Practices: Putting Values Into Practice
. . . to borrow a phrase from Jesus of Nazareth, we’ll be known by our fruit. . .
Our witness isn’t what we say we believe or even what we think we believe.
Neither is it the image, pose or posture we try to present to others.
It’s what we do, what we give, what we take
and what we actually bring to our little worlds.
A close partner of developing religious attitudes is acting in ways that reflect one’s values and beliefs. This can apply to personal morality (in acting with integrity, even when no one is watching), direct interactions with others, and attempts at to contribute to a community, or a nation, or groups of people in far-away places, or to the world at large.
While a goal can be to try to achieve positive outcomes, spiritual value can be gained through intent and activities. For, while we don’t have power to control how others respond, we have our own ability to try, and to serve as examples.
This may be done with an attitude consistent with a statement in the Bhagavad Gita:
“perform every action sacramentally, and be free from all attachments to results”.
It can also fit with Roger Gottlieb’s view, that “Although spiritual social activists . . . certainly want to win – pass the better law, overthrow the repressive regime, end discrimination – they also believe what they do has value even if they do not succeed. In standing for the moral truth as they see it, they have faith that they are embodying the same force of life and love that has brought them, and everything else, into existence. . . .
spiritual activism is not about ease or happiness . . . Rather, it is about a vital affirmation of existence – that the painful combination of good and evil, justice and oppression, miraculous and horrific is worth loving and fighting for. Even if a particular campaign or battle is lost, even if the entire future is bleak, we will not surrender to the forces of cruelty and insanity. By some mysterious cosmic calculus, it matters what we do.”
A wide range of activities are available to put values into practice, to further personal and social well-being.
Lobbying for creation, enforcement, of public awareness of laws support moral/spiritual concerns (ecologic balance, treatment of animals, and other causes)
Work at charities, food banks, assistance to elderly, community gardens, or other activities
Tutoring, Big Brother program, ongoing courtesies to strangers
Personal health and well-being
With attention to exercise, diet, some are “religious” in commitment to practices that show respect for the body and are intended to contribute to longer, healthier life.
Contribution and support
Acting in ways that increase awareness and show support for causes, and contribute as one among many, as in recycling, driving energy-efficient car, installing solar panels, avoiding food and products from endangered species, supporting “fair trade” merchants, etc.
One approach to acting in ways that demonstrate attention to impact on the environment has been described as eco-kosher, as it identifies certain behaviors that harm the environment as morally unacceptable and not to be done.
A related practice involves “putting limits” on some things we do – such as not eating certain types of foods, or not driving one day a week – to remind us that we are part of a self-limiting context, and that we humans have a special responsibility – to live in harmony with and sustain a planet that has limits.