The completion of yet another earth revolution presents us with the opportunity to contemplate on the many revolutions we have witnessed in 2019. Whatever changes and revolutions you may have gone through, this is what I wish for myself and for you in the new year — that we may find the time for solitude and the strength to express solidarity for a good fight.
In a world where children have little play-time and adults have little think-time, allocating time to learn and engage in solitude and introspection becomes increasingly vital. This has little to do with introversion or extroversion. Like Mathieu Ricard writes:
Withdrawing into solitude does not mean losing interest in what happens to other people. Quite the contrary, putting some distance between ourselves and the world’s activity gives us a new perspective on things, broader and more serene, and helps us to better understand the dynamic of happiness and suffering. By finding our own inner peace, we learn how to share it with others.– Mathieu Ricard (‘Happiness’)
Understanding the influences on our mind — culture, knowledge, experience, among many others — and their numerous blind sides places us in a better position to work towards goals that contribute to the greater good. We gain a deeper understanding of personal battles and the larger social contexts within which they are played out. This also helps us build greater intellectual honesty, empathy and compassion — important qualities for a deep and strong expression of solidarity.
Our choice to act (or not act) in solidarity with a cause is personal and political. But with the knowledge and wealth one accumulates for personal growth and well-being, one cannot feign ignorance about broader political and social issues that fundamentally affect everyone. When it comes to any act of solidarity, we may have little personal control over consequences due to the interaction of innumerable external events, but we always have the choice of adopting an altruistic motivation. In my opinion, this solidarity must translate to personal and professional ethics, a challenge within the existing market society (something I may write about later). In 2019, we have seen a global backlash against different elements of this market society and how narrow interests (victims of ideology themselves) selectively weaponise history and narratives to create division. Our challenge is to embrace an ethic of solidarity that breaks the barrier between our selves and others.
There are a lot of beginnings that we can make. A new year is only a reminder, but the choice to begin is ours, every moment.
I love all beginnings, despite their anxiousness and their uncertainty, which belong to every commencement. If I have earned a pleasure or a reward, or if I wish that something had not happened; if I doubt the worth of an experience and remain in my past — then I choose to begin at this very second.
Begin what? I begin. I have already thus begun a thousand lives.– Rilke (‘Early Journals’)
May you have a happy 2020.