Fat Soul International: A Manifesto
By Patricia Adams Farmer and Jay McDaniel
For our new video version, click here!
In a world filled with rigidity in the forms of religious fundamentalism, racism, injustice, planetary destruction, xenophobia, and panphobia—yes, the Fear of Everything—there is an alternative: the way of FAT SOUL
We believe that instead of shrinking back in despair or approaching the world with raised hackles, we need to widen out in love, compassion, inclusivity, and full-bodied joy. This unseemly business of widening out when everyone else is shrinking back may seem wildly counter-cultural, but it just might relieve some of the angst of these troubled times
And it could even—yes, if we get fat enough—change the world
What is a Fat Soul? Just what it sounds like. Fat Souls are wide souls, expansive souls—souls too big to fit into the slim-cut “Us” and “Them” categories. Fat Soul is a philosophy of life, a kind of wide-angle lens through which to see life, community, and the Big Wide World.
Our goal is to draw the circle of compassion wider.
We are philosophers, teachers, theologians, guitarists, singers, dancers, poets, gardeners, accountants, artists, and spiritually interested people from around the world who believe, that when it comes to the soul, size matters.
We are Fat Soul International.
Fat Soul International does not belong to one faith or spiritual path. You can be a Fat Soul Christian or Fat Soul Jew or Fat Soul Muslim or Fat Soul Buddhist or Fat Soul Hindu or Fat Soul Naturalist or a Spiritual-But-Not-Religious Fat Soul. We believe that no matter who you are, if you’re expanding in compassion rather than shrinking back in fear, you’re going in the right direction.
Fat Souls do not seek after neat-and-tidy sameness or shallow harmony, but enjoy the messy complexity which makes life vivid and true and beautiful.
We who seek to become Fat Souls love beauty; we love the earth. We love sustainable communities. We love metaphor, too. We see ourselves as diverse facets of a bejeweled universe, reflecting one another with humility, respect, and hospitality. We see ourselves as part of the earth, part of each other, part of the stars.
Here are some things we believe and that are important to us:
We believe in the power of kindness.
We believe that small is big: small choices, tiny creatures, miniscule gestures of love make a huge impact in our interconnected world.
We know that to become Fat Souls, we need to say no to things that impoverish not only our own souls, but the souls of others on this planet. Protest can be good.
We believe in robust individuality, but not selfish individualism. We are all connected.
We see the value of not only moving out in expansion, but of contracting from time to time for self-reflection. A soulful life is a balanced life.
We see full well the absurdities and evils of our time. Yet, we are not cynics. We believe in hope. We believe in deep listening. We believe that mirth makes girth; laughter makes us larger.
We refuse to be abstemious in our thinking or rigid in our rules or stingy with our compassion.
We value the widening wisdom of age and experience.
We value mindfulness. We reserve our fear for saber-tooth tigers.
We work for social and economic justice. We stand with the poor, and expand our imaginations toward their well-being.
We stand with our fellow creatures who inhabit our planet, and that includes farm animals.
We stand with the earth itself and consider it part of our own soul; we vow to protect it as we do the people we love.
We believe in the power of music and art and creative work of all kinds.
We do not have all the answers and are, without apology, open-ended in our thinking.
Yes, we are people of all religions and cultures and colors and sizes and body-types and ages and sexual orientation; we are extroverts and introverts; we are artists and engineers; we are those who sing the blues and those who sing arias; we are those who love chocolate and those (unfortunates) who do not.
So, you see, we’re talking largesse here, huge and spacious souls who cover a vast terrain, transcending all national borders and political ideologies, all growing larger and more intensely harmonious by our very diversity. Together we stretch our imaginations and talents toward increasing the amount of kindness in the world. We embrace the full catastrophe of life and know that it can be transformed.
In a nutshell, we are a network of networks of networks of people around the world who seek to live with compassion and creativity, open-heartedness and open-mindedness. We are Fat Soul International.
Will you join us? Here’s how to do it.
Begin by blooming where you’re planted. In your own local community, create Fat Soul Festivals and Fat Soul Farmer’s Markets and Fat Soul Book Discussions and Fat Soul Bands. Do it as a community effort and know that you are linked with people in other parts of the world who are doing these things, too.
Also you can be part of our Fat Soul International community by doing quiet things like writing Fat Soul poems, or taking Fat Soul naps, or meditating, or caring for homeless animals, or worshipping with your faith community, or talking one-on-one about Fat Soul ideas over cups of tea. All of this matters hugely in our interconnected world.
Whatever your Fat Soul Style, we invite you to visit our website, fatsoul.org, and join us at our Facebook Fat Soul Café where we offer a varied menu of soul-nourishing ideas, share Fat Soul community happenings, and make Fat Soul Friends from around the world. If you’re not on Facebook, join us at Jesus, Jazz, and Buddhism: Process Thinking for a More Hospitable World (www.jesusjazzbuddhism.org)