There are three types of people who usually don’t mix with each other.
Activist type people, as I will call them, are usually neither spiritually-inclined nor economically empowered.
Particularly in Germany, but also in other places I’ve been, I’ve found that activists are predominantly atheist or at least not particularly into spiritual stuff. They often disregard the “energetic” aspects of their actions, for example the fact that violent action tends to create resistance and more violence in answer.
They are also usually not economically empowered. In these circles “capitalism” is disdained as one of the major reasons, if not THE reason why the world is fucked up. The trouble is, they fail to define capitalism, and it ends up meaning something like “dealing with money at all”. Then, their lives become pretty disempowered as they struggle to live a sustainable life while earning and spending as little as possible and also engaging in activism. From what I’ve heard from a friend in the more hardcore activism scene, these people tend to drop out at around 30 and start leading a “normal” life. The constant instability and discomfort gets to them eventually.
Then, there are spiritually-inclined people (I prefer spiritually-inclined to just “spiritual”, because just because you put on airs doesn’t mean you’re more evolved than someone else who’s never read a spiritual book in their life). These people tend to be neither activists, nor economically empowered.
Spiritually-inclined people often want to change the world but I find that they tend to talk about it a lot more than they actually do it. Actual physical action tends to come difficult to these types, because they have a tendency to focus on grandiose big-picture visions without ever getting down to Earth and thinking how they can actualise them in reality. In fact, they often disdain physical action, because they see it as being violent or low-energy. (This may seem to contradict my views in a previous paragraph: the fact is, I think there is a time for fighting in the more traditional sense, and there is a time for spreading love and light and all that). They are sometimes made fun of for trying to “hug their enemies to death”.
These people are usually not economically empowered either. Trying to earn money is definitely seen as “unspiritual” in most such circles. The image of the ascetic is often looked up to as an ideal, a person who is so spiritual that they don’t need material things to be happy. (I often ask these people why they need to be incarnate if they just want to meditate all day – can’t they do that in the ether?)
Finally, there are economically empowered people. Either they went the conventional route and got into a job which earns better than minimum wage, or perhaps they tried entrepreneurship. Either way, the most common vision of someone who is doing well for money is neither someone who is spiritually-inclined nor an activist. I think a lot of people who spent a lot of energy on their careers just never felt the pull towards anything else. It could also be that they didn’t have much time to think about such things.
I’ve even found people who expressed maybe two of these things, but not the other. For example, I know a few spiritual activists (“lightworkers”) who are not financially empowered and constantly find money a frustration and a roadblock to their efforts. Uh… me, for example.
I also know some spiritual people who seek and achieve financial empowerment, but in doing so have become I think too uncritical of capitalism as a culture as opposed to just money exchange. Their talk about spiritual money-making reeks of classism and privilege to me. Often, there is this idea that being rich makes you more spiritual pretty much in itself, rather than potentially e.g. born into the right race, nation, and family.
And I know one or two well-off spiritually-inclined people who just don’t seem to understand activism topics and think that you should just “think positive” and not notice the injustices in the world. (I guess if you’re rich, white, heterosexual, male, and cisgendered, the world can seem quite just…)
I, personally, would like to find a balance between all three of these sides in me. I want to be at once an activist and spiritual and economically empowered. I don’t buy into the idea that any of these things are incompatible. Actually, I think it is absolutely the opposite.
If you are truly empowered by money and don’t let it own you, then being well-off can give you so much power to dedicate yourself to activism and spirituality without constantly having to worry about instability and discomfort and not having the resources you need for your efforts.
If you are really into activism, then I think an understanding of metaphysics and energies and the flow of the Universe is a powerful tool. This may sound airy-fairy, but I believe it is anything but. Seek and you will find as they say (you can seek within this website for starters); I think it’s possible to find empowering information you can rely on without having to give up your critical faculties if you just look.
I believe Love (and kindness and compassion) is a powerful force for change. I don’t think we should hug our enemies to death, but I think every serious activist should think about how this force can help us and work synergistically with our practical efforts.
I also think spirituality and particularly self-work (which may or may not be overtly spiritual in nature) can help us break through blocks which hold us back from becoming economically empowered. Alchemy as a spiritual path particularly helped me here.
It all intersects.
Spirituality awakens our compassion, which makes us want to change the world through activism. Being economically empowered alone can feel hollow, so I think spirituality and activism are necessary for such a person’s complete fulfilment. And activism requires both money for stability’s sake and, I believe, some kind of spirituality to prevent everything seeming dark and hopeless and hollow.
So there you go. Drop the false dichotomies and become a whole person. The world is depending on you 😉