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.