30 November 2012

Inner Peace: Step 1 For Creating Change

On the last day of Unit 5 (mining), we had our final exchange of the semester. We were given the opportunity to ask any questions about the issues discussed throughout the semester as well as philosophical questions. While sitting in the exchange, I realized that this semester has taught me an immense amount not about specific issues, but about the various ways to analyze these issues. I realized that any project, governmental or local, has consequences/effects on multiple groups of people and the environment. More than that, I realized the wisdom of those affected by these issues. All the villages we stayed in, all the people we met with, all the stories we heard; they all carried with them life lessons that I will carry home with me and hold on to for the rest of my life. I learned my final lesson in that very exchange.

Suvit Gularpwong (P’Suvit), an NGI (Non-Governmental Individual) residing in Loei province, taught me this lesson.

It is easy to become caught up in the race of life. Whether to get a promotion, to find the next big thing, or to simply to make more money; our lives are constantly on the move. To aid in this race, are technological gadgets such as laptops, cell phones, and of course, the Internet. We are constantly focused on external goals—a meeting, a business deal, an assignment. Rarely do we stop to take time for ourselves. Rarely do we take time to simply enjoy the beauty of the world around us.

Our final exchange of the semester was at P’Suvit’s home. Located in a remote area, his home is surrounded by a lush organic garden and his roof boasts a set of solar panels that generate enough electricity to last 2-3 hours per day. He spends his time working with villagers fighting against local mines and dams. His lifestyle is simple, but at the core of it is his realization that happiness comes from within.

P’Suvit realizes the importance of seeking your inner self to find peace within this fast-paced world. He states, that the limited electricity requires him to use creative methods of living. He has to figure out different ways to cook due to not having a fridge; he has to figure out how best to use the 2-3 hours of light. He finds great peace in living this simple life. It carries out onto his work as an NGI as great patience is required when organized villagers and creating effective change. He said that in the beginning, when he did not see results of his work, he would easily get frustrated. He said that overtime, he realized that now, it’s not the end that matters. It’s the fact that he is indeed doing something about the problem. He is taking the action he can. In the end, the journey is what matters.

Many of the villagers we visited this semester lead very simple, hardworking lives. Yet most of them are happier than people back home in the States. Issues like development, politics, and globalization can easily consume us. However, change begins from within. Corporations are run by human beings who are still caught in the race of external happiness; of obtaining endless heaps of money. They cannot be told to change, because they will not understand. The realization must come from within and that is how good living begins. The same applies to politicians caught up in winning the race. Effective governing can only come when instead of focusing on winning the race, or “keeping the seat,” politicians take time to truly analyze issues and implement policies that will create effective change.

I have learned to focus on inner change, because only then will I be able to create any kind of change in my outer world. 

Gargi Bhakta
University of North Texas


Jackie Creed said...

I found similar situations in the Dominican Republic. One weekend, we stayed in a rural area called Rio Grande Abajo and we even got to stay with a family while we were there. Being from the city, I had very little rural experience and imagined all the manual labor, the hardships of getting by and a lack of opportunity. What we we really saw there was calm and happiness. While the people had limited resources, they seemed to be very tranquil and happy. They made the best of what they had and had an incredibly strong sense of community. I am used to having the extra things in U.S. culture, for example I was nervous about a one week trip where we did not have access to phone or internet. These experiences also showed me that happiness comes from inside yourself, rather than any amount of external luxuries.

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