Mindfulness & Civility

I was trained as a Buddhist monk, so to me mindfulness means more than stress reduction. Already, thousands of #MBSR practitioners have found that it also delivers resilience and a deeper sense of purpose.

Even more rarely discussed is its role in ethical life. Sadly, the words 'ethical' and 'moral' have become quaint, old-fashioned and apparently irrelevant. You can now choose your preferred reality, and whether it's really real or not matters little. Instead of evidence, we rely today on consensus. As long as enough people agree with me, I’m not wrong, and damn you if you say I am. This lazy old attitude is no longer a subconscious bad habit. It’s now a mainstream choice. People refer to their beliefs as a 'right,’ meaning that personal preferences trump rational decision-making.

When people have every right to be wrong, to stick to their opinion and to disparage anyone who disagrees, it’s no surprise to see where we’re at—familiar, secure, old-fashioned, civility all falling apart.

There IS a difference between right and wrong, between helping and harming, and between hating and collaborating, but the more we call for renewed dialog, the more discouraged we become that no one listens. Comparing notes is becoming a rarity as people dig into their point of view and close their eyes to alternatives.

I don’t wish fear on anyone, but we should be afraid.

We know that mindfulness opens your mind. It can also open society. Good leadership is rare today, but that’s no excuse. It’s up to each of us.

Author: Stephen Schettini

Stephen Schettini is a former Buddhist monk and teacher of mindfulness. He lives near Montreal with his wife, life coach Caroline Courey (see courey.com).

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