Awareness is a first step in our becoming human. Babies are aware of themselves when they cry for food or because of a dirty diaper. But they grow up and realize that they are not the center of the universe though some make a return to that state of self-centeredness during their teenage years. But when they mature, they realize that there are other people with equal needs and equal rights. It’s all part of socialization, being able to live together in a civil society.
We’ve lost some of that. It’s easy to see or hear the consequences when people drive with their car windows open and the radio blasting whatever THEY like. Or drivers barely slow at stop signs. And it continues when people and nations make decisions, like babies, saying “I can do what I want!” no matter the impact on others. These are then not ripples but big waves and even bigger tsunamis are formed when the large community is ignored as with health matters as is the case with COVID-19 where people decided not to get vaccinated or practice social distancing contributing to the spread of the disease.
Likewise refusing to support common-sense gun controls along with macho ads for semiautomatic weapons with the resultant number of mass shootings. Denying climate change and the impact of carbon emissions will literally result in the drowning of coastal regions in the not-too-distant future. It’s something to think about – the lack of awareness of how an individual’s anti-social behavior when replicated millions of times can gravely injure society as a whole and come back on the perpetrators themselves.
Awareness of self without acknowledging that another person has equal rights is short-sighted; to believe that one can act purely selfishly without consequences has been proven again and again to be injurious to all.
No one is perfect and it’s difficult to change behavior overnight. But it’s essential to make an effort, to expand how we think of others that are not like us. Perhaps we can momentarily see them as a modified version of ourselves: a little taller, a little darker or lighter, of a different gender or sexual orientation, or older or younger. After a couple of drinks, ask yourself if you could have been her or him – your brain or soul or essence dropped into another body. (And maybe this time you’d be in one where you didn’t have to diet all the time etc.)
How about taking this challenge: you see a stranger on the street – stop, and imagine you are them for a minute. How are you feeling? Look through their eyes back at your body – ask yourself what would they be thinking about you. Remember: what goes round comes round.
Awareness helps us become inclusive and to realize we’re all on the same team. Divisive actions are putting holes in our boats. Hate sinks communities and countries after it destroys the individual. Acknowledging the other is an action that profits all of us. Kindness rejuvenates, and love restores.
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.