December 27, 2020-
Many in this country envision a sea change about to come, though there are sharp differences, as to the course the change will take. Some, seeing the only saving grace for the nation being a return to traditionally dominant Eurocentric rule, place their hopes on an eleventh hour series of moves, which would reverse the results of last month’s election. Others, wanting to honour last month’s recorded results, still want to hold the victors of record accountable to the nation as a whole, and not cave in to small special-interest groups. A third group is seeking to build on common ground across the perceived chasm between the first two groups. The fourth group is the special-interests, who live for the amassing of power.
For much of this afternoon, I listened to Dr. Todd Smith, a Canadian scholar, speak about “Transformational Habits of the Mind”. Essentially, he distinguished between negative habits, which prevent transformation and positive habits, which bring transformation about.
The first include: Reductionism (All must be based on physical reality, at its lowest denominator); Dichtomizing (Classifying, without purpose, and ‘othering’); Individualism, to excess (The Cult of Me); Relativism (No moral generalities; tolerance, at best, of diversity);and Dogmatism (Polarization, selective information-gathering and hyper-partisanship).
The positive, transformational habits, are listed as : Situating ourselves historically (Seeing the present as worthy of full attention, whilst also aiming that present towards the betterment of the future); Thinking to the end of a process (An extension of the first habit); Loving one another (In the fully agape sense of deeply wanting the best for each person in one’s life, and for all created things); Embracing a humble posture of learning (Starting with realizing how little one really knows, and being open to learning from everyone, and from every experience, no matter how small); Being able to embrace tribulation (Not in the masochistic sense, but in being able to see the silver lining, and to draw strength from any experience, no matter how hard it is while one is enduring it).
I pondered this lecture, for quite a while afterward, recalling four individuals who brought trial to my life, in the past two years. All are gone from my life now, though, as I’ve said before, it would not take much to bring them back-with, I have to say, as much humility on their part as on mine. Each actually left gifts, however inadvertently. From one, I learned to be more present, and to organize my possessions. From the second, I learned patience with unending repetition and looping. The third taught me to exercise more care in my written expression, lest I leave unintended impressions. The fourth showed me how to establish greater security in my electronic affairs. Each left, after indulging self in ridiculing me, or in one case, ridiculing my long-departed wife. Those acts of self-aggrandizement became their own rewards.
So, for me, Dr. Smith’s advice comes as a cautionary message. There is a clear path, of following five practices and stopping myself before following five others. This will certainly be more essential, if the pace of the coming nine years, and beyond, is as fast as my Cosmic Advisor says is likely. It is just sound advice, regardless.