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community MLK personal engagement personal engagement social change

Get Over Yourself

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” The core of this statement forms an essential understanding of Heartspace. Everyone should be connected to something larger than themselves. In order to be engaged in something larger than themselves, everyone should know about Heartspace.

The engine of engagement resides inside everyone, everything, all the time. Youth, children, moms, dads, teachers, workers, politicians, protesters, painters, palletmovers… everyone should stand taller than themselves. Heartspace seeks to position each of us squarely on the shoulders of the giants who lived before us. Each of us should get out of our own heads, out of our own bodies, and to find compassion, empathy, and ultimately, solidarity with others. We can only do this by sustainably connecting to the world around us. However, paradoxically, we can only do this by connecting to the world within us.

Where people are fighting for rights, many have fought before. When people are taking more responsibility, they are taking it from someone else. Everyone must learn to advocate for people and places other than themselves. This way our communities can educate against ignorance, learn from elders, and form global movements for unity. At the center of community is Heartspace, and everyone is an integral part of the larger whole. All sustained connections rely on all other sustained connections, which forms the Sphere of Engagement, which in turn overlap to create a mosaic of Spheres which we can only begin to fathom.

Rumi chastized his readers once, saying “Why cannot you who, as a people, can well claim to be the first practical exponent of this superb conception of humanity, live and move and have your being as a single individual?” He saw that as a people they were too concerned with their small engagements to be concerned about larger engagements. Heartspace encourages each of us to elastically reach from within to outside, all the while moving beyond “the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

The lessons within Heartspace have been taught before. Seeing them in their whole, instead of as their individual parts, is what is new. Lao Tzu wrote, “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself, if you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” This is how personal engagement, community engagement, and universal engagement are interrelated. As strands of connectivity within Heartspace, each acts as a motivator, supporter, expander, and retractor according to how we act, interact, react, and detract from it. Heartspace supports our consciousness as we expand our understanding of the worlds within and around us.

This shows why it is true that when you have uncovered the things that anchor you to yourself, it immediately becomes necessary for you to reveal Heartspace to others. The knowledge and experience of engagement should compel each of us into the world to encourage others to connect within themselves and to the world around them. Heartspace is about getting over yourself by getting into yourself.



CommonAction is available to train, coach, speak, and write about this topic across the US and Canada. Contact Adam to learn about the possibilities by emailing adam@commonaction.org or calling (360) 489-9680.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

By Adam F.C. Fletcher

I'm a speaker, writer, trainer, researcher and advocate who researches, writes and shares about education, youth, and history.

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