When our local State representative Das Williams arrived to present at the Lucidity festival in 2013, his stage wasn’t complete. Build volunteer Alicia St Rose recalls: “We were scrambling to finish setting up and I saw Das Williams enter. I was worried because we weren’t ready. But next thing I know, I turn around, and on his own he had set some chairs in a circle. A dozen people had arrived, and there he was, engaging them in a conversation about oneness.”
Das came with the desire to help and contribute to the festival. When things weren’t ready, in true Lucidity fashion, he simply jumped in and made it happen. This highlights one of his core values: the importance of connecting passion with action. “If one has an action plan for change without soul, it will be unsuccessful” he recalled a few weeks after the festival. “Likewise if one just has hope and sentiment or pure soul, it will also be unsuccessful”.
He related this to the passion of Christ, and the idea that change requires action and sacrifice. Change requires full engagement. “Everything that we do, if we do it with intention and love, it becomes an act of prayer”.
Williams believes we can improve our education and support the environment through policy change, but we need to change our culture and values; we need to do more than “tinker around the edges”. He says: “We need to break the illusion that we can have all that we want without ramifications. We live in community, and we need to see that ourselves and our actions have impact on other people and the environment”
For his presentation Das Williams chose a topic that is unusual for a politician, but one that is very dear to him: “I’m very interested in the place where Christian and Islamic mysticism meet, and also opening the discussion with people who don’t believe in God”. He referred to Rumi’s quote, “There are many pathways to the one”. He feels there is a need to bring back a spiritual center in our culture.
He really enjoyed holding space for that conversation at the festival. People were already very interested in examining spirituality and ideas around collective consciousness. To him, festivals are great places for countercultural ideas to emerge and take form, which is part of what drew him to Lucidity. “Participants at transformational festivals are willing to look at things in our society that aren’t working and actively experiment with new solutions”.
Das was particularly impressed with the cleanliness of the festival and Lucidity’s waste program. “It was the first festival I attended where you really didn’t see any junk lying around,” he said. “I was very inspired by the work and intentions of Lucidity’s organizers.” Much of this can be attributed to the reusable dishware program, efforts to educate people, and groups such as the Moop Squad. “This is the model of how to do things” he said. “This way of handling waste should be a city ordinance for all large scale events.”
As Das Williams pointed out, real change happens on a cultural level, when society is ready to look at its values and change them. We are deeply grateful for all the work he has been doing over the years on a policy level as well. As vehicles for change, both social and political approaches can go hand in hand and support each other.