How do you feel about the state of the world today?
Do you have hope for the future? Are you enamored with the present? What kind of momentum are you aware of? Do you think that your awareness has any effect on what is happening in the world? How about in your life? How about your mood?
Years ago I swore to myself that I would take control of the information that enters my mind and the value that I assign to it. This means applying my own filters to the news and information that I ingest and purposely seeking out sources whose filters I respect to provide such information for me.
For much of my young life I was depressed. I felt crushed by the weight of the world and what I saw as my inability to have anything resembling a positive impact on it. Everywhere I looked I saw suffering and the tides appeared too great to stem. Eventually I began to consider the ways in which I create my experience of the world. It started to become clear that health and happiness can be a choice and that such a choice begins with attempting to cultivate hope and a sense of empowerment while disallowing myself to wallow in despair over things that I felt powerless about. The information that I allow into my mind feeds my thoughts. To state the obvious: My experience of the world is dependent entirely on what information I feed my senses. Depending on the ‘news’, certain ideas flourish while others wilt.
In my mind, what the situation calls for is careful selection of the views and actions that we want to cultivate. Yes, I think that it can be incredibly damaging to watch the evening news and feel that you are informed. For many this experience is crippling. To sit and witness tragic events which we have little or no control over is a powerful and potentially soul crushing experience. The world takes on a tragic hue when news is harvested through the lens of sensationalism and sound bites that much of modern media relies on to keep us watching. When seen in this light and without an understanding of the positive impact that you and others can have on the situation the experience can be paralyzing.
But the world is full of people doing amazing things.
And the people reporting on such things are many. Consciousness is evolving. The world changes daily. Cultivating an awareness of the way in which things continue to go right is a choice. In every moment we exercise an immense power when we direct our focus and channel our resources in one direction over another.
We don’t need to know in advance what we will do with any of this information. The idea here is not that things are figured out in advance. What I attempt to do is to cultivate hope in my life; to allow room for faith to creep in. As I do so I notice that my thoughts start to be filled more with visions of what I can create and less with ruminations of what I hate. I am trying to use my words less to denounce that which I despise and more for spreading the things I want to see flourish. In doing so my actions begin to become slowly more aligned with my deepest values, and my experience of the world more of a celebration and less of a drowning.
At times I do feel that it is important to watch Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC etc. simply to understand what their focus is and how the world is being packaged and distributed by conventional news channels. But doing so for me is a very different experience than in my childhood when I simply watched and felt as if what I was seeing was the truth about the state of the world. Sure there is truth in everything that they show. I do not mean to deny this. But in this modern (post-modern…whatever) world, perspective is primary. The fact that we can now witness genocide on another continent is, believe it or not, an incredibly positive thing. We now stand poised to act in anyone’s defense. These atrocities are not new to this age. I do not see them as a sign of a world gone wrong. And bearing witness to these events is the seed of future action to correct them. But by turning our cameras so heavily on the bad things that are distant we create the impression in ourselves that this is what the world is made of. Since we have more access to the happenings in the world than ever before it is as easier than ever to find violence. But the same is true for love!
Feel like spirituality got lost somewhere along the way?
The amazing thing is that I live in a city of 8 million people that is incredibly safe and peaceful. In times past tribal feuds were the norm. Small groups of people would clash whenever they came near. In parts of the world where civilization has happened the quickest hundreds of millions of people now live in relative peace with our neighbors. This is an astounding fact by yesterdays standards. The fact that we can even worry about the well being of people in Africa says an immense amount about how far we have come. These United States have been filled with slavery and genocide and war and the subjugation of women and children in years not too far in our past. But we have grown immensely, and I do not think that these things will happen again. I see the same progress taking place in other places, though perhaps at a different pace. But allowing myself to see the world this way has been an effort.
The internet is a powerful tool for information sharing, but our options are daunting, so our choices must be full of a carefully chosen intent.
Worried about the state of the environment?
Where does your information come from?
This does not mean putting your fingers in your ears and skipping around singing ‘la-la-la-la-la’ and just hoping that somehow things work ok. This is about cultivating that which you want to see flourish in yourself and the world around you starting with the things that are simplest and closest. What does your mind hunger for? We are what we eat. I think that this includes our minds. The information that we choose to feed ourselves is transformed into the thoughts in our head, the words in our mouth and the actions that define our lives and the lives of those around us.
Yes, we need to witness the horrors that others perpetrate so that they can be stopped. The world is full of need and this need can manifest as violence and hate. But from my perspective these things are lessening as the years pass. I look out and I see a world where, even though there are places where this is not yet the norm, in general, there is less slavery than there has ever been in the past. Women have more rights in most of the world than they ever have in the past. Children are treated better in the world than they ever have been in the past. And the ability for people to communicate and share resources is growing exponentially. But before we can save the world, we must be sure that we are being careful with ourselves. This means nourishment and careful choosing of our experiences.
Having made these rather bold statements about how wonderful the world is, I also agree that we stand on a precipice. Our power as a species is huge. We have never before held such capacity for change. There is no guarantee that we will learn to use our technology as we must quickly enough. There is no guarantee that we will learn to hold one another and the this earth with the gentleness that is required for a sustainable and equitable path to be tread; one that verges away from many of the trodden patterns that consumerism has wrought. But I am hopeful. And when I choose to look in the right directions, I see many, many others who are hopeful as well. And they are doing amazing things; things that we would all be better off witnessing and learning from.
Of course, we will never control all of the information that we ingest. To attempt to do so would be crippling and isolating. What I am describing is more about recognizing the control that you already exert, and attempting to bring more consciousness into each decision. We give an idea power when we repeat it. The simple act of looking at an image creates a reverberation in our own body/mind that stimulates sympathetic frequencies with profound impact for the tone and timbre of the life we manifest. Let’s choose to echo the actions of people we respect and admire. One way to start is simply seeking this information out by upgrading our daily news feed.
One piece of advice: It took me far too long to realize that it is not about what I don’t watch (for me evening news) it is more about what I do watch. Much like with your diet, I would recommend focusing on what you should ingest and let this crowd out the things that you want to move away from. Simply focusing on removing the negative creates a vacuum, a negative space that will be filled by what your are familiar with. But to seek out good news is a gift you can give yourself daily. So why not allow a little optimism to creep in? It’s out there if you are looking for it.