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The “Walk Your Talk” Campaign

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walking the kora

"Walking the Kora" by epidemiks (Flickr Creative Commons)

You might remember that back in April I wrote a post on the 3 Things That Really Bother Me (about myself). In that post, I shared three behaviors I engage in that are out of alignment with my professed values as a human being and socially engaged Buddhist:

1) I pay taxes.

2) I drive a car.

3) Many of my purchases support huge corporations rather than people right in my community.

And I vowed to make some changes.

I realize that shifting these personal behaviors is not going to result in any dramatic improvement in the state of the world (and in fact, as sister blogger Katie Loncke astutely noted, these kinds of individual initiatives can distort our ability to see the systemic picture).

But I do think something can shift inside of us when we re-align our lives in this way, and that often has the effect of making our actions in the world more potent. It certainly gives us more integrity, in the most basic sense of the word.

Since I asked you to keep an eye on me about those promises, now seems like a good time to give an update on my ‘three things.’ So here’s my update:

1) I promised to stop paying the federal excise tax on my phone bill.
STATUS: I haven’t started on this one yet.

2) I promise myself to give myself one car-free day each week.
STATUS: Well, I achieved this one in a kind of strange way. Right around the time I wrote the original post, I broke a metatarsal bone in my foot and couldn’t drive my car at all for nearly two months. Now that I am able to drive again, I have committed to at least one day a week when I don’t get in the car, and have been able to keep that up.

3) By October, I will change the Jizo Chronicles online bookstore from Amazon to BetterWorld Books, a company that donates millions of dollars to support literacy initiatives around the world and is committed to recycling books and other materials.
STATUS: During those weeks of being laid up with the broken foot, I got some time to look into this one! Unfortunately, I discovered that the Better World Books affiliate program is incredibly cumbersome to set up. It’s got a 10-step instruction for how to create a link to each book. Yipes. I’m committed, but not that committed.

However, I did remember that Powells Books also has a good affiliate program, is almost as easy to set up as Amazon, and as a longtime independent bookstore is more in alignment with my values around business. So I’m beginning the process of shifting book links over to Powells. On target to complete by October.

For those of you who noted things in your life that you expressed an intent to change (or if you think of things now as you read this post), I’d be curious to hear how you’re doing with that. Let’s call this our “Walk Your Talk” campaign. How’s it going?

About Maia

I've been practicing and studying the Buddha way since 1994, and exploring the question "What is engaged Buddhism?" since the late 90s. As former executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and editor of its journal, Turning Wheel, I had the honor of meeting and working with many practitioners of engaged dharma, including Roshi Joan Halifax, Joanna Macy, Alan Senauke, and Robert Aitken Roshi. I write about socially engaged Buddhism on my blog, "The Jizo Chronicles," as well as on the theme of personal and collective freedom on my website, "The Liberated Life Project." Through my Five Directions Consulting, I offer support to individuals and organizations who aspire to integrate awareness into their work.

2 responses »

  1. Thomas H. Pearce

    Dearest Maia,
    Before you walk your talk, I’d like to suggest that you think a little more deeply about your vows.
    1. I pay taxes – How far will you take this civil disobedience? Have you tried all legal avenues of protest.
    2. I drive a car. – If you are living for the sake of all beings, then use the car all you need.
    3. My community is the world of all beings!
    For All Being, Thomas

  2. Tom, I’m not sure what you mean by “all legal avenues of protest.” in regards to the wars that the U.S. initiated against Iraq and Afghanistan, I have voted, I have taken part in public demonstrations to speak out against these wars, and I have even been arrested in an act of civil disobedience. I find it harder and harder for me to state that I am opposed to wars like this when my tax money is funding them.

    And I still maintain that driving a car is one of the most harmful things we do each day, without ever really giving it much thought. I’d love for us to think twice about getting in a car for trips that don’t really ‘need’ to be made — and these are most of them — in the same way most of us now routinely recycle plastics.

    And I agree, my community is also the world of all beings. And I believe every choice we make matters in this community.


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