On conflict

Recent events (which I won’t go into detail over because I have neither the knowledge nor the first hand exposure required to comment from a position of any legitimacy) have caused me to dwell on the topics of compassion, judgment, and simple kindness.

Acts of violence and cruelty make me uncomfortable. I tend to avoid televised news broadcasts, and instead receive my news through what I like to believe are more objective radio news programs on outlets such as NPR which, in my opinion, seem to avoid blatant emotional manipulation which ultimately feeds emotionally-driven and sometimes unreasonable behavior. Recently we went to see the film Nightcrawler and I was sickened by the idea that it probably wasn’t too far-fetched of a concept. I’m quite certain there are those who will stand behind a camera and shamelessly invade the most private, painful of moments to make a buck. I try to avoid any support of this horrid behavior by not consuming sensationalized media.

I like my television programming to mostly be of the warm and fuzzy and/or entirely not realistic variety. Yes, many of the shows I currently watch have an element of violence, cruelty, conflict, murder and downright abhorrent behavior, but interestingly enough I’m finding as I seek a more balanced and centered life through my yoga practice I find these elements less appealing. My favorite shows, books, video games – any of the media I consume – are those where there is an evil which is defeated and goodness (almost) always wins. This is how I want the world to be. Good should always triumph over evil. Compassion over cruelty. Sympathy over judgment.

What recent events force me to acknowledge is that my ideal world does not exist. There are bad people in the world, and sometimes those bad people win. There are good people in the world who can feel such pain, belittlement, degradation and despair that they are driven to do bad things. There are flawed people who appear to perform good acts, but in private they commit atrocious crimes which overshadow or negate their good deeds when brought to light.

What I do know to be true is that we have a choice. We can choose to fill our minds, our thoughts, and our hearts with kindness. We can choose to use our words to express sympathy and teach others understanding and patience. We can choose not to support those who encourage hatred and practice greed at the expense of others. We can choose to pay attention to what companies and people our dollars, attention, and social media activities support.

We start with ourselves.

We can only start with ourselves.

Personally, I’m starting by challenging myself to audit my thoughts and words. Next time I feel a judgment or criticism bubble up, I’m going to exchange it for a thought of sympathy or an act of kindness. What is your personal challenge? If we focus on bringing mindfulness to our thoughts and actions every day, we truly can change the world.

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