Activism
as Love in Action

Claire Milne

1 March 2021

For me activism is Love in action. Not that goey, gushy, always nice and kind type of love. No. I am talking about Love that is fiercely compassionate and deeply transformative.

A love that cuts through the crap. That gets to the heart and history of the matter. A love that can feel unbearable to let in because when we do we also have to allow its ally, grief, to get a look in too.

Our grief for this world. A world on the brink. A species down on its knees whilst our other-than-human allies demand that we ask ourselves some pretty darn uncomfortable questions. A society choking ourselves on a greed that thrives on fear, desiccating the very web of life our survival depends on. Perpetuating the power-over model of relationship that our day-to-day lives and societal structures stand on the shoulders of, in our deeply conditioned, yet false, belief in scarcity and separateness.

Inner-Led Change

At Starter Culture we see radical inner-led change as the antidote to our fear and greed and the consumer shaped emptiness, disconnection, destruction and despair it breeds. When we are in rich relationship with our inner worlds we are no longer afraid of our emotions – rather they become our friends and allies, they connect us with our creativity, passion and empathy and they empower us to expand into a fierce compassionate love – transforming our relationships and our capacity to fully participate in co-creating the world we are longing for. Radical inner-led change is our key to freedom – and to becoming allies in the liberation of those and that which are most marginalised in this world.

Radical inner-led change is what patriarchy and capitalism are most frightened of. It connects us with a power that is infinitely more potent, enriching and meaningful than money, materiality and the fear, deceit and disconnection they are built on.

And this fiercely compassionate and transformative love demands that we each take a good, hard and compassionate look at our complicity in all this. Not to beat ourselves up and render ourselves helpless in our guilt and despair, nor to become so possessed by our fire and outrage that we burn all bridges in sight. No, radical inner-led change demands that we take responsibility for transforming our cultural conditioning, and any privilege that may come with this, whilst knowing that whatever side of the victim-oppressor-rescuer triangle history predominantly places us, it is not our fault, but healing and transformation are our responsibility as part of our wider earth community.

This fierce love demands radical inner work. This courageous love is about burning up the deadwood that keeps us stuck in our cages, that stops us from speaking out when we know something is not okay or from actively listening to others when our privilege has conditioned us to think we are always right.

It is about actively participating in co-creating the life-affirming world we long to be part of.

Healing and wholing

It’s as much about cultivating our inherent health and wholeness as it is about healing our wounding in relation to our culture’s limited capacity to love. This healing and the expansive love it awakens involves learning to embrace all of our-self – and especially those parts which our culture has conditioned us to resist, repress, hide or deny by burying them away in our ‘shadow bag’. By coming into relationship with these exiled parts we automatically start to feel compassion when we experience similar ways of being in others - when perhaps previously we may have been judgemental, repressive or rejecting of them. 

Collaborating across difference

This radical inner work is our direct route to expanding our capacity to love unconditionally through a deep process of radical inclusivity and self-love. In the absence of this our efforts around embracing diversity, collaborating across difference and anti-oppression and social justice work, will always fall short of meaningful change. It is only when we embark on this process of radical inner work that we can truly open and expand our hearts and get closer to living as unconditional Love in action. 

And being able to collaborate across difference requires us to tend to the relational field between us all. To really examine how we show up in our relationships and groups and do the inner healing and wholing work needed to be able to more and more come into relationship in healthy, honest, authentic, generative ways. Without this tending to the relational field it is simply impossible for us to transition away from the patriarchal power-over culture that has co-created the pickle we are currently in.

At Starter Culture we believe our species to not only be capable of this but that this process of awakening through self-awareness is precisely what the world is longing for through us right now.

We believe the future of our species rests on each of each of us embarking on our own unique journey of radical inclusivity in service of co-creating the relational cultures our collective future depends on. We see this as the root to becoming more and more empowered to act from a fiercely compassionate and ever expanding place of love in service of the earth’s dreaming and our own unique soul purpose within that.

Mid-wifing cultural death and transformation

Our current and escalating mental health crises is a clear fall out of the wider crises we are in as a species. This is being epitomised by our global pandemic and recurrent lockdowns.

This mental health fallout feels like clear evidence that our old and destructive culture is already beginning to die to make way for something new and more fit for purpose to be birthed.

We could even say that this process of cultural death and transformation is flourishing in direct allyship with the current covid pandemic. And that like all processes of death and dying it is unearthing so many of our long buried feelings and emotions.

Most crucially, it is the absence of support and resourcedness around the inner dimension of life that is leading to our escalating mental health crises - which tends to then further undermine our individual and collective capacity to co-create more life-affirming cultures.

When death, of an individual or a culture, is accompanied by support and resourcedness around the inner dimension of life, we are able to meet inevitable emotions like fear, grief, anger and sorrow in healthy and transformative ways. It is when we lack the resourcedness around this inner dimension that these emotions lead to crises in mental and physical health - burnout, depression, anxiety and trauma being the most common. 

Our escalating cultures of burnout, polarization, 'othering' and unhealthy group and power dynamics and conflict, personify the symptoms of our mental health crises. It is this that needs to die to make way for something new and life-affirming that places love, intimacy, compassion, creativity, beauty, pleasure and play at its heart - in sacred and reciprocal communion with our whole earth community.

It is very clear then that making support around the inner dimension of life widely accessible to all - and especially to those most marginalised by our mainstream culture, is a vital aspect of us being able to navigate this cultural death gracefully and catalyse the transformation wanting to happen in its wake.

Willing cultural death is of course seen as a radical stance. Rarely do people deliberately encourage things that are likely to cause pain and death. However being willing to turn towards and learn to tolerate the fear and discomfort of cultural death and dying is an essential part of transitioning to a life-enhancing world. This is why it is essential for more and more of us to speak openly about this even when it is an unpopular perspective due to the fear it elicits and the inevitable sacrifices it requires.

The role of Starter Culture

Now, for some of you reading this, you might be starting to feel a little uncomfortable with all this. Perhaps it is all sounding a little far fetched. Perhaps you have already written us off as being unrealistic dreamers who are foolish enough to publicly frame their narrative around ever expanding love. Well, yes, this is us! Unashamedly bold and ambitious dreamers – with a track record of doing what we say we are going to do over many years, an emergent strategy grounded in collaborating across difference, an approach to change deeply grounded in our own experience, and that of many others, and some awesome funders who are supporting us to make all this happen.

One of the key motivations for co-creating Starter Culture was to provide a space where we could all speak openly and truthfully about radical inner-led change without feeling like we somehow needed to censor ourselves. Whilst writing this blog I have needed to continually remind myself that I can speak from my heart and soul because Starter Culture is a place for those of us on board with inner-led change. Phew - what a relief! 

And it is important to remember that these are my words and truth, and that my beloved collaborators Eva and Jo have delightfully different ways of expressing what we are calling radical inner-led change. For us it is vital that rather than Starter Culture diluting itself down to one singular voice, we celebrate the diversity of our flavours and fragrances in the knowledge that each of you will have your own unique relationship with all this, which we whole-heartedly welcome and celebrate too.

And for anyone who has made it this far and is feeling discomfort or resistance - please know you too are welcome here and thank you for sticking with us until now. 

Believe in Love by Boe Huntress

Image credits

Peter John Maridable on Unsplash

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