My last several posts (Have we learned anything?; January 27, 2012: expanding my knowledge and breaking my heart; January 30, 2012) have focused on the aggression related to war with a particular emphasis on the aggression connected to the Holocaust. This writing is in contrast to the many posts I have written about stillness and patience throughout January 2012. Yet upon reflection (realizing the horror of it all; January 31, 2012) I realize that the need for stillness and the need to draw attention to aggression come from the same place.
I have been struggling with the exploration of stillness within the context of my disposition, that of questioning the status quo and always asking why. This way of being and seeing the world leads into a quagmire of reaction and response to things that may otherwise go unnoticed or be easily dismissed. My struggle centres on whether relishing stillness negates the examination of the issues that come to my attention.
As I noted in my post Is this stillness or an impasse? (January 17th, 2012) I see stillness by its very nature as a way of travelling along the journey of life not something to be accomplished as an endpoint goal. I challenged that if we have reached a pinnacle of stillness or calm we need to be cognizant that we may use this state in a way that blocks any challenge of the status quo. That may be okay if we view everything as being the way it should be. This in fact may be the case for our personal situation, we may have everything we need and not be outwardly suffering in way, shape or form. However, we do not have to open our eyes too widely to see the social injustice that occurs all around us. I noted that rather than viewing stillness and patience as an avenue for relaxation and reduced activity perhaps we should be seeing it as a mechanism to bring us closer to an expanded awareness. Further I posited that through this awareness we are able to achieve a broadened perspective and more meaningful engagement in the world. Maybe through that expanded awareness we are able to go beyond our individual personal worlds and use our fortunate position of strength to assist others who are not so fortunate.
In another post: Harmony in stillness (January 19, 2012) I suggested that “progress towards stillness and patience gives us an opportunity to open our awareness and see where and what we are doing with our lives and whether this still makes sense”. Within the context of a level of personal stillness and patience we have an opportunity to contribute to the making of a more peaceful world. In particular, rather than absentmindedly contributing knowingly or unknowingly to various forms of violence, fear or anger in our world we may be able to stand back and think before we respond and act thus preventing the negative forms of response. Thus reducing the amount of energy that is laden with aggression and violence. Being mindful of our responses and reactions allow us to choose to act in a way that goes in the opposite direction. In this way we are able to contribute in a more thoughtful and peace-promoting way. The outcome in this case is that we feel better about our actions and the response we receive from others all along contributing to a more cooperative, peaceful and ultimately positively productive environment within our world.
As in some of my thoughts about moderation and choice (October and November, 2011) by changing how we respond to other people and considering the opportunities presented to us and examining how we lead our lives, we are better able to move towards enhancing community, cooperation, and relationship. Having a part in promoting these elements of society is where the value of personal patience and stillness can be found. By increasing the numbers of people who consider and then experience these states and the intensity of these states the positive impact on the overall operation of society is heightened. We open our awareness and begin to question and see where and what we are doing within society and whether this still makes sense. Taking the time to evaluate and reconsider some of our now accepted practices can help us evolve in a direction that can support and sustain the planet and how we live in harmony within it.
I have come to the understanding that I need the ability to be still, to be patient with myself and with others if I am able to continue my open challenge of some of the things that we as a society accept on face value but that I believe need to be questioned. This relates to our ability to make choices, choices that put us on the path of contributing to community, cooperation and peace and consciously choosing not to contribute to fear and aggression even if we are fearful ourselves.
Boiling this down has given me the sense that stillness does not equate to complacency. That for the common good those who are able to achieve stillness can translate their renewed energy into action. Although on the surface this action may seem different than stillness it is only through stillness that it can take place in a genuine manner. Being able to count on patience to hold us together as we venture into uncharted areas is critical to our success at keeping an even keel as we make our way through the rough seas of change.
I have come to terms with my struggle and reiterate that although on one level there appears to be a conflict between my focus on stillness and my bringing attention to aggression, violence and other not so pleasant aspects of our world I believe that it is only through my stillness that I am able to do so. Therefore I will continue to challenge and question and at the same time will continue to emphasize the value of stillness, patience and being mindful of my choices, actions and how I respond to our world.
Irene McDermott © 2012