For the month of June, Buddhist Action Month (BAM!) encourages us to explore new Dharma responses to social and ecological justice, exemplifying compassion and ethics as a united force for good. The spirit of BAM is to try something new, in solidarity with others, for the benefit of all beings. The theme for BAM 2018 is Transforming Self, Transforming World.
Transforming Self, Transforming World
Transforming Self relates to the emerging evidence of how unhealthy our technology habits can be, socially. In itself, technology is simply a tool. It’s the way we use technology that influences our mental states that is of consequence. Getting absorbed by a screen can eclipse our awareness of others, of place, and obscure our clarity of mind. Let’s take June to evaluate our relationship to screens and technology. Try something different (e.g., change your settings, tech curfew), and share your experiences. If you take on other BAM, then observe the role that tech plays in those contexts. An evaluation of habits is an examination of lifestyle.
Transforming World invites us to contemplate the big picture, to reflect on and describe the world we wish to inhabit. Several current political thinkers say that the 21st century urgently needs a new myth. George Monbiot notes that religions are well-placed to “create a kinder world” because of the intrinsic values they promote which, in his words, include “empathy, understanding, connectedness with other people, self-acceptance, independent thought and action” (2017, p. 9).
If you think that Buddhism has something to offer the world and the future, then let’s get involved with this! Regardless of tradition, Buddhism offers a treasure trove of myths and stories that depict the cause and effects of greed, hatred and delusion, and offers countless formulations and lists on how to transcend the mire of samsara. Let’s use June to envisage, with fierce courage, the world we want to inhabit and the legacy we wish to leave. Be specific. If you can find examples of ideas that currently work, please share these as links. For example, I envision a future in which waste, as a toxic by-product, does not exist. Happily, there is a town in eastern Japan, Kamikatsu, that is effectively Zero-Waste. Real-world examples demonstrating aspects of our hope for the future are invaluable. You might like to consider using one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to inspire your BAM activity, thereby engaging with a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
Building a BAM community
Compiling these as ‘BAM dreams’ collectively would be a wonderful result for BAM 2018. Twitter is an excellent tool for compiling information under specific hashtags, so let’s use #myBAMdream2018 for our visions of the future. Let’s use social media for what it’s worth, and infuse it with Dharma and goodness! Use it mindfully, and join the BAM community by sharing your experiences on the Facebook page, and on Twitter using the hashtag #BuddhistActionMonth and #myBAMdream where appropriate. For example: