If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world. – Confucian Tradition

On Remembrance Day, I found myself reflecting on war and protest and the struggle to change the world. I have never been on a peace march. I have never tied myself to a tree or a tractor. I have been to one protest rally in my life, dragged there by a friend. My form of activism has always been with a pen. Well okay, a keyboard. I write articles, I write to editors, politicians, corporations. And that is all well and good because I believe we need all forms and that people will plug in where they are most comfortable and able to feel that they are contributing. I also believe wholeheartedly in non-violent protest, that violence only begets violence. But I admit to losing my temper, on more than a few occasions, when I feel passionately about a subject and the direction is not going my way.

Recently, I was reminded that the first order of the day when trying to remake society is to remake ourselves, that real transformation does not depend on governments or multi-national corporations. “Those who transform anger into compassion, selfishness into selflessness are the greatest activists,” said the late writer and activist Eknath Easwaran. “There is no greater activist than the one who drives out greed from his own heart and restores the ideals of humanity to youth.” One of the secrets, he says, is to be detached from the results of our actions; to give it our all and then let it be. It’s what Gandhi meant when he said: “Full effort is full victory.”

If only I can remember that the next time things aren’t going my way.

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