The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.
Yann Martel, The Life of Pi
As I started to clean off a shelf in my office, these words on a scruffy page of notes leapt out at me. I’ve been struggling with the location of the battlefield for good. It seems this statement comes at a time when I am ready to take it in.
Last year I experienced a nasty event in the public arena. I had to look a dragon in the eye, experience trial by dragon, then accept the fiery gifts that I did not want to receive and allow myself to be transformed by them. I now recognize that the whole experience was a test, to wee where I located the battleground of good to be.
It feels much easier to lash out when agitated by others and rage at their ‘bad’ actions. It take more energy to shift the battlefield into the inside of me, to recognize that in lashing out, I am diminishing energetic progress to the good.
Demanding others to be better, to be more good, does not come from a place of good within me. It comes from a place of fear within me.
I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary…
Yann Martel, TheLife of Pi
The battle for good is within me because it is from within me I see the rest of the world. The choice of what I send out into the world and and receive from the world is up to me.
It takes more energy to put my attention on myself and how I experience the world, but I’ve noticed that when I am open to being reshaped by the world around me, the world and I seem to fit better together. When I shut down to the world around me and fight it, more and more fighting seems to take place out in the battleground of life.
It all starts with listening.
That was perfect, I thought: you listen to people so that you can imagine them, and you hear all the terrible and wonderful things people do to themselves and one another, but in the end the listening exposes you to even more than it exposes the people you are trying to listen to.
John Green, Paper Towns
When I allow myself to open to the world around me, and hear it, it changes me. It allows me to be the best citizen I can be, from the inside out.