Monday, October 4, 2010

Fragments of the self, why whole living matters

I used to pride myself on being able to compartmentalize myself.  When I was at work, I didn't think about home.  When I was in class, I could look at bones or dead animals and not feel any compassion for them.  I could watch the evening news and then walk away to deal with my own problems, never giving thought to people around the world who I had learned were suffering.  Somehow in building all of those little psychological boxes, I lost myself.  I lost my sense of justice, my compassion, my will to take action to change the world around me.  I became lost in my own life.  Then I became depressed and angry.

When I was at my most depressed, the world revolved around me and my problems.  Little by little, I began missing myself.  I had become a person I didn't like.  Slowly, I found little ways to change, but it wasn't until I went back to school in 2005 that I really found myself.  My classes in anthropology and history were forcing me to examine my assumptions about how the world works.  My eyes were opened to a variety of world views and a range of ways that people were fighting back against suffering and injustice.  I cam e to understand that the things I did, had far reaching implications.  Things I bought contributed to genocide and murder and poverty.  My vote was important, not just to me and my community, but to people around the world.  My activities contribute to global warming.  It was an amazing wake up call.

I have learned that I can begin to change the world by changing my perspective.  I recycle more and buy less. I look more carefully into issues before i vote on them.  I ask myself, am I hurting anyone? Can I be more compassionate in this situation? I sign petitions and write letters and talk to people about climate change, politics and social justice.  I am healing myself, by trying to heal the world.  Baby steps can add up and at the end of my life, I want my children and grandchildren to know that I tried.  I did the best I could.  I was aware of my world.

Whole living is about incorporating the whole self into all aspects of your life.  Where you live, what you do and who you are make a difference in the world.  Compartments can be useful, but they also can be dangerous. Cutting yourself off from the world to avoid fear or pain hurts everyone, but most especially you.  Action is the antidote to despair and I no longer forget that.  I can change myself, and because I am part of this world, I can change the world.  So can you.

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