One of my main nightly rituals is to watch one hour of television news. The first half-hour is devoted to both a local and a regional station, while during the second half-hour I generally watch NBC Nightly News, sometimes switching back and forth between it and Global National. Such a practice usually provides me with an overview of local, national, and international events, while recognizing the limitations that such coverage provides both in depth and selection of stories.
Sometimes during this ritual, I find myself growing philosophical as I bear witness to events that often have a common subtext: the fragility and brevity of life. From the extermination of men, women and children in Syria to the loss of innocent lives in natural disasters and human-caused mayhem, the fact that our lives could end at any time through no fault of our own is never lost on me.
That got me wondering about our species' loss of humility and sense of proportion. We spend so much time getting and spending, to borrow from the poetry of William Wordsworth, that we have lost touch with both ourselves and the world around us. Should you doubt this, just look at the state of the world from an environmental, economic or sociological perspective. If you lack the time, check out one of The Mound's latest posts.
What haunts me is our collective refusal to live with a little dignity, a little restraint and a little gratitude for the very fact of our lives, precious and precarious as they ultimately are. This led me, on a bit of a whim, to post the following on my Facebook account:
A question: How do we, as a species, recover a measure of humility and a realistic sense of proportion?The most thoughtful response came from my sister-in-law, Ruth, whose meditation follows:
The only place I can begin is with myself. And I think that's where everyone needs to begin. We can be fully present by putting down the "devices" and, for me, getting out into nature where we reconnect with that sense of grandeur and awe. It might be something different for someone else...but whatever gets them into that place where they can slow down and be humbled and grateful. We can meditate to turn off the inner chatter that can make us so unhappy which in turn can help us turn off the messages that buying more stuff will make us happy.Should anyone else like to address this question, I welcome your comments, as always.
I'm studying to be a spiritual director to help others get to that place where they are in touch with the inner voice of God and their soul. I know it doesn't seem like much...but if even 10% of the population did those few things...in addition to reducing, reusing and recycling, buying organic, supporting local...I think we could begin to regain that sense of our place in the world.
Keep the faith..never give up. But that's in my humble opinion anyway...