Awareness in Action

In a later written to James Harmon for the book, Take My Advice, the late Murray Bookchin writes, “Our ideas must always be completed, fully thought out, and richly informed by a knowledge of the past.  To separate oneself from the past, to maintain a sense of mere nowness, to deny what reason has to give us, as well as intuition, and most dangerously to leave ones thoughts unfinished, is to risk the grave dangers of manipulation and ignorance.” This quote speaks deeply to me about the importance of awareness and presence in our daily lives.  Bookchin would argue that we must develop a sense of connection in our lives that unifies us with the world around us in multiple ways.  We must be aware of our surroundings and current situations, but we must also be aware of our past and how our past influences our actions today.

I frequently focus on self awareness and for a long time I have worked to cultivate my own thoughts and ideas about the planet away from the television, but I never put things in the perspective of Bookchin.  The television according to Bookchin, isolates us in a space that is neither past nor present, it is a suspended reality where  we give up our thought and allow outside forces to shape us.  Our unique background, our independent existences, and our individual thoughts are pushed aside for a vision of life created by others.  In this quote, the idea that people are influenced by television is pushed beyond the simple and benign world of advertising influences and driven to a perspective of people being shaped by the television they watch.  When we abandon our complete thoughts of the past and fail to analyze our current situation, we open ourselves up to be manipulated by another.  We become easily influenced and accept one perspective as our ticket out of ignorance.

I think that Bookchin would encourage in depth journaling as a way to process the events that happen to us, and help us begin to build an awareness of the world.  This aligns with many of the ideas that Richard Wiseman presents in his book 59 Seconds in which he describes the importance of journaling and writing as reflective exercises.  Writing according to Wiseman provides a chance for the brain to systematically organize and express information.  This systematic approach to reviewing our thoughts and actions helps us build awareness and create new connections in our lives.

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