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Until recently, my life has been focused so acutely on humanitarian efforts that, at times, I lost a bit of my own humanity along the way.

Even as a child, I was strongly compelled to stand up for the oppressed. I’ve always followed my heart, which told me to serve others to the best of my ability. Much of my life, I believed “the best of my ability” implied I was to err towards martyrdom. I certainly know plenty of others that have lived with a similar mindset.

I’ve witnessed absolutely vile and inhuman behavior in the most desperate and broken places. I’ve lived amongst it all. It has rocked me at the core. I care deeply about people and their wellbeing. Seeing this type of behavior day in and day out has influenced my perspective dramatically. It has changed me.

I am grateful for the perspective it has given me. Circumstances that seemed difficult before are no longer a blip on my radar. The things most people spend their day worrying about are not really even a part of my life anymore.

On the other hand, due to my lifelong quest for equality, justice and peace, I’ve experienced an exponential growth of rage inside me. I’ve dealt with deep depression and a staggering edginess at times. It has negatively affected my relationships, my physical body and my emotional wellbeing, often to the point of burnout.

I go and go until I have nothing left to give. I go strong, then burn out and have to recuperate. Then repeat. Over the years, this cycle has taken a toll on me, and those I love.

I am an ardent student. I am always researching, studying and learning new concepts, or going deeper into ones that resonate with me. I am always driven towards optimization, of the mind, body and spirit, but I had never directly related it to my ability to serve humanity more effectively. I realize now how important this is. Otherwise I’m no good to anyone.

{Thank you mom for this constant reminder. I’m finally getting it now.}

I must first, or at least simultaneously, develop a healthy worldview perspective and strive to be the best human I can be. Only then am I properly equipped to take on the world’s maladies.

Many people spend their lives merely feeding their ego by indulging in selfish behavior at the expense of anyone between them and what they want. Some spend their lives so dedicated to serving others that their servitude supersedes all personal desires or even their ability to self actualize. I believe this weakens their ability to make a positive impact.

I’ve come to realize that this is a cyclical, dichotomous pattern that is actually contributing the problems I’m trying to curb, rather than working to stop them.

I want to serve others. I find joy in it. I believe we are all interconnected, an extension of the same divine energy source. As part of that body, I have a responsibility to invest in my own wellbeing and self actualization. As I experience wholeness, balance and happiness, I have contributed these experiences to the greater whole.

Furthermore, I believe in leading by example, which further implies I must set the example in my own lifestyle that I wish to make available to others. Leading by example has much deeper implications than what most people are willing to recognize.

If we are going to positively effect the world we live in, we must optimize our ability to problem solve. We must value and foster creativity and innovation. My physical wellbeing dramatically effects my mental and emotional health, which in turn, influences my ability to effectively problem solve, create and innovate. These are the bedrocks of effective humanitarianism that cannot be neglected as we inadvertently careen towards martyrdom.

This realization is one of the most difficult I’ve ever had to wrestle with, and ultimately embrace.

The thought of investing in my own wellbeing and self actualization as an act of humanitarianism seemed completely contradictory to me. But now that I’ve spent the past two years practicing this concept, I see how I am far more effective when I am whole, than when I am beaten down by the injustice I am trying to defeat.

There is a reason the airline tells you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping your child in the unlikely event of a drop in cabin pressure.

I am a root issue type of guy. I’ve realized lately that most of the issues I’ve tackled over the years, such as human trafficking, extreme poverty, bigotry and oppression are all merely symptoms of a misinformed global perspective, and it’s greatest tool, our economic agreement.

As activists, we have to make the effort to deliberately invest in our wellbeing and perspectives such that we are properly equipped to make a positive impact. Otherwise, we’re just another extension of the same problems we are trying to effect.

The root of the issue, any issue really, is the perspective that it is founded in. If we properly heal and grow our perspective, the symptoms subside organically over time, and they last.

As activists, humanitarians, philanthropists or just “nice people”, we have a responsibility to invest in our own worldview perspective of interconnectedness. The effectiveness of our benevolence is only equal to the health and vitality of the machine that drives it.

 

2 Comments

  1. Ashley on June 30, 2015 at 12:29 AM

    I can’t believe I haven’t responded to this yet. This is beautiful and so important. Sometimes highly driven and passionate people can get so wrapped up in saving others that they become blind to their own infections, and without meaning to, their illness infects others and becomes more visible than that which they are trying to “save.”

    St. Francis’s words “Preach, and if necessary, use words” is so relevant to this. Actions always, always speak louder than words. When you strive to bring peace to the world yet have turmoil in your own life, the very essence of your energy is the antithesis of what you want to portray.

    Taking care of yourself is always the first step. Leading by example is best done by letting your inner peace shine out – and letting that peace, shown through your calm, your listening ear, and your open heart, is what makes the world truly a better place.

    • Jared Angaza on July 1, 2015 at 10:01 PM

      Thanks sister! Yes, and you are one of the ones that has always reminded me to take a deep breath, get my head straight and take care of my health to I can be a better instrument for the activism and issues I’m so passionate about. I still have lots to learn, and habits to break and habits to make, but I’m getting there finally. Thanks!

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