Living Consciously

June 21, 2010

“As an expression of positive self-esteem we have to promote the value of living consciously in a society where everyone is encouraged to be  unconscious.”               bell hooks

So it is not easy to live consciously in the here and now with a clear awareness of our challenges and our strengths.  It seems that Americans have a particular difficulty with wanting to live in reality.  For starters, we consume more illegal drugs than any other country.  In addition, food is rapidly becoming our drug of choice.  For the first time in history, the current generation stands a chance to die at an age younger than the previous generations due to the level of obesity in our society.

The barriers to living consciously include:  Our own brains. Our brains work hard to shield us from stress by helping us find ways to deny reality, maintain a fantasy or simply just forget our problems.  Then, there is American society at large that promotes fantasy because it sells stuff, a byproduct of capitalism.  You may distract yourself from other painful thoughts if you can believe that owning a particular brand of whatever makes you a better this or that. 

Media has also lately become pretty useless in terms of us knowing what is really going on in other parts of the world.  My mom worked for CBS News for years, she is retired now, but over her last 10 yearsof working she would say:  “News is dead.”  I seriously did not understand what she was talking about until recently.  It dawned on me when I was watching a morning “news” program that had no news except for what was going on with celebrities.  What?

But on the side of denial, some of the stuff we don’t know can be painful and overwhelming. I know watching the very real underwater plumes of oil makes me feel helpless and worried.   However, if we know what’s going on around us, we can do something about it, even if it is in a small way, like vote for and support people who will put in proper regulations to prevent this crap.  If we know what’s going on around us we can put into perspective what is important, like our health and our loved ones.

On the side of reality, I want to share with you a blog radio show of which I have become a fan.  I say to my self: ” Ok, I will only listen to part of it”, then I find myself completely absorbed, listening in for what they are saying even after the show has apparently ended.  It’s called:   The World In Black and White and you can find it at: .  It is really laying down some very hefty discussions about politics and race.  You may not agree with everything they are saying, but you will definitely be provoked to think deeply about things.  This is not for children, the language can be quite raw.

(August 7th 2010:  Note on “The World in Black and White”  on blogtalkradio.  Just over one month ago the co-anchors went their separate ways.  The discussions were such that they could not see eye to eye on some issues of race.   Frankly, I was siding with the woman anchor on most of the issues as the male anchor was pushing the idea that whites experience as much “racism as Blacks”.  Umm, I know we have come a long way, but I don’t think so…  The woman anchor will be starting her own show so I will keep you posted.)

2 Responses to “Living Consciously”

  1. A.D. said

    I would suggest that we live in a society that less encourages one to be unconscious than it is one that constantly seeks to incite our emotions as opposed to appealing to our intellect. Problems cannot possibly be successfully reconciled, or even mitigated, without containing the emotional dynamic and seeking the intellectual awareness and understanding that is necessary to invoke real solutions. Yes, an emotional reaction is an understandable first reaction, but then the problem needs to be solved, and that can only occur intellectually, in a relative calm. The relative ease or difficulty of the issue at hand is essentially inconsequential, there has to be an intellectual understanding and awareness, based on sound facts, however challenging they may be to confront. This fact is exacerbated when having to deal w/ complex problems, so many of which face us collectively and individually as human beings. You can’t think when you’re not cool. You can’t hear when you’re shouting. You can’t be open to different perspectives when your mind is closed. You can’t be right if you’re not willing to be honest.

    Is it that the “news is dead?” or is it that the media (and politicians and business marketing) is so consumed with the theatre that they so thoroughly enjoy and compete for, all the while insulting us by an abject refusal to treat us like adults, the fact that so many of us refuse to behave as such notwithstanding. A case in point relative to the current crisis in the gulf: We’re all hating BP and deservedly so. Seeing the environmental impact that is resulting from their negligence rightfully enrages us. However, intellectually, surely one has to understand that it is only BP that has the expertise to reconcile the crisis that they have created, not the government. If you believe, as most probably do, that BP is mainly concerned with the bottom line, and that this focus led to the negligence that created this disaster, then certainly one can see where they (BP) are watching billions drain into the sea, and foreseeing billions more that they will have to expend in compensation, w/ expend being the operative word. So then what possible incentive would BP have to not move expeditiously to end this leak? Yet there is this constant emotional chorus, led by the media, that they are not sufficiently concerned and / or should have been removed from the beginning, and the operation taken over by the government, and the most ridiculous of all: that somehow President Obama is at fault or has been negligent.

    From the outset, after the idiot drug-addict Limbaugh declared this was Obama’s Katrina, it seemed that I was reading on a daily basis the results of a poll taken to gauge the publics assessment of the presidents response until they achieved the negative numbers that they were looking for. How is this anything like Katrina? This constant emotional barrage trumps intellect, for I don’t believe that people are fully appreciative of how difficult this is. How many times have you heard people saying in interviews that they don’t believe there is a sense of urgency? Of course they feel that way, they’re impatient, they’re frustrated, they’re emotional, the oil continues to spew. There’s not a lack of urgency, this is hard! By a lack of intellectual awareness I’m not inferring stupidity, but a lack of understanding fueled by the constant emotional pull as the oil continues to spew. Wouldn’t we be better served if the media was explaining to us how difficult it is to respond to an event that is happening at a level at which no human being is able to descend? Helping us to understand what it really means to be 5000 feet below sea level. This has never happened before, and it’s HARD.

    A similar narrative can be applied to all of the other complex problems that we are confronted with. I recall in an interview shortly after his election, when President Obama was asked about being in office at a time of challenges of such magnitude, unprecedented in their being so far-reaching. His response was though he would not have desired it, he felt emboldened that the times would force people to be more attentive. I thought so also; however, what I find most disappointing is that his (and my) expectation in many ways has not been realized as far too many have been consumed by the emotional at the expense of the intellectual. They allow themselves to be fooled. They suffer from selective amnesia. They feel secure in the emoting of their own opinions, whether or not they are based on sound facts. And all around them, they are constantly incited, constantly subjected to their intelligence being insulted.

    If humankind would commit to being more conscious of the power of their intellect, and less enmeshed in the immediacy and sustenance of their emotions, then society would perhaps find itself better equipped to collectively and individually achieve real solutions to complex problems, or at the very least, engage in intelligent dialogue. Having peace of mind requires engaging the mind peacefully, even when it’s hard. Reality demands this of us, we need to demand it of ourselves and from those around us.


    • Hey AD: I agree with you that we are not encouraged to think in this society.

      I think the media does affect this trend because they do play on our emotions by spinning information to placate some groups. And they just plain ole avoid giving us some facts. But I also feel that we are epidemically avoidant of our thoughts and feelings, and this is not just the fault of the media.

      Some people are really mad at Obama right now, but I believe he is the master of trying to solve these major issues with solid intellect and decision making using the best strategies available to him. He is a model for us all in terms of that. Also, Ms Obama is trying to address the obesity issue.

      But, I also think until we learn better to address our feelings, and that becomes more of a mainstream conversation, we will continue to be unconscious. It will be difficult for us to even get to solving our problems with intellect.

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