Via Basel: Paying Attention


Only last week I discussed Mindfulness/Meditation on EIL and how it has recently become an even more integral part of my life as I am involved in teaching it at a behavioral health center. A very short definition would be: paying full and complete ATTENTION to the present moment and being totally aware of it.

As the sad and tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia unfolded soon after with the murder of Heather D. Heyer, a 32-year-old woman and a counter-protester to a rally of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members, I tried to contain and process my mixed emotions of anger, repulsion, grief, and more. I came across the word “attention” again. This time it was in a quotation from a Facebook post by Ms. Heyer months before that incident on the subject of discrimination and injustice: If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention.

Here, mindfulness implies an expanded and nuanced version of my original definition to include paying attention to your surroundings, environment, relationships, and others. This requires discernment, as a choice has to be made among several things competing for your attention, and since anyone’s ability to focus and be attentive is limited. That is where your priorities become evident, whether they are ego, ethno, tribal, or world-centric. In-depth reflection will bring insight into your  role in all that is happening. That can range from being most active to being a casual observer. You may not feel outraged at all (which is where I take issue with the quotation). That is your privilege which  is totally acceptable as long as you are fully aware and conscious of it. It then becomes your responsibility since inaction can have just as significant consequences as action.

Our future will therefore be determined not only by the strength of our convictions but by the degree of our attention.

Heather Heyer’s last Facebook post, via The Independent

Via Basel on Being vs. Doing




  • Joe Kilikevice

    Thank you Basel for your thoughtful and carefully articulated posting on EIL. After reflecting on your words, I have several things to offer. I like the word “outrage.” I consider it a virtue in response to the attitude, words and actions of President Trump. Paying attention means not going to a place of denial or considering the world effecting issues we face today, “the new normal.” If we lose our capacity for outrage the change the world desires and needs for survival will not happen. Outrage is a motivator to not only pay attention but to also to join others in acting to bring about this change. And I add that the virtue of outrage is non-violent and does not include harming others in any way. Isn’t standing with others as shown in the photo you include in your posting paying attention with others to give and receive support and encouragement fir the task of restoring civility and American values?

  • Basel Al-Aswad

    Appreciate your comments Joe and agree with all you said. I wanted to emphasize the importance of the attention aspect in holding people responsible for their inaction. Love this Abraham Lincoln quote :
    ” To Sin by Silence
    when they should protest
    makes cowards of men.”