Making Waves and Riding the Currents

From Orion Magazine:

Halpern1 As a smart and well-connected young lawyer in Washington DC in the late 1960s, Charles Halpern took a leave from his corporate law firm and cofounded the first-ever public-interest law firm, the Center ofr Law and Social Policy. This new idea, he writes, was to “set up a nonprofit organization to handle cases representing unrepresented interests in Washington, dealing with big policy issues—the environment, consumer rights, corporate responsibility, the rights of mental patients.” Over the years, Halpern was involved in some landmark cases that ended up making the world a better place, including the Alyeska decision, which required the Mobil, Exxon, and Shell oil companies to consider, for the first time, the environmental impact of the eight-hundred-mile pipeline they built across the Alaskan tundra.

All along, Halpern was practicing more than law. He was seeking wise teachers, going into the wilderness, and learning to meditate. He raised eyebrows when he brought yoga to law students. But Halpern knew that effective advocates need to be centered and soul-fed. “As wisdom practice develops,” he writes, “clarity of vision emerges. We hold our ideas more lightly and see reality more clearly, less circumscribed by our inherited screens and filters, biases and preferences. We become more comfortable living with paradox, holding dissonant views.”

Making Waves and Riding the Currents is a compelling memoir with a simple message: Find the wise people in your life, and listen to them. In fact, listen to everyone more fully, even your opponents. Most importantly, listen to yourself—you’ll be less reactive and more productive for it.

More here.