The Change Begins with You
To be complacent is a scary thing. If you think about your life and your daily routines, your mind probably goes on auto-pilot from the moment you wake up, brush your teeth, get ready and drive to work. Unless you practice mindfulness, odds are you’re probably somewhere else in your mind, unknowingly. When you live in a big city, it desensitizes you.
In my recent travels to San Francisco, an Uber drive talked about living in SF and how becoming desensitized is inevitable. Initially, you’re stricken by the harsh environment of the homeless suffering from mental illness and/or serious drug addictions like heroin. After a while, seeing it on a daily basis, you learn to ignore it; thus, becoming a normal part of your daily routine. The homeless addict blends in with the business of the city as you go about your routine with horse blinders on.
The saddest part about it is, you become so indifferent to the point where the homeless guy, now dead, across the street goes unnoticed. Not because he’s dead, but because you’ve seen him every day getting his fix. Calling the cops is useless because there’s not much they can do; some of these people are so high they’re nearly “dead”, but still “alive”. You come home and the homeless guy you saw this morning hasn’t moved at all. Your concern for his well being increases; you decide to call the police once you’re inside. You enter your building to settle in and forget about the dead homeless guy across the street.
You get home and you forgot about the dead homeless guy across the street.
I was told another story just recently about my cousin’s boyfriend. He was riding his motorcycle in LA and fell making a turn one day. His bike, just a few feet away from him, spun on its side, as he laid on the ground trying to process what just happened. Cars slowed down, driving around him, but no on seemed to stop. Finally, an African American family stopped to see if he was okay, and made sure he was back up and on his bike before they continued about their day. Knowing how busy LA is, only 1 car stopped to help him. With the way our society is these days, I’d bet there were photos, snapchats, and videos posted online for the world to see regarding this incident.
But only 1 car stopped to help him.
What’s happening to our humanity? The homeless, the mentally ill, and the drug addicts are still people. Though many people have stigmas with motorcycles, those riders are people, too. Just because we don’t necessarily agree with other’s choices in life doesn’t make them any less human; that doesn’t make us any better than them, either. We are rapidly losing respect for one another, building more disconnect, animosity and segregation. This is the world we’ve built. These are the people we’ve become.
These stories unfortunately end up as nothing more than conversational pieces we may or may not pass along. They make us think for one second, but once the stories’ over, we go about our lives unaffected; indifferent; desensitized.
What’s happened to our humanity? Have we lost it, or is this just how it has “evolved”?
My apologies for the impending cliches: if you want to help make the world a better place, the change begins with you. Practicing mindfulness and compassion can make a huge difference in not only your life, but of the lives around you as well. Raise your awareness to the present and be here now. When your mind wanders, ready to go on auto-pilot, simply bring your mind back to what’s happening right now. Pay attention and focus on doing each task on its own, instead of multi-tasking or thinking about what to have for dinner when you haven’t even had breakfast.
In addition, have compassion for everyone, including yourself. We’re not meant to be perfect beings. We constantly strive for this idea of “perfection” but we’re striving for a goal that doesn’t exist. Our idea of perfection has become so skewed that we struggle to see the perfection in simply being imperfect. We are so quick to judge the decisions of other people, to criticize their life choices, and even chastise something that’s not in their control – their looks and appearance. We all experience the same emotions at the end of the day; it’s part of our human condition. If you don’t like the way it feels when someone judges you, don’t do it to other people. Instead, try to find compassion in their harsh demeanor and understand that their words are a reflection of how they truly feel about themselves. It’s definitely easier said than done, but hate breeds hate quicker than the speed of light.
If you want to make a difference in the world, be mindful of your actions and your words. Be compassionate. Be kind. Be love, and give love.