What can you do in your own small way to propel change? Mama Donna Henes, an internationally renowned urban shaman, ritual expert, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader, encourages each of us to do our own small part for change and writes about how our singular actions, put together as a whole, could allow us to create what we want in the world. This piece is a reminder of the ripple effect, of the power of our own voices, of the importance of beginner’s mind.
by Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman
It is so damn easy to feel depressed, frustrated and disillusioned right now. These are terrible times of artificial division, manipulated resentment and palpable fear. The real dynamic being played out right now is not about warring religious, economic or nationalistic factions. It’s not even about war. The struggle is actually between those who believe that the world is defined in terms of opposition — war or peace, right or wrong, rich or poor, with us or against us — and those who are able to see things in a more holistic, congruent manner.
In these deciding times, it is imperative for those of us who see the big picture to decide, to commit, to make a concerted effort to reach out in ever-expanding circles of affinity and embrace. Now is the time to create healthy, functioning networks in recognition and in honor of our mutual state of being and our common fate.
Because there really is still a chance for peace — and that chance will definitely increase if we each do our piece. It is ultimately up to us, each one of us, all of us, individually and together, to create the kind of world in which we want to live — to be the change we seek — starting right here, right now. Within the context of our immediate lives, within the concentric circles of our ordinary interactions. With each step that we take, we must walk our talk, speak our truth and put our money where our mouth is.
I once gave a presentation in Washington, D.C. about creating peace in our world and in our lives. During the question and answer period, a woman commented that she wished that she could drop her job and just devote herself to working for peace. “What do you do?” I asked her. “I’m a therapist,” she replied. Surely she has many opportunities every day to create peace in her professional capacity.
Some might argue that we don’t have any choice in this upside down dangerous world and that we can’t affect what will happen. But even if we can’t immediately alter the course of human events on the world stage, we can certainly create change in our own lives and in all of the lives that we touch. And our thoughts are the seeds of that change.
Dr. Christiane Northrup writes, “Use your thoughts wisely. Understand their power. Thoughts have a tendency to become their physical equivalent. This is one of the fundamental laws of the universe. Another one is the law of attraction, which states that “like attracts like.” Because it is consciousness that creates reality, the kind of consciousness you hold — your vibration — actually creates the kind of life you’re living.”
So our first order of business must be to stay positive. To entertain only positive possibilities. To imagine only affirmative alternatives. To surround ourselves with wholly uplifting, life-affirming people and influences. To align ourselves solely with the greater good so that our actions will be borne of only the finest of our best intentions.
What we all have to do from now on is to stay alert, stay centered, keep connected and most important of all, keep talking. Talking, writing, protesting keeps the light of truth and tolerance shining upon the hidden agendas of governments, industries, institutions, and individuals. Silence, like the dark of night, shelters nefarious deeds. Silence forgives violence.
I have been haunted recently by the words written by a Protestant minister after the downfall of the Nazi regime. “First they came for the gays. I am not gay, so I didn’t say anything. Then they came for the Gypsies. I am not a Gypsy, so I didn’t say anything. Then they came for the Jews. I am not a Jew, so I didn’t say anything. Then they came for the Catholics. I am not a Catholic, so I didn’t say anything. When they finally came for me, there was no one left to say anything.”
Make a statement.
Make a stand.
Make a difference.
In light of the widespread oppression, manipulation, intimidation that surrounds us today, we most certainly need to say something. We need, in fact, to talk to everyone whom we meet, actually engage on a human level with those we encounter as we make it through our day. Not just our families, friends and colleagues — those of presumed like-minds — but also the shoe repair guy, the waitress at the coffee shop, the post office clerk, the bag boy at the supermarket.
A good example is Dianne, one of the wonderful people who regularly attends my ritual circles. She not only prays for the homeless men and women who live on her block, she calls them each by name. I am so impressed and inspired by her personal outreach to the “untouchables.” Everybody is, after all, somebody.
If we ignore, exploit or patronize those people whose lives intersect with ours, how can we expect international relations to be more civilized? We need to walk our talk wherever we go, whatever we do, remembering always, that by doing so we do make a difference. Let us each be a sun, sending our caring energy out into the world, shedding light wherever we go. You never know whom you might touch with the radiance of your warmth.
I have an outgoing message on my answering machine that doesn’t even say, “Hello.” It just starts right in with, “You know there really is still a chance for peace and that chance will definitely increase if we each do our piece. So let’s make peace — in our homes, in our own hearts, in our relationships, in our communities, in all of our dealings and in the world. Peace be with us all.”
Much to my surprise, the very people who I never would have thought would respond favorably, have. The overwhelmingly positive reactions that I have received from workmen, telephone solicitors and service personnel has been an important lesson about the necessity to reach out beyond the boundaries of my biases, assumptions and expectations.
A few weeks ago, I came home to a message from the plumber who was making an appointment to fix my sink. After listening to my taped pep talk, he answered in his gravely Brooklyn brogue, “Yeah, what is this war all about, anyway? Why are we fighting those people? They never hurt us.” This, from someone I would have assumed to be a proponent of the war.
The electrician, another guy who really shocked me, loves the message and calls in daily just to hear it! Once I was here when he called and when I picked up, he complained. “Let me call back again,” he implored. “I want to hear the message. It makes me feel good.” The reason, he explained, is that it is not political. It is personal. And it touches his heart.
But why was I surprised? People are just people, after all. When you think about it, all people are of a like-mind when it comes to living a life unthreatened by hatred and violence. The urgency for war only seems enticing when it is waged elsewhere. Ask anyone. “Do you want bombs and missiles to blow up your house?”
Every parent has the right to put his/her child to sleep each night without any risk of that child being shot, trapped in the midst of some hostile crossfire — be it in Iraq, Afghanistan, Ireland, the Congo, Palestine, or the South Bronx. No one wants to live and work in a war zone.
So, let’s speak our mind, walk our talk, and put our money where our mouth is.
Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, ritual expert, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader whose joyful celebrations of celestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary ceremonies to millions of people in more than 100 cities since 1972. The New Yorker magazine calls her “The unofficial commissioner of public spirit of New York.” She has published four books, a CD, an acclaimed Ezine and writes for The Huffington Post, Beliefnet and UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum. She has created and officiated public ceremonies for two mayors and a governor and serves as the ritual consultant on Hollywood films. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately called, maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, NY where she works with individuals, groups, institutions, municipalities and corporations to create meaningful ceremonies for every imaginable occasion.
Mama Donna’s Web sites:
Watch her on YouTube.
Connect with her on Facebook:
Follow her on Twitter: