Be A Citizen Without Borders

memelimitlessloveWe live in complicated times. The world feels a little smaller and the borders less visible, thanks to the Internet and other technology that shrink time and space and distance.

In my mind’s eye, I see us as actually living in one community, a global village. In my book Tao Flashes, I write, “When we begin to define our community as a global village or community, we see there are no real boundaries.”

This belief and my conviction that we live in a world where we are all connected in spirit, where what is in the one, is in the all, dictates my behavior.

But not everyone shares this belief.

What I noticed recently is how passionate and protective people can be in their dedication to maintaining boundaries. I saw this during the news coverage and campaign to help rescue the nearly 300 young girls in Nigeria who were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

The outcry and social media efforts created a lot of awareness about the plight of these girls. It also caused other nations, including the United States, to take action to help. And it created awareness about the epidemic of sexual slavery in our world, including our very own country.

Yet, there were those who found fault with the media coverage, the rallies and the social media campaign. Some newscasters on Fox mocked the effort. Here in my city, I read dismissive and unkind comments on a local tv station’s facebook page when they promoted a rally to support the Nigerian girls and the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

The comments called supporters stupid for thinking the campaign could do any good. Others chastised supporters for not acknowledging the problem of sexual abuse here in the United States. Supporters were called hypocrites for their support of a “cause du jour.” The comments were largely negative and many reprimended supporters for not acting locally to address the myriad of social problems we have here at home.

As a supporter of the #bringbackourgirls campaign, I initially felt a little defensive. So I did some soul searching. And I thought about the comments and the campaign, wondering if there were seeds of truth I might need to swallow.

This is what I came up with:

Yes, there are problems of sexual slavery here. It’s important to read and study and learn more about this issue and advocate in whatever way one feels called to do so. But not supporting the Nigerian girls, doesn’t HELP the girls here at home, either. Should we do nothing at all?

If the publicity from this campaign helped to create more awareness, wasn’t that a good thing?

Wasn’t the support being sent to Nigeria (as a result of this campaign) going to help alleviate just a little bit of suffering?

Call me a magical thinker–I’ve been accused of worse. But I actually believe that any help, any spport, is an expression of love. And that’s a good thing.

Can we do more? Yes, absolutely. But I don’t think people need to be shamed for having hope, even if other people feel it is misguided. If we didn’t have hope, we would be a bitter, hate-filled, lawless, broken society, useless to ourselves and as importantly, useless to others.

I think it’s important to support others in guidance with your spirit,  whether you devote yourself to a particular cause full-throttle or if you express it on a whim, the way many of us do when we see a homeless person and offer them money. Sometimes the help we offer is instinctive, spontaneous and temporary.

But it has value.

It’s something. And no, most of us can’t cure homelessness or take a beggar home with us. But we can offer support, a meal, a prayer, a touch of humanity to someone in need. It’s SOMETHING. It’s an expression of humanity, and that’s a lot.

Our support of others doesn’t have to be measured within zipcodes or state lines or other boundaries. And it doesn’t have to be weighed out in parcels of who is more deserving of attention–this person or that person, this group or that group.

Let’s not judge what others do when they are following their hearts or inner compass. This world is shrinking into a much smaller place, and as citizens without borders, we’re all here to do our part.

Even the critics and those who make angry comments about how people show their support of causes are doing their part. I don’t find fault. I’m thinking many of them are rightfully frustrated and angry about the suffering in this world, and they want to remind us that there is much more to do.

They’re actually right on that one. There is more to do. So I say, find what moves you.

For some it is supporting animal rights. For others, it might be education, poverty, homelessness, hunger, child abuse. For me, it is human rights, disaster relief, homelessness, spiritual hunger and so much more.

Let’s take our anger and dispair and do something meaningful with it–and without having someone else define “meaningful” for us.

And while we’re at it, let’s quit letting others dictate our hearts. As I write in Tao Flashes, “When we open up our eyes and our hearts to others, whether they live three blocks away or on a remote mountaintop in India, we can come to know the real definition of community. It is then that love unites, leaving nothing to divide us.

If you’re interested in more thoughts on integrity, compassion and grace, particularly at midlife, read my book Tao Flashes.  Or visit me at or on twitter @taoflashes.


12 thoughts on “Be A Citizen Without Borders

  1. Lisa, I agree, I think it’s important that we do something, no matter how small it is. It wasn’t until the #BringBackOurGirls campaign picked up steam, that the media started reporting the story and only then governments started to act.

    • Carol,
      Yes, I was surprised by the bounceback, too! I’m trying to hold a space for those who are frustrated and unkind in their remarks about this issue; it helps me to believe that in their own way, they are trying to serve. But I believe that what we do to serve others matters.

  2. You are so right, Lisa. And it just boggles the mind to think that anyone in their right mind could say anything bad about trying to bring attention to a cause such as this.

    • Sheryl,
      Yes, it boggles my mind too. Like I said, I think we should all do what moves us and not dictate another person’s thoughts or actions. I think whatever we do to help adds up.

  3. I think about this kind of thing ALL THE TIME. It makes me sad. Other times I have great hope. There are tipping points. That is why I attended an anti-trafficking rally in Phoenix, two hours from my house, just last week. We released balloons, one for each missing Nigerian School Girl after a wonderful informative set of speakers. #bringbackourgirls is drawing awareness to human trafficking and missing girls and women the world around. #yesallwomen live with, fear, and are impacted by violence generated from misogyny. Women are connecting and moving together as one. There is hope. We are sisters of the world.

    • Nancy, thank you for commenting. It is a sad and scary situation. I think it’s wonderful you took the time to attend the rally and support such an important cause. I think the more awareness we bring to this issue, the better!

  4. Lovely post, as usual. I am one of those who feels we should tend to the problems in our own society more often than we do. I think we are often embarrassed to attend to problems at home so we help out abroad–pretending or assuming that we don’t have 3rd world issues in the US. I said that once to an Episcopal Bishop (distressing a few of my fellow parishioners), asking why we were sending money to a foreign aid while there were people in our communities with dirt floors and no running water.
    AND, I do believe we are one big world without boundaries. When we reach out, our hearts soften and we create a ripple of compassion. I typically give my monies and efforts to local causes but there are ways I, and all of us, can lend a voice to injustice across the world.

    • Walker, thank you for your comment. I really respect your opinion and I know you are not alone in it. You are right; there is much to be done here….so many social problems here in our own backyard. They do need our attention. I believe we can do both….find a way to lend a voice or aid to those in need here at home and those in other countries. We just need people to roll up their sleeves and help on whatever issue they feel passionate about to make this world a better place.

  5. Hi Lisa! By the way, thank you for all the work you did and are still doing by spreading the word about the #BringBackTheGirls campaign. I tend to believe that everything that is being done is helping on some level because the awareness of it has grown tremendously. Unfortunately, just like with the climate crisis issue, some people would rather stick their heads in the sand out of fear and pretend some of those things are happening–as if that would make it disappear. So while the push-back is sort of crazy, that really means people are facing something, perhaps for the very first time, and having to deal with it. And I sort of believe that once you know something you can’t “not know” it on the deepest level. So while I tend to stay away from controversial subjects on my own blog, my intention is to continually remind myself and others that we are all in this together regardless in a world and a consciousness without borders of any type. Just know you are making a difference. ~Kathy

    • Kathy, thanks for such a supportive comment. I really appreciate it. I’ve been enjoying your blog; lots of interesting and inspirational essays. So, let’s just keep doing what we’re doing in blogs and in “real life”–reminding people how we’re all in this together!

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