Continuing the theme of political correctness, Zadie Smith’s wonderful short story about a society at the logical conclusion of “Cancel culture” feels worryingly prescient.
Political correctness feels like a no-brainer to its advocates, and it would be really great if it was. But sadly this confidence, and the tendency towards absolutism to which it tends inevitably cause more problems than solutions. As Stephen Fry points out:
I’m standing next to someone with whom I have…differences in terms of politics and all sorts of other things, precisely because I think all this has got to stop. This rage, resentment, hostility, intolerance. Above all, this “with us or against us” certainty.
Regardless of which side of the debate you stand, you’ll almost certainly be able to point to the rage, resentment, hostility and intolerance of “the other side” as evidence of their misguidedness. But even if you’re right, this isn’t an end point. The day has to come where we choose to stand beside those with whom we disagree and talk to them. The language we use is secondary to the fact that we speak.
A lovely piece by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits on getting started with a meditation practice and the benefits of doing so:
Lots of people think meditation is about clearing your mind, or stopping all thoughts. It’s not. This can sometimes happen, but it’s not the “goal” of meditation. If you have thoughts, that’s normal. We all do. Our brains are thought factories, and we can’t just shut them down. Instead, just try to practice focusing your attention, and practice some more when your mind wanders.
I’ve read a great many things on the subject of lessons that can be learned from mindful practices, but this piece by Marley Flueger is easily one of my favourites:
The secret of yoga isn’t in the deepest backbend. It’s not in the perfect downward dog. There’s no secret in the longest-held “ohm.” The secret of yoga is in the things you teach yourself through repeated visits to your mat. It’s the practice of uncovering the wisdom of your soul.
Here are a few lessons you can learn if you show up and listen closely…
Seriously, do yourself a favour and read the whole thing.
Despite being a wonderfully practical philosophy, stoicism is often wrongly believed to be about simply gritting our teeth and enduring whatever comes our way. But this isn’t quite right.
In the video above, Ryan Holiday provides a nice primer on what the philosophy is, what it has to offer, and how it helps all kinds of people navigate the difficulties of life.
Clear, simple advice from Marianne Hayes on developing and maintaining a meditation practice. Particularly enjoyed this part about how meditation doesn’t need to be narrowly defined:
Chances are, you already meditate and aren’t even aware of it. My husband, a marathon runner, swears up and down that meditating isn’t his thing. But when I ask why he loves running, his answer is that it gives his mind a break. The rhythm of his feet hitting the pavement, his breath going in and out, the natural beauty he observes during a good run—all of it works in tandem to silence his thoughts and allow him to just be.
For my husband, running is a form of meditation.