up dehumanising ourselves, and we start to take on the likeness of our enemy".


Responding to climate change... "There’s got to be a revolution in consciousness that changes people’s values. You could rightly say that that’s been tried for thousands of years, but we’ve never been in such a mess as we are now. We've [also] never been in the position where we can communicate across the world and across cultures like we can now".


How to be a 'spiritual activist'... "Young people sometimes say to me that they want to do what I do. I say, go down to a local organisation and offer to sweep the floor or do the photocopying. That’s how I started doing what I’m doing. You need to be prepared to put yourself at the service of others".


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