Originally published on Medium.

Like so many around the world, I have been following the recent demonstrations in Hong Kong, which focus on reconsideration of a law that would allow citizens accused of certain crimes to be extradited to mainland China. Sadly, many people have been injured in these protests, and to them I extend my deepest wishes for healing. My hope is that the protests may remain peaceful and safe for all who are involved.

I also want to share something beautiful about these protests — something we don’t often see when people take to the streets, no matter which country they happen to live in.

After one of the demonstrations was over, the protesters stayed to clean up after themselves. They were there until 2 a.m., before showing up again to make their voices heard the next day!

Think about this. Previously these demonstrators had been called “rioters” by the authorities, even though their protests were peaceful. The police related to them with tear gas and water cannons. Not only did the protesters keep coming back, but they kept their humanity and showed respect for the larger Hong Kong community to which they belong.

“Just as the body is a web of interconnectedness, our communities need to mirror this interconnectedness.”

Instead of exploding with rage and burning things down, which often happens at times like this, they provided us with a demonstration of “nestedness.” In other words, while there is dissatisfaction with the government, it nestles within the mindset of being part of the wider community.

This “nestedness” is powerful because it creates a forward-looking movement for everyone involved. When people are angry about something their government does, so often they attack, creating a feeling of disconnection that destroys the very terrain that nurtures them — be that their community, their country, or the world as a whole.

We can think of this in terms of the unity of the human body. When we look at the body from a holistic medical standpoint, if a person has an infection — a pimple, for example — the body creates a layer of protection around it. This membrane confines the infection, which nevertheless continues to be part of the larger organism until healing occurs. In other words, the human body has a marvelously holistic way of regulating itself and the many elements that are part of its makeup.

Just as the body is a web of interconnectedness, our communities need to mirror this interconnectedness. By isolating the government for its mistaken approach to the law, while all the while recognizing that the officials themselves are part of the whole, the Hong Kong protesters provided us with an incredible demonstration of maturity and responsibility, showing how an ongoing recognition of our interconnectedness can play out among a community of five million citizens.

Why E. E. Cummings Would Have Been All Over the Recent Hong Kong Demonstrations

I call this approach to one another “poetry in action.” I take this idea from one of my favorite poets, e e cummings. In fact, I included his 1955 letter to a student poet in my recent book The Clarity Cleanse. In his letter, Cummings says:

A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words.

This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel — but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling — not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn’t a poet can possibly imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time — and whenever we do it, we’re not poets.

If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you’ve written one line of one poem, you’ll be very lucky indeed.

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world — unless you’re not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.

Does that sound dismal? It isn’t.

It’s the most wonderful life on earth.

Or so I feel.

As cummings asserts, it’s quite easy to blow up the world. In The Clarity Cleanse, I show that it’s all too natural to explode when something goes wrong. It’s much harder to do the difficult emotional work that will enable us to do what these Hong Kong demonstrators did. By taking responsibility for themselves and cleaning up their own mess, they modeled for us what our evolving human consciousness has the potential of becoming.

I am interested in this scenario because it shows how we can disagree with someone from a place of loving compassion — be it a government, a family member, or a former spouse. This isn’t just the essence of what the Hong Kong protestors showed us, it’s also the essence of a topic that’s extremely important to me, which I’m writing about right now in my next book Uncoupling With Clarity.

The book is based on the idea of being able to disagree, while still maintaining a connection to the larger whole — in this case, the idea that a couple can go through the completion of their marriage, but still keep their family healthy. I’m grateful to the protesters in Hong Kong for living out this beautiful idea, showing us what loving compassion looks like in action.