Two women advocating for farm workers in Guatamala
By Sara Critchfield, Fetzer Institute Vice President of Movement Building

We are on the move, even when we are sitting perfectly still.

Human beings are not static. Intrinsic to our nature is the desire to make progress, reach further, seek more. Movements of all kinds are welling up in each of our hearts, urging us to forgive a little more or be a little kinder. There are movements in our families compelling us to spend time together and to protect each other. There are movements in our communities toward better schools and infrastructure. And there are global, heart-centric movements: massive, undulating shifts in human consciousness as we evolve together as a species over the millennia.   

I am thrilled to have recently teamed up with Fetzer as VP of Movement Building to join in serving a heart-centric mission that uses love as its primary cultural operating system. This means spiritually attuning our lives and reorganizing our relationships to systems, to each other, to money, to our natural world, to our sense of progress, and to Spirit. My background is in political movements for social change—and this previous experience has informed my musings on a few components that can distinguish a heart-based movement from a social-change movement:

Spiritual Seeking. The inspiring life and legacy of our founder, John Fetzer, imprinted our organizational DNA with a dominant gene for spiritual seeking. Being a spiritual seeker is not a new-age form of self-care. Seeking—be it meditation, saving the planet, religious practice, or day-to-day soulful living—begins in our own hearts and always extends out to our neighbors, and ultimately, contributes to the public good. There is a holy longing in each of us to encounter Spirit (that “something beyond” material reality) in our lives and our hearts, and those who are true to this deep longing form the foundation of all heart-centric movements.

Transformation over Change. That holy longing speaks to something more than just change. It’s important that we change our laws and systems to be more just. What a thrill it was for me to work in movements around debt relief for the Global South, marriage equality, and to continue to work toward the reality of healthcare for all! And yet, with every legislative “win,” I yearned for something more. I didn’t just want legal marriage equality for my fellow siblings; I wanted them to experience equal amounts of acceptance, love, and affirmation that I receive. I knew how laws change, but I didn’t know much about how hearts change. And so, I embarked on a long, interior journey deep into my own heart and religious tradition. It was clear that I was being called to pursue a wider path—one that encompasses a human movement toward social change and the transformation of the human heart, which now I see as intrinsically interconnected. What I love most about Fetzer is that we go neither “left” nor “right,” but deep. Heart-centric movements invite us to shift our definition of “win” from achieving what we want to serving an evolving human consciousness.

Community-based Infrastructure. Lest I levitate myself right off my meditation mat of holy longing, let's not overlook the reality of material things. A heart-centric movement that serves humanity cannot stay in the realm of “things unseen.” It must be supported with worldly things, boring things, corporate-sounding things like...staff and distribution lists and website infrastructure, research and outreach, measurement and accountability, and of course, a healthy dose of laughter. However, when we organize our movement’s infrastructure around the heart’s needs, we take these mundane tools and transform them into vehicles that propel humanity forward together. All movements need tools, blood, sweat, and tears to reach out to real people. Heart-centric movements need tools that ladder up to spiritual transformation, not just accomplishing goals.

I’m an action-oriented builder, motivated by my understanding of the Source of all Love, and incredibly excited about hatching big plans to spread more love and joy throughout the world. Heart-centric movements start in the heart, but then get on the move and extend outward!

Won’t you get moving with me?

Sara Critchfield, VP of Movement Building at the Fetzer Institute, spends her free time volunteering with her tiny, contemplative, mountainside church, which runs a free legal clinic for migrant neighbors and a community garden.