Look at your social activism ebbs & flows to find what’s calling you now




The conversations I find myself having with others, the articles I am drawn to, the thinkers I revere, are currently inquiring into this – how might I/we contribute anew to the social good in the reign of Trump.


If you watch the news—as my wife and I do, both fascinated and horrified—do you flash through these gut-twisting questions too:


  • Outraged: how can humans perpetuate such horrendous suffering upon on billions of individuals, children, the poor, the disenfranchised, animals, our air, land and water?
  • Dumbfounded: Why can’t we awake up that we are all one?
  • Responsible: What is my part, however small, in both the suffering and its resolution?


My point in this article: 1. Consider this vital inquiry again: how might I/we contribute anew to the social good in the reign of Trump. 2.  I think there is a soft way. 3. Re-connect with the unique ebb and flow of your caring for causes over your lifetime. 4. Let that re-ignite that part of your soul anew. That part of your soul is important, vital, worthy of resurrection from the dead. We need it activated now.




Try this simple experiment: Name several causes you’ve cared about, worked for, or donated to. Write them down now. More may come to you, as you read this.


Now let me take you through a little of my social activism, in the hopes that it will stimulate you to re-ignite the activist energy, perhaps dormant in your soul.


Flash Back to 1968 – 1969:


I am innocently ensconced as a sophomore at Swarthmore College, a top liberal arts and Quaker/Pacifist school in the nation. Monday night October 12, 1969, at 3:12 AM, nine FBI agents swarm our communal house at 3:13 AM. We are violently woken up with shining flashlights in our sleepy eyes, holding guns on us as we are herded to the living room. Turns out they are looking for Weathermen, the violent wing of the SDS (Students for Democratic Society). Looking back on the night that traumatized and radicalized me, I am shocked that, until that raid, I was too self-absorbed to get the political realities:

  • Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and Fred Hampton are assassinated
  • 500,000 march on Washington in protest of the Vietnam War
  • Richard Nixon becomes President of the United States.

That FBI night-time raid shocked me into political action: protesting for the next three years, marching in Washington DC, locking the Swarthmore dean out of the administration building, and doing radical political theater pieces (modeled after the Beck’s revolutionary Living Theater).


All that social activism ended rather un-dramatically, upon graduation. I flew with several friends to London. We started off on an overland journey through France > Spain> Morocco > Algeria > Tunisia > Italy > Albania > Greece. They rolled in a Volkswagen camper van; I drove a 500 cc Triumph motorcycle! In Athens, the group fell apart with infighting and sickness.


I continued solo: Samos > Northern coast of Turkey > Tehran > the great deserts of Iran > Afghanistan > Pakistan > Hindu Kush > …


I crossed the Pakistan-India border the day the two nations declared war on each other. Bombs were falling through the air, exploding in the streets of downtown Deli, India, as I scurried to the American Express office where I might receive mail from home. Dodging bombs, I decided enough world travel was enough world travel. I returned to New York City to join a radical theatre group.


I think back to the reasons all my Swarthmore protests and passions died on that road trip:


I was sleeping in farmer’s fields at night, fearing for my life … eating at roadside food stalls I had no idea what I was eating, wondering if I would get violently ill (indeed, I laid in a hovel in Kabul for nine days, retching, and then only able to barely hold down only creamed spinach for days) … I had to find water and gas in impossible places, like deserts.


All of this brought my social activism and revolutionary fervor to a stop. Once I got out of Europe, I had unwittingly  joined 71% of the world living under $10/day. Like them, I had to survive, politics be damned. The social activism ebb was upon me. I went on from there to flow through founding two non-profits, various social activism trainings, and other causes.


Your history with social benefit causes will be different than mine. This is a wonderful fact. God uses us in many different ways. Please re-connect with your own, unique ebb and flow of caring for cause beyond yourselves, so that you might re-ignite this part of your soul anew, in the reign of Trump. You will need your soul, going forward, as we consider how might I/we contribute anew to the social good in the reign of Trump.


Fast Forward to Trump’s Election 2016:


Were you shocked too on that fateful night in November 2016.


But the trauma to my social activist soul was building all through 2015-2016: ISIS beheadings, lone wolf attacks, the relentless trauma from one year of the presidential campaign.


When Trump won, I went into “freeze.” This shock and paralysis is an overstimulation of the dorsal vagal nerve — instead of leading to fight or flight, it leads to “freeze” as a defense, like a possum freezing to protect itself.


Van Jones and his Denver “We Rise Tour” helped me to consciously decide to end my shock and trauma. Perhaps I could not have been so decisive at the Van Jones event if it were not for the magical and synchronous events in my life, all conspiring to re-waken my social activism.  Have events in your life been whispering similar things to you?


  • a yoga workshop: we were invited to shake our whole bodies for three minutes (this is a professional technique from Peter Levine’s trauma work for unwinding shock in the nervous system).


  • inner work: when my father died in January, buried dramas in our family relationships erupted. As I was partly the cause, I began another round of examining my life-long defenses. In my case, self-absorption. Do you know your life-long pattern of defense? Engaging this inner work brought serving others into the foreground of my life anew.


  • my wife: frequent discussions (and prayers) with my wife about what is our calling now in the reign of Trump? how are we to serve? what are we to contribute to world service?


  • My men’s group: recurring discussions about our role in social activism. I was inspired by member’s commitment to protect local Eagles’ ecosystem, leading a fundraiser for voting registration, etc..


I listened to all of these synchronicities, and let them re-open me to the deep longing inside my soul to re-engage in social benefit for all.


Is This Your Pattern Too?


It was fascinating for me to see the pattern of flowing full out for a cause, then gradually having it ebb into the background. I presume this same pattern has happened for many of you reading this. It seems to me to be natural to ebb and flow with the various social causes, which Spirit brings us to in different chapters of our lives (assuming we are paying attention).


Now I hope you are inspired to revisit this simple experiment:

Name several causes you’ve cared about, worked for, or donated to.


  • Where are you in the ebb and flow of commitment to social benefit?
  • Can you feel that recalling your unique social activism history (however large or small) might re-mobilize you?
  • Can you now connect better with that part of your soul that wants to contribute?
  • Are you willing to tolerate this process of “re-awakening the dreamer”, so you can hear a highly specific, committed action calling to you?


May our soul’s calling rise like the phoenix,