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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Emrys

A Gentle Revolution

Independence Day is being celebrated this month in the U.S. Other countries do the same thing for the same reasons. They pay tribute to past revolutions and celebrate the end of hostile occupations. Surviving generations honor the day their ancestors won a victory over their oppressors. It’s safe to say that freedom is a big deal, no matter where you’re from.

What about your personal freedom, and mine– the one that has nothing to do with our people or our ancestors? Well, winning personal freedom looks very much like any other kind of revolution. Personally, we feel the weight of an oppression we can’t name. We’ve grown unhappy with the current regime, you could say. So, we rise up and demand change. We become warriors, but against what?

It took the Toltec teaching for me to get a clear perspective on what it meant to be a warrior. In the war that matters, I was on my own. My mind was the oppressor, seeking freedom from its own oppression. There was only one battlefield, and only one participant; so there was no need to incriminate anyone else.
I can see how this idea may not be appealing to many people. Most of us seem eager to identify and attack some outside enemy instead. But what if we were less antagonistic about other people’s ideologies and life-styles, and instead turned our attention inward?

What if we acknowledged the hostile occupation in our own heads? What if we were willing to wage a quiet war there, just to liberate ourselves from our own private tyranny? And, hold on. What if we actually won that war?

Every conflict known to man originates in our minds– on our private battlefield of ideas. We’re not just fighting other people’s ideologies. Our beliefs are in conflict with each other, each one competing for attention, each one determined to win. What’s good and what’s bad? Who’s right and who’s wrong? What is truth? What’s a lie?

We’re fighting ourselves most of the time, and then taking that fight out to the rest of the world. We can win the inner war by taking inventory of our beliefs. We can take the time to recognize how many of our ideologies generate fear. Then we can face that fear, and conquer it. We can start a gentle revolution, fight it vigilantly, and win.

Imagine not needing to be right anymore, or not wanting to make someone else wrong. Imagine that, and then make it happen. Never mind the constant bombardment of other people’s opinions. See how your own beliefs have the potential create chaos in the sanctuary that is your human body. See it, admit to it, and make a change.

Forget good, bad, right and wrong. Wake up to the fact that you feel awful when you go against yourself. Notice how you damage a dream when you disrespect others. Make new agreements. Write up a peace treaty with yourself, and honor it.

Go on, win the inner war and bring some peace to your world. This kind of revolution may not warrant a public holiday; it won’t be noted on anyone’s calendar. It may never be celebrated by the dream of the planet, but still…you and your people will feel the difference.


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