What banners do you wave?
Banners are a rallying point. A call to action.
Banners are waved by those who share a passion for a common cause. They demand urgent resolution to a terrible injustice.
Membership in a cause is a dangerous business. The cost of admission is giving up a big part of our emotional freedom in exchange for bearing the emotional mantel of the group.
Each banner waving member must allow themselves to become intertwined with the unified feelings and beliefs of the cause. In this way, the emotional well-being of each member is tethered together; rising and falling precipitously with the successes and failures of the group.
The path to self mastery is directly tied to our pursuit of personal freedom. Freedom that can only be achieved by taking full responsibility of ourselves and our emotions.
Therefore, we must never allow ourselves to fall into the trap of becoming a banner waving member of a cause, unless it is truly worthy of our time and attention. Worthy causes are those that:
are of grave importance to us and
stand for something better.
Our passion for the cause must burn so brightly that there is no way to extinguish it --unless we participate in righting the wrong. The cause must give us meaning beyond ourselves. We volunteer ourselves only if we possess a deep knowing that our life's purpose demands that we stand up.
Any other cause that attracts our tepid interest must be avoided at all costs. We cannot allow our feelings, relationships or ego pull us into something that saps us of our freedom.
Stand for something better
The cause must have a clear vision of what it is fighting for and a strategy for achieving it.
Any other cause will ultimately end in failure, and is therefore not worthy of anyone's time or attention.
To do this, we assess the cause's creed. Does the banner wave:
for freedom or against repression?
for equality or against the privileged?
for prudence or against excess?
for charity or against greed?
for wisdom or against ignorance?
for good or against evil?
Causes that demand something better are bound by a mission to improve the world for everyone. The emotional tie is one of certainty, optimism, equality and freedom.
Once the mission is accomplished, the banner waving members can regain control of their emotional freedom, knowing it had been temporarily loaned out for a higher purpose.
Alternatively, causes that stand against something exist for the sole purpose of destroying (or complaining about) a common foe. The emotional tie is one of doubt, fear, anger and helplessness.
Should the group succeed in their mission, the victory will be temporary. The lack of a clear unifying vision of what the group really wants, or what will happen when they win, will leave a void where their old enemy once stood. That space will likely be filled by yet another evil that will need to be conquered -- in many cases by one of the members of the original cause.
What banners do you wave?
We are living in an emotionally charged world, one that is filled with causes. Sadly, many of them gain influence by preying on our doubts, our fears, our anger or our helplessness.
Many of us have taken the bait and find ourselves emphatically waving banners for causes that don't stand for anything.
We must rip ourselves away from such fruitless ventures. Only then will we be able to step back and determine what we really want.
We should aim to never allow our negative emotions to influence our behaviors or decisions.
However, like physical pain, emotional pain is an incredibly valuable tool for letting us know when something needs to change.
Distancing ourselves from our emotions often reveals that our pain is being inflicted by an internal foe. In these cases, we must face our emotions with compassion. Avoiding them by fighting against things "out there" will never offer us any lasting relief.
The act of accepting that all of our emotions are valid (even the shameful ones that are hard to face) will provide the space we need to discover what we must change for the pain to subside.
We will discover that our foe is rarely "out there". Our causes only serve as convenient distractions from facing ourselves.