I’ve been purposely quiet in mind and voice lately regarding the current political scene. Not ignoring it, mind you. I’m still plugged in and seeing a lot of what’s going on. I have generated feelings and opinions. But the thing is, I’m not reacting to them. I’m taking them all in mindfully and letting them simmer in order to form cohesive thoughts and look for emerging patterns. This is how one of my creative processes works best: observe and allow the data to reveal conclusions to me.
If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you’ll remember I invest heavily into modeling for my children. To show them (once I’ve figured it out) how to be all the good things I want to see in the world. The recent political environment, much like a lot of other significant events in the world, is ground-breaking, paradigm-shifting, and requires a change in thought patterns in order to move forward.
Let’s talk about that for just a moment. Moving forward. The only reason to dwell in the past is to learn from it. Besides, the world will move forward regardless of you anyway, so standing still or going backward does little to maintain one’s footing in reality. So strategic, finite, pauses to reflect on the past and current events are wise actions in preparation for moving forward. Thus I choose not to whine, complain, or be victimized. Here is what I want to see in myself, my kids, friends and the world moving forward. Honestly, a lot of it is just common sense. I focus on them because I want them to be in the forefront of my mind when making decisions.
I want to promote compassion: I list this first because it is still something I’m working on. I want to get better at understanding other people’s viewpoints. Accepting them without judgment even if contrary to my own opinions. To know that other peoples’ opinions are valid and important to them. Everyone deserves equal treatment in terms of non-judgment, love for their fellow humans, and non-deprecation. And it all starts with myself; I must be compassionate to myself first. Modeling all of this to my girls is…difficult as they grow up in grade school and have so many other models they are learning from. My consistency and patience are key.
I want to promote critical thinking and not jumping to media-defined conclusions: This is a new one, and a huge mountain to climb. The media is so ever-present in our generation. From online blogs, podcasts, Facebook, and YouTube to friends’ gossip, TV, books, and magazines. It was already a challenge on the subject of female self-esteem and body image as portrayed by the media stressing unhealthy fodder. Now on top of all this is the emergence of the questionable validity of the trust-worthiness of actual reported news. What is important now is to not blindly trust the news, and fact-check to ensure the information that is consumed is valid enough to bring into my thought-processes. And on top of that, to think critically about it, or be able to smell when data doesn’t look right and either discard it or find the truth. This is all a herculean effort just to curate valid information, and it takes up a lot of time. Teaching critical thinking to elementary school age kids is also…difficult. Their brains haven’t developed enough to properly process logic, question facts, and apply gathered experiences. However, the process and questions can be. I call them talking points. Whenever we wade into waters where questionable content appears, I try to ask leading questions, normalize difficult or traditionally taboo subjects, use language for asking questions, and introduce new, challenging concepts to expand their brains. It’s a start. Helpful relevant article on GeekDad.
I want to promote how to filter media sources: Since there is so much media out there now, it is critical to be able to filter what is relevant to me. I want to consume three kinds of media. Media that introduces new and opposing ideas, truthful, factual current events, and specific topics I want to learn more about. I subscribe to sources that enable me to filter the content (such as Social Fixer for Facebook and SPOI Filter for RSS). I have to decide what I want to take in when listening to people and TV. One of the ways to accomplish this is just not to subscribe to a lot of media. Pick a couple sources, and get rid of the rest. If your news is redundant, it is doubly hard to filter and can steer you into reactive waters just to keep up with it all. A good measure of when enough media is enough is when you are able to take the time to reflect on what you consume. If there is no time for reflection, then you’re consuming too fast and engaging in mindless self-indulgence.
I want to promote individual growth on specific topics, not to simply hate others: Another way of saying this is that I want to improve myself, instead of deprecating groups. I want to change the world by improving myself and being a model for those around me, instead of yelling and shouting at other groups of people that my way is better. I can’t change their mind anyway. But I can provide them with data on how I feel, and let them know how strongly I feel about it. If their construct of compassion can see me, then I’ve done my job. This is what public demonstrations are all about. Protesting cannot change any policy or the minds of lawmakers. But if they didn’t know how hurtful what they did was, now they do. I tell my girls to “use your words”. Say what’s important to you. Say when someone hurts you. Don’t be afraid and state your opinion. This works for adults too, and engages in lively debates, discussions, and conversations. This is the healthy exchange and cross-pollination of ideas which is required for progress. Everyone’s voice is important.
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.” This quote by Mahatma Gandhi sums up very nicely what I’ve been prattling on about. If you want to protest by looting and pushing your beliefs on others, then that’s what the world may become. If you want to model how you react to events in the world in a calm and mindful way, that may also change the world.
What tactics will you use in your journey towards being a better person who is well-adapted to surviving the world in the current climate and the times to come? What tools have you found to be helpful in your quest for sanity and moving forward?
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