Mass shootings, terrorism, end-less wars, climate change, the environment, our health crisis.. there seems to be no end to the atrophy surrounding us and this planet (2019 as I write this). If you’re someone who’s struggling with feelings of depression/anxiety, or you want to do good for the world but don’t know how, I want to make a case for why I think it’s best for you to take a break from following the news as closely as you may be.
On the one hand, I understand why people obsessively follow the news; we all to some degree care about the world and feel it is our responsibility or duty as citizens to stay informed. And that’s a noble justification. But I argue that the degree to which we obsess over the news and the state of the world goes well beyond that.
Stop following mainstream media
First of all, it’s important to remember that mainstream media (TV, newspapers, radio, the majority of the internet) does not care about accurately informing you with unbiased truth. They are pushing a specific narrative (for a variety of reasons), and this narrative is on the whole a very negatively biased one. This is the most captivating flavor of information, appealing to parts of our brain we would never care to admit existed.
But let’s just focus on the probability that the reason we stay informed is because we care, and on some level wish to do something about it (or see something be done). If this is the case, then I believe the best way to be a vehicle of change in the world is to take a step back and focus inward on improving yourself. When we don’t create that separation between ourselves and what’s happening in the world, we naturally feel a sense of overwhelm by the magnitude and breathe of everything that’s going on.
This can have many adverse affects on our mental well-being and our subsequent ability to function well in society. We form such strong opinions about issues we care about, and start to see others who may disagree with us as separate from ourselves. We harbor feelings of anger, frustration, hatred and fear.
On the one hand, this can drive a person or a group of people to take direct action towards an issue they care about, and this on the surface is a good thing. But when that action is fueled by an energy of anger, frustration, hatred and fear, then our efforts to improve the world actually perpetuate the very problem we are trying to solve.
As the Einstein quote goes, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” In other words, if hate/fear/anger is the place from which we’ve historically taken action, then we cannot solve the problems of today from this same level of thinking and expect different results (over and over again). Einstein would also call that insanity.
It’s also important to realize that the issues we’re facing today did not all of a sudden happen when Donald Trump became President, or when you started paying attention and caring. The state of the world, including widespread depression and anxiety, is the culmination of decades of following a trajectory lost in materialism, separation and shallow pursuits of money, power and competition. The way we’ve setup society and what people consider to be “normal” are a total departure from our divine connection to nature and each other.
So I believe it is imperative that we take a step back from all the craziness surrounding us, and make personal efforts to return back to our true nature. There are many ways to do this, all of which I intend to get into with future topics. But basically what I’m saying is, who you are (not just what you do) can do more to change the world than you can imagine.
Be the change
Our thoughts, words and behaviors have a way influencing the immediate the world around us, and that impact spreads like wildfire. This is what is meant by the saying “As within, so without.” We are literally creators of the world we experience, and so if chaos is all you see around you, then it is best to take a look inside and ask yourself, “Am I being a reflection of the world I wish to see?”
If the answer is no, then how can you have worldly expectations of peace, love and connection when your internal world is full of hate, fear and separation? This is what Gandhi meant when he said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.
Only then will you create peace for yourself and for the world. It all starts with you. So let this concept be one of empowerment. I’m not asking you to stick your head in the sand and not give a shit about the world around you. I’m in fact asking you to reconsider the ways in which you could be of best service to the world; for the benefit of yourself and all others. Then of course once you have found peace and love within yourself, you can re-engage with the world around you and overflow that abundance in the form of any action you desire. But it all starts within.