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Fighting for a just cause is empowering

Written By: - Date published: 8:49 am, October 8th, 2018 - 29 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, quality of life - Tags: , ,

The recent passing of Penny Bright got me thinking about her tireless and fearless fights. Other people came to my mind too, e.g. Helen Kelly, Lecretia Seales, and Nelson Mandela.

Some people talk about their “calling”, others mention “purpose” or “dream” or “faith” (not necessarily in a religious sense); there are many words for essentially the same thing and often it isn’t expressed or explicitly labelled but simply some kind of an inner feeling or intuition.

What these people have in common is a strong conviction, an inner strength and energy that keeps them going, day after day, even when the going gets tough. Undoubtedly, they face obstacles, challenges, frustrations and disappointments; it comes with ‘territory’ some say but don’t we all experience these kinds of life’s curve balls?

Some may succumb to the thousand denials & deniers, the negativity, the ridicule, the countless falls & get ups and they may give up and then often become bitter cynics or angry persons.

How do they know that they’re fighting (for) a just cause? How do they know that what they do and who they are has a purpose, a true meaning? They cannot be absolutely sure, that would be bordering on obsessive, and doubt may well be their constant companion. But even if they leave the path so to speak, they will return to it again, as if an inner guide or compass redirects them back. I reckon this is one hallmark of a “just cause”: one never gets truly bored or enough of it unlike so many other (fruitless & futile) pursuits in life.

I admire these people who obviously have found or discovered their just cause, somehow, somewhere, sometime; it never is too late …

I may not necessarily affiliate with their cause but these people are truly inspirational especially once you get to hear their story, often deeply personal and very moving, sometimes after they’ve already (long) gone …

But here’s the thing, it’s not just the people that we know and that we hear about; there are many more ‘ordinary’ folk, great unsung heroes, who quietly go about their just cause, whatever that might be.

And one more thing, it never is about them! They genuinely and deeply care about others; they are forgiving and compassionate and give (time & love) without expecting anything in return.

There are two quotes (there are many variations on the theme as one can imagine) that capture the essence:

A life not lived for others is not a life. [attributed to Mother Teresa]

and

A life not shared is a life not lived. [unknown]

What’s your just cause?

29 comments on “Fighting for a just cause is empowering ”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    My just cause the past three decades has been advocacy for Gaia. I see it as a spiritual imperative: humanity must transform its relation to nature from parasitic to symbiotic.

    Sustainability has been the buzzword but I prefer the deep context. Our management of climate change is now a collective survivalist agenda – the time for trendy Green slogans is passing.

    Musing on the relevance of this social media forum; the About page frames its just cause as the Labour movement, but seems to me the focus of contributors has moved on from that limited priority – and rightly so. It would be interesting to run a poll here to find out how many participants still identify with Labour. Or with labour. How many identify as working class, and how many as middle class, and how many claim no class identification whatsoever? So in respect of just cause, given that politics is driven by common cause collaboration more than by the competitive fray, on what basis do we now define common political ground?

    • Incognito 1.1

      Thanks Dennis.

      The question at the end of my post could be taken either literally or rhetorically, as an invitation to contemplate one’s own vision for life, for example. Or to be completely ignored, of course.

      To answer the question at the end of your comment, the way politics has taken shape, here as well as elsewhere, is that we focus much more on what separates and differentiates us from one another. As a consequence we can’t even contemplate the possibility of common political ground let alone see one. Therefore, our immediate and most pressing common just cause is to make up for lost ground and bridge the divide, which exists much more in our minds and attitudes (figments of our imagination) than in actual reality. This is why I tend to chuckle when people bleat TINA when in reality they mean: I cannot see it any different therefore it cannot be any different.

  2. Gosman 2

    The trouble with fighting for ‘just causes’ is as you put it “How do they know that they’re fighting (for) a just cause?”. Just fighting for other people doesn’t mean you are fighting a just cause. Your quoting Mother Teresa highlights this problem most succinctly. While many think she was selfless her (many) critics accuse her of causing more suffering and harm than good.

    • Ed 2.1

      Agreed.
      Not sure Mother Theresa is the best example.

      Yet true socialist heroes like Mandela, Chavez, Castro et al show the benefit of a life well lived.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Missionary_Position:_Mother_Teresa_in_Theory_and_Practice

      • Gosman 2.1.1

        Castro lived a very privileged life compared to the ,majority of his sorry countrymen under his rule. Ditto Chavez.

        • Dennis Frank 2.1.1.1

          You could also add the trainee priest turned meteorologist who ended up ruler of an empire, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (Stalin).

      • Incognito 2.1.2

        The example of Mother Teresa was deliberately chosen, Ed.

        You know what would have happened if I had picked Chavez or Castro instead [this is not a question].

        What do you think of Ghandi as an example?

    • Incognito 2.2

      I was expecting a comment like this, and it’s a valid point, so thank you raising it.

      Firstly, fighting a just cause is not the same as a moral crusade. People make mistakes, they go about it in ways that may not look wise in hindsight. But people also learn from these experiences and grow and change their ways to better, more effective ones that possibly cause less ‘collateral damage’. Strong-willed (stubborn) determined people who have a very strong conviction sometimes only listen to their inner voice at the expense of good advice from others and this can indeed be detrimental to the cause.

      Secondly, the word “fight” should not be misconstrued with an aggressive stance to gain dominance, power, and control of and over others, for the sake of it.

      Thirdly, as I alluded to, when people go up against entrenched structural or institutionalised ‘wrongs’ they’ll inevitably meet harsh resistance (class warfare anybody?). In my view, much of the negative consequences are often a direct result of this resistance – you know the saying about the two elephants and the grass. BTW, there always will be critics but they’re almost always not ‘activists’ and therefore they are not on the same level playing field as the ones they criticise – something that some MSM-paid employees seem to forget (or ignore) too easily …

      None of this constitutes and argument against ‘fighting’ a just cause, whatever that might be. Nor does it negate my thesis that a just cause is empowering.

      What’s yours if I may ask?

  3. Chris T 3

    Of all the number of things I could have predicted happening to me this morning, reading someone comparing Penny Bright with Nelson Mandela would never have been one of them.

    She was a pretty cool chick, but geezes, a bit reality always helps

    Re Gosman’s comment on Mother Teresa. Indeed

    The more you read about that woman the more abhorrent it gets.

    I would like to hope she was just nutty and misguided rather than just plain evil.

    • Dennis Frank 3.1

      Reality wasn’t actually his point. Just cause motivations arise from deep within. I suspect they originate in reincarnational karma but since we can’t ever know that it just reminds us that a fundamental part of the human condition is eternal mystery.

      The thesis that just cause is a common motivation is robust, as anyone who has read history or observed current affairs & politics for any length of time will know. Don Brash & free speech, for example. So the similarity of Penny Bright to Nelson Mandela derives from the psychological motive within. Leftists often use social justice as a label for it, or civil rights.

    • mickysavage 3.2

      So Chris T and Gosman who do you both admire and why? Who in your view is living the sort of selfless life that Incognito describes?

      • Gosman 3.2.1

        I don’t trust anyone who trumpets themselves as living a ‘selfless life’. I admire people who treat others with respect and who avoid abusing their position for personal gain however that is not the same as being selfless. People who have achieved great things for others have also become fabulously wealthy. This should not preclude them from admiration.

        • McFlock 3.2.1.1

          Anyone who “trumpets themselves” as anything is probably not much of an example to follow.

          Personally, I think the people get points for trying to do good, but the cause is usually judged by history.

          As for good being done by the fabulously wealthy… well, on the flipside of the account is what they did to get so wealthy. That almost never happens without a little bit of skullduggery.

        • mauī 3.2.1.2

          Exploiting gaps in the market, making obscene amounts of money, offshoring jobs that enables extremely poor working conditions and environmental standards I wouldn’t really call a selfless act.

    • Incognito 3.3

      Well, I named (connected) Penny Bright and Nelson Mandela in the same sentence but you made the comparison, not me. It wasn’t intended as a quiz like: who does not belong in this group? Rather, it was to build, support, and illustrate a rather broad argument.

      The religious concept of “plain evil” is a whole post (or 100) on its own. FWIW, I think it is largely a myth – think Hannah Arendt.

  4. mauī 4

    Wonderful post, thank you.

    • reason 4.1

      Agreed maui …. R.I.P Penny.

      One of the few times I was watching mainstream TV news was during the Northland bye-electcion ….. Caused by Mike Sabin saying bye bye in very murky circumstances…..

      …. On TV the news John Key had been wheeled into the electorate and was doing a walk about some Northland town …. but Penny was there …. stalking him.

      Key, his minders and the national entourage looked very flighty and nervous …. checking whether the coast was clear ….. It put a big smile on my face …. and like the woman who threw a dildo at steve Joyces fat head ….. a lot of kudos and esteem from me.

      I know Penny used to exasperate some with her long copy and pastes … but some replies explaining some points to her ( not the abusive replies ), used to teach me things … and thats always good.

      Penny was a tireless fighter of corruption …… she helped raise the profile of this problem ……. and we will all be better off when New zealand finally properly addresses and deals with it.

  5. bwaghorn 5

    What did ms Bright achieve??

  6. gsays 6

    Thanks incognito, great post.
    Thanks Dennis for kicking it off
    The responses also illustrate what shits me about behaviour on this site and politics in general.

    Are the time of writing this there are 5 comments (not including replies)and three of them are choosing to quibble about detail or parade their own ego (opinion, attitude, wants etc) rather than than contribute to the vibe of the post.
    Two even when asked specifically who they admire chose to reiterate an irrelevant point.

    To answer your question, for me it is youth that I see as a just cause.
    Helping out in different ways, volunteering at cubs, helping with the local community garden and in the past – involved in youthline and participating in Big Brother Big Sister Tuakana Taina.

    http://bigbrothersbigsisters.org.nz
    I find it to be deeply satisfying.

    • Incognito 6.1

      Many thanks for sharing your thoughts, gsays.

      I’m very happy with all comments so far; it has surprised one and stimulated a few very civilised exchanges and so far nobody has been pushed out or away by any other commenter. I think that’s pretty good going. I agree that the first comment on a post can set the tone.

      Let’s now see what’s lurking @ 7 and below 😉

  7. Stuart Munro 7

    I enjoyed teaching when I had enough creative control to make it interesting to my students. I was a passionate organic gardener back when I owned my own property. But the niche jobs I once did no longer exist here, and poverty constrains my remaining enthusiasms.

    • Incognito 7.1

      Thanks Stuart. Any community garden in your neighbourhood? Schools often have gardens that they use for teaching & education and some of the children really get into it. Just a suggestion.

      • Stuart Munro 7.1.1

        Cheers – I did teach refugees for years too, & repped a union for a bit, I’m kindof waiting for something to catch my imagination atm – got turned down for a prison literacy thing a while back for no obvious reason – a bit sour on institutions nowadays. I’m toying with a harakeke hemicellulose to ethanol trial but can’t go very wild – may have to pack up & move.

  8. Robert Guyton 8

    If everything in my world turned to custard, I would console myself by remembering the trees I’ve planted or raised for planting by others. It doesn’t take much, “fighting” for a cause (mine, like the Lorax, is for the trees; bar-ba-loots and swomee swans too). In fact, having a “do-able” cause that doesn’t require support is a recipe for satisfaction and doesn’t preclude having others to go with it; I’ve submitted on bills, marched through the centre of town, written (innumerable) letters to the editor, etc.) but when it comes down to it, I’ll be thinking of the trees…

    • Incognito 8.1

      When I was young, much younger, I wanted to be a tree. I’ve only planted very few in my whole entirely life but I can remember them as if they’re my children. My current ‘baby’ is a Kauri. Just one and I hope that that nasty disease won’t get to it.

      I just remember Barry Brickell and the thousands of trees he’s planted; I doubt that remembered each and every one of them but then again I wouldn’t be too surprised if he did.

  9. greywarshark 9

    This morning the radionz news about the looming climate change and the need to act within TEN years and change our ways. Writing here about matters of importance and meeting minds that are churning out ideas and hope is a cause that will lead to action that will help millions.

    The OIA and the right for government funded entities to be able to criticise, report to the public on their concerns is another free speech matter to fight for. A worthwhile cause.

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