A Short Meditation on the News

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Your heart races and you start to breathe heavier. Internal tensions flare as you are confronted with the world’s latest catastrophic event.   

How can one possibly maintain a sense of calm or equanimity while watching the news?

One quickly becomes mentally and emotionally exhausted by the constant reminder of our grim and dark Hobbesian world. We ponder, maybe Thomas Hobbes was right when he noted “life is nasty, brutish and short.”

Attention, our precious finite resource, is constantly hacked by the continuous shocking headlines. Curiosity and terror grip your mind scrolling through the latest articles in your news feed.

Your imagination runs astray.   

I empathize with all the suffering that is displayed in the news, but how much compassion can a heart hold?

In a fragmented media environment, the reasonable person is bound to ask – who is right, who is wrong, what is truth?

Fact becomes fiction, and fictions becomes ideology. Who am I to trust in the battle of narrative warfare?

Facts are cheap, and they come easy when they are just one Google search away. But wisdom, has become far scarcer.

I have nostalgia for a time when things moved more slowly. A time, perhaps in the past, when having access to instantaneous information seemed like a lifetime away. Call me naïve, but I do perhaps romanticize the time where people communicated through hand written letters.  A time when you had the luxury of processing and digesting the words you were reading.  

Must I need to know everything? Must I have an opinion on every topic? Ignorance is bliss they say, but I wish it was acceptable in our time.   

I care not to impress others with knowledge of superfluous facts about politics or the stock market.

I do desire, however, to remain informed of what is important, namely of what affects my day to day life. To be a responsible citizen.

But first, let me take care of things internally. Let me cultivate my mind, and find inner calm.

So, I plead, give me knowledge and literature from the great authors of history.  Give me the works of great philosophers, and the insight to distinguish knowledge from opinion.

But please keep me away from the news. 

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Ramblings on Personal Sovereignty

I aspire to be an independent thinker. One who adheres to a clear set of authentic principles, and can hold their own against the tyranny of the majority.

I long to be free from ideology and dogma, free from the imaginary boundaries and limitations of this group or that group in the time of the culture wars.       

Why should I pursue endeavours purely to appease others or act in a way contradictory to my nature?

A term I feel particularly drawn to during this time of chaos is personal sovereignty. As Jordan Hall describes it,

Sovereignty is the capacity to take responsibility. It is the ability to be present to the world and to respond to the world — rather than to be overwhelmed or merely reactive. Sovereignty is to be a conscious agent.

To me, being a sovereign individual entails being in the driver’s seat – being in control.

It means having the awareness and insight to be able to cut through the noise and find the truth in a world that is increasingly politicized and divisive. 

That is not to say, I must reject conformity or social norms at all costs. Rather it is to use discernment and reason to act on the most logical course of action.

This has become increasingly difficult in a time where corporations, the media and politicians are constantly fighting for your attention, dollars and votes.  

Who to believe?

Who to trust?

Where can truth be found?

My hope is that the practice of mindfulness and Stoicism will allow me to see things more clearly, as they are – from an objective standpoint. To not be thrown around emotionally by the headlines, but have greater control and autonomy over my reactions to external events.

It is difficult to flow against the grain, to risk being wrongly accused and be viewed as an outcast. However, this is what a commitment to Truth requires. As Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us,

Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance