When “Do Something” Fails, There is Another Way

When "Do Something" Fails, There Is Another Way

About a 3 minute read

The logical mind wants to muscle its way to the results we want; when muscle is inadequate to the task, we think we’ve failed and we’re out of options.

The heart, on the other hand, is not afraid to invoke the results we want by the quality of our attention and the power of our desire to give what we don’t physically have to give.  

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In a recent post, I compared modern medicine with holistic, nourishing healthcare approaches. A reader responded with a question about the problem that many people cannot afford enough to eat, let alone afford holistic healthcare. 

It seems to be a simple math problem (math that even I can understand): too many people in need and not enough nourishment available.

But the lack we see in the world around us is an artificially created lack, rather than an actual shortage of resources. (For example, research shows that only about 22% of the food produced by the Industrial Food Chain actually nourishes people; the rest is wasted or over-consumed1).

Nature is abundant (when we look after her) but humanity seems to be locked into an experience of scarcity. Why?

Greed is a symptom, not the cause

One apparent answer is that the problem is greed on the part of the haves, at the expense of the have-nots.

I said “apparent,” because greed is itself a response to lack. It’s a symptom, not the cause, of the problem2.

But don’t greedy over-consumers have more than enough?

Yes, they have more than enough of the superficial things. But the superficial things don’t meet deep human needs for things like connection, meaning, and purpose.


All of us are experiencing lack

Over-consumption is an effort to appease the emptiness, the loneliness, the lack of connection, purpose, and true power (power within self, and power with others, as opposed to power over others) that are common experiences in our culture.

All of us are experiencing lack of one kind or another. For some its physical; for others its psychic; for many it’s both.

So, my reader asked in her comment, is there a solution?

My short answer is: No, I don’t know of a straight forward solution that satisfies the logical mind. When we as individuals want to “do something,” there is nothing obvious we can do that would make enough of a difference.

But my long answer is that when all the direct outer “doing” has failed and we’re ready to collapse in defeat, other, indirect, “non-doing” approaches open themselves up to us.

The logical mind wants to muscle its way to the results we want. And when muscle is inadequate to the task, we think we’ve failed and we’re beaten.

The heart, on the other hand, is not afraid to invoke the results we want by the quality of our attention and the power of our desire to give what we don’t physically have to give.   

If we have the luxury that my reader described, of having enough to eat and being able to afford nourishing, holistic medicine, it might be said that we have a moral responsibility to attend to the psychic hunger in ourselves and in the world around us.

We can address this at any time, no physical resources needed. 


Small acts in the building of more abundance for the world

Someone close to you, or someone you meet today, might be desperate for an experience of being truly seen, truly listened to, without judgement or advice.  

If you give it to them, two things might happen: One, you yourself might feel a glimmering of purpose or meaning or contribution – an easing of the emptiness in you.

And two, maybe the person you gift with your full presence and unconditional acceptance might be fortified enough to pay it forward: a small act in the building of more abundance in the world.

And sometimes, the person you take the time to be fully present with might not be another person. It might “just” be … you.

How we attend to our psychic needs and to our inner world, how we metabolize our personal internal experiences of lack3, has a direct bearing on how we collectively are able to address physical lack in the outer world.

Ignoring our own internal sense of lack, in a sense is a way of condoning other experiences of lack in the world around us.


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Endnotes 

  1. Who Will Feed Us? is a report that compares what it calls the Peasant Food Web vs. the Industrial Food Chain.

    It shows that at least 78% of the Industrial Food Chain’s production is wasted or over-consumed; only 22% of it nourishes people.

    Meanwhile, the Peasant Food Web produces more than 70% of the world’s food using less than 25% of the resources — including land, water, and fossil fuels.

    If a fraction of the money spent on industrial agriculture and its subsidies were re-routed to supporting and augmenting the Peasant Food Web, food scarcity and undernourishment could become a thing of the past.

  2. For an in-depth exploration into greed and scarcity, read Chapter 2 of Sacred Economics (free to read online). For a super deep-dive, read the whole book.
  3. If you would like inspiration and support with this and you're up for some seriously mind-expanding listening, I recommend these conversations and also these between Orland Bishop and Charles Eisenstein.
  • Linda Pelt says:

    What a beautiful and inspiring blog you have written! I would love to translate it in my native language (Dutch) and post it on my own blog, with sources of course. Would you be ok with that?

    • Kate says:

      Hi Linda, yes, and thank you for asking 🙂 I used a translation service to get a sense of what your website is about — it’s beautiful.

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