The one thing a priest and a political activist both understood

One was a community activist. A hell-raiser. A man who threatened to block up Chicago’s O’Hare Airport by organising the world’s first shit in.

The other was a Jesuit priest who wrote books like The Way to Love, The Song of the Bird and The Heart of the Enlightened.

For all their differences, Saul Alinsky and Anthony de Mello were remarkably similar. They both understood a fundamental truth:

Awareness—the ability to see without distortion—is one of the most powerful things an individual can have.

Here’s what Alinsky had to see about it in Rules for Radicals:

“The basic requirement for the understanding of the politics of change is to recognise the world as it is. We must work with it on its terms if we are if we are to change it to the kind of world we would like it to be. We must first see the world as it is and not as we would like to be.”

And here’s de Mello in The Way to Love

“… the first act of love is to see this person or this object, this reality as it truly is. And this involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking …

The second ingredient is equally important. To see yourself, to ruthlessly flash the light of awareness on your own motives, your emotions, your needs, your dishonesty, your self-seeking, your tendency to control and manipulate. This means calling things by their name, no matter how painful the discovery and the consequences.”

​Alinsky instigated external change. Raising living standards, the level of education and empowering individuals in every community and organisation he worked with. Changing them for the better.

De Mello focused on internal change. Growth within yourself. On the elimination of attachment, dependency and bias.

But both understood that there’s just one thing that we all need to do:

See reality as it is, not as we wish it to be.