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Be the Change

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“You must be the change you want to see in the world,” said “Mahatma” Gandhi, who led India to independence and inspired human rights movements worldwide – all by dramatically living the simple, nonviolent life he preached. We now see this quote everywhere: at churches and yoga centers and political rallies and on workshop flyers and bumper stickers. But what does it mean?Gandhi stood (or sat) against armed adversaries. He withstood years in prisons. Without violence, he fought off an empire and brought a new level of dignity to the caste of “untouchables.” What Gandhi didn’t spell out for us is how we too might “be the change.”We are part of the the most free, the most powerful, and the most consuming nation on Earth. Our most difficult battles are with ourselves. Meanwhile, Mother Earth is crying out for each of us to be the change, to become the best possible person — not “some day“ but right now. At some level, we know that.Maybe we tell ourselves that we can’t change because we’re not Gandhi. We feel we lack his courage, his strength, the power of his will. Maybe we believe that our change won’t re …

Stephen Kiesling is a former Olympic rower, cocreator of the Nike Cross Training System, and editor at large of Spirituality & Health. A 35th anniversary edition of The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence has just been published.


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