Engaging with Social Issues
With Friendliness and Care
Fixating on what you think is bad and wrong, dictating how others should behave and having high expectations of how you think the world should be is not helpful for anyone.
Life is hard and really fucked up in a literally infinite number of ways and fixating on a negative idea is not helpful. There will always be something really negative to shout about.
This obviously doesn’t mean that we can’t listen to the challenges and engage with the world to try and make it a better place.
Friendliness and compassion, or a deep sense of care, allow us to engage with the world in a helpful and meaningful way.
There is a strange paradox to global modern life where we exist in a vast system that creates everything that happens and we don’t control it, yet we also are that system. It is our daily actions that creates it.
The challenge of our modern world is that we have to find a way to engage with it, in a meaningful and productive way that doesn’t cause hatred, despair or burnout.
In order to do this we need to approach problems with an open mind and open heart. This is really hard to do because problems are the things that hurt and if we sincerely express our heart’s desires of how we want things to be, even to ourselves, we have to face the disappointment that we feel if and when we don’t get it.
To deal with this we negotiate. This is important – we can’t move through the world expecting all our heart’s desires to be met exactly as we want – but when this process happens subconsciously, we get very fixed ideas about how we need things to be.
We have already done the negotiating in our heads about the minimum we expect from ourselves, other people and the world so we think that it should respond and meet us in that place. We get mad and offended when this doesn’t happen and we aren’t open to co-creating our understanding of reality and our response to it.
One of the hard truths of life is that the world and other people don’t owe us anything. We didn’t sign up to be in this world, but neither did anyone else. We’re all just trying to muddle through together and sometimes it’s really hard and really shit.
If we want a better world, we have to be willing to show up to build it. We can’t sit on the sidelines judging everyone, expecting our opinions to change things.
“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion”
Hearts are where we are naturally young – unlike brains they’re very simple, sincere and emotional. Unless we go through a process of learning to engage with our hearts in a mature way, they will cause us to be reactive, naive and demanding.
If we don’t make space to listen to what our hearts are telling us, they will start manipulating our behaviour. They will either subconsciously create perceptions that make us feel safe because ‘we know we are right’ and feel we can tell everyone else how they should be, or you will consciously use your emotions to manipulate people into doing what you want.
We develop a mature relationship with our hearts through making space to listen to them, learning humility and practicing patience.
This comes from embodying the understanding that our emotional needs and wants are valid, but we aren’t the centre of the Universe and good things can take time and hard work to manifest.
This also buys us a huge amount of freedom – understanding that each one of us is only one person on a planet of 7 billion people in a vast Universe means that we don’t have to decide what is right and wrong, you just have to show up in this moment and do the best you can.
Show up, feel what you feel, want what you want and engage with care and consideration with the opportunities you are given.
That is all we can do. It takes a lot of courage to realise the level of vulnerability that that creates in our experience.
Meaningful action comes from recognising our deepest desires and finding small ways that we can take steps towards that based on realistic information and data.
It is the balance that comes from the wisdom of a relaxed, open mind and the passion of what our hearts really care about.
Hearts are where we aren’t separate from other people so normally what we recognise as something we want, we notice that other people also need or want too. We often find the things we most want ourselves by giving it to others.
When this system is short-circuited by an immature heart and a fixed mind, we end up getting dictatorial views about what should be happening in the world. This behaviour happens at all ends of the political spectrum and in most organisations.
Developing maturity in our emotions takes time, effort, energy and learning, just like learning intellectual intelligence does.
I believe that people developing emotional maturity is one of things the world needs most. If only we could spend half our school time learning emotional intelligence, the world would be a lot more of a pleasant place to exist in.
These are the steps for engaging with an open mind and open heart, from a mature and realistic place that allows us to take meaningful steps towards the issues that matter to us.
Remember that we never arrive anywhere, we only get to take part in the process.
Here is a list of words that summarise our basic needs and wants in life. They may help you identify and focus on what you sincerely want for yourself and others: