Every end of year, I stop for a moment to look back and reflect on what’s happened throughout the year. Based on what has been, I try to make a prediction for what lays ahead in the new coming year. Of course, nobody can predict the future, but if we can determine the path we’re on, then we may find clues as to where we’re potentially headed.
I try to assess the good and the bad of what has been. I look at what I consider my personal achievements and my failures, my growth and my shortcomings. Then, I try to do the same with the world around me. I try to figure out how much has actually changed and what new direction it all seems to be heading in.
Personally, I started this year with car problems, computer problems, hefty expenses, a big trip to India and allowing myself to be conned there. I think I spiritually grew a little more after having attended His Holiness the Dalia Lama’s teachings and walking in the footsteps of the Buddha. I met some beautiful people from all walks of life; from all around the globe, and I learned more about a fearless side of me I never quite knew existed.
As fate would have it, I finished the year with car problems, computer problems and, yet again, being conned by a vendor. However, I met more beautiful people throughout the year, and I worked on further developing the fearless side of me that was unleashed in India. All in all, it would seem that the year certainly started as it meant to continue. Yet, not everything is status quo. Big changes are on the horizon; not just for me personally but on a global scale. Yet, what does it all mean for us?
I wrote an article once about how, the older we get the more we tend to stay in our comfort zones. Human nature is to feel safe in our surroundings. We tend not to stray too far in case something happens or we find ourselves out of our depth. We tend to slow down in case we have an accident. We lock ourselves up for fear of someone taking something from us. We tend to stay home so we don’t have to face others.
We fear harm. We fear age. We fear the man on the street who looks different to us. We’re intimidated by a gang of kids hanging around on a street corner. We fear flying. We fear metros. We fear any religion that doesn’t align with ours. We fear ideology. We fear creativity. We fear the people protesting on the streets; fighting for something better. We fear everything and anything that falls into the realm of the unknown. Ironically, we even fear discovery and knowledge because it challenges the very foundations of who we “think” we are.
The terrible thing about fear is that it has a tendency to make us feel inwardly insecure and unsafe. Yet, outwardly, we often manifest these feelings with defensive behavior. We lash out; attacking others to compensate for our short-comings, and without giving them a chance to express themselves. We might fall into a state of depression and withdraw completely from others.
As a way of self-preservation, we tend to steer clear of situations that push us beyond our boundaries, and we try to convince others to do the same. We project our fears onto others; even if it is with the best intention of keeping them safe from harm.
If there is a real situation of personal endangerment to ourselves or others, then our fears would be warranted and duly justifiable. However, when our fears are built on the foundations of ignorance, i.e. not knowing, it becomes fear for fear’s sake. Under these circumstances, we’re deliberately - consciously or unconsciously - sabotaging ourselves and others.
There is no progression in life without a certain degree of risk, and everything in life is a risk. There’s no escaping from it. Everything we do has a certain element of risk attached to it. Every time we make a choice we’re gambling; we’re betting on one thing rather than another. The only difference between one risk and another is the amount of predictability we have with regards to each outcome.
Also, as I have said many times before, when we cling too rigidly to one belief as opposed to another, we’re being inflexible and denying ourselves the advantage of knowledge that might come from a different perspective to our own.
For too long, we’ve allowed authoritative figures and the media to tell us what to believe and which way to go. Yet because of this, it now appears that the world is not heading for a better way of living. Our food is being genetically altered. Organic farms are being raided. Perfectly good produce is being disposed of with bleach so that nobody can benefit from it, and laws are being passed to prohibit people from growing their own food. Yet, 1 billion people are starving to death and 1.4 billion people are living below the poverty line.
There is civil unrest, war or protesting taking place in, almost, 50 out of 196 countries. There is a constant threat, and a very real fear of a world war III looming over our heads. Our natural resources are slowly being depleted and the earth has very little drinkable water left. People can now be arrested, detained, tortured and locked away without rhyme or reason. Racism and religious sectarianism is rife, and all this was the creation of governments, and their backers, whose only priorities are money, greed and power. All these events make my car and computer problems seem completely insignificant.
We’ve reached a point where many think they can’t make a difference in the order of the world, but every one of us can. Our behavior towards others can influence people on a much larger scale than we could ever imagine. A smile or a kind word can travel around the world and we can be the initiators of that smile. Every little thing we do has a knock-on effect somewhere.
My broken car puts me in a bad mood. I react badly with a client, who then goes home and shouts at her husband, who in turn shouts at an employee in the hotel. She goes home and shouts at her child who in turn pulls the hair of a little girl at school, who in turn tells her parents. There is a confrontation and one set of parents shout at another. They go home and argue. The next day, they both shout at people at work who go home and shout at their long distance relatives who called them with a family issue to resolve. The 4 members of their family then post a message on facebook that, in turn, puts all their friends in a bad mood and, before long, tension rises and much aggression starts coming from all angles. Then, when I least expect it a client shouts at me. My one lousy car day found a way to come back and bite me.
So, in 2012, I think we should all think very carefully about exactly what we put out into the world, because whatever it is, sooner or later, we’ll get it back.