Early man walked away as modern man took control. Their minds weren’t all the same. To conquer was their goal. So he built his great empires and he slaughtered his own kind. He died a confused man, killed himself with his own mind. – Bad Religion
The events playing out on the world stage have driven a spike of tangible anxiety deep into the hearts of all save the power mad puppet masters choreographing the lunacy for their own ends. Now more than ever, we who still care about the fate of humanity need to pull ourselves together. Tempting as it is, we cannot afford to succumb to despondency or despair. Protest and activism are vital, but actions taken in this spirit can yield no results if we are not in control of our minds.
Listen: there is nothing outside of your mind that has the power to destroy you. Might I suggest that each of us adopt this as a mantra: there is nothing outside of my mind that has the power to destroy me. This isn’t some imaginary belief meant to assuage fear and stress. It’s a personal call to action. Embracing this truism is not to wish away the daunting tasks that lay ahead for mankind; it is, quite simply, how the real work begins.
Rage, self-pity, willful ignorance, self-medication, violence, nihilism, suicide, substance abuse, hatred, cowardice, and a host of other defeatist behaviors on a mass scale will be the catalysts of the final death knell of civilization. And if that unpleasant run-on sentence sounded foreboding, then you are focusing in the wrong direction. All of the destructive yet common “coping mechanisms” listed above originate from the same place: our minds. But it is no one’s responsibility to monitor and care for someone else’s mind; in fact, it’s impossible. Each of us needs to become intimately acquainted with our own psyche. Most of us are not even close to such self-awareness, as the precarious state in which we find ourselves illustrates. Individually, I get the impression that many of us feel much like Colonel Kurtz’s metaphorical snail: crawling along the edge of a straight razor. I feel that way, too. We need to get off the razor and breathe, remember what is truly important to us, and learn to take personal responsibility for all that befalls us. I believe in the concept of karma, but such a conviction isn’t mandatory. If you truly want to be happy, the only way to approach that goal is to pinpoint and own the ways that you sabotage your own happiness and serenity. Most of us do this by ruminating incessantly on our self-made melodrama. We shake our fists at the sky, “Why me? Why now?”, we bellow into the ether, fishing for sympathy, we tell ourselves, “Goddammit, my life sucks and I deserve _______!” (fill in the blank with the most applicable behavior from the first sentence of this paragraph).
Self-awareness is not self-absorption. Resist the temptation to match the narcissism of despots with your own brand of the same thing. When you have adequately tamed your wild monkey mind through meditation, analysis, contemplation, therapy, prayer, yoga, or whatever avenue works best for you, it will become crystal clear that happiness comes from focusing outward. Help, commiserate, celebrate the victories of others, donate, volunteer, sympathize, and most importantly listen. Everyone needs to be heard and anyone with the wisdom to understand the true source of humanity’s suffering possesses a priceless set of ears. Spread love, rest well, and drink in the beauty of life – there’s still plenty of it to behold. Never forget that all is impermanent. Today, let’s all do ourselves a favor by doing someone else a favor. Me, you, him, her, them – the illusion of our separateness actually has a silver lining. It gives us others to love. Let’s fix this fucking mess, my friends. We don’t have a choice.