“A child can be taller than his/her father, but can never be older than him.” – African proverb
In her paradigm-shifting treatise ‘The Ethics of Ambiguity’, the French existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir insisted that “the present is not a potential past; it is the moment of choice and action”. Her assertion was that we are too often tempted to live the present with attitudes that were in vogue in the past. How true her words are, for too many of us naively treat today’s events and issues with attitudes from yesteryear. A better example is how we have to come understand that corruption disintegrates our society, yet the majority of us continue to engage in unethical actions.
In an era when knowledge has revealed to us that our actions today affect the future, many of us care less about ‘what we do’ and ‘do not do’ in the present. What we do not realise is that such an attitude signifies a fixation in the past. You have got to, in the words of Robert Nesta Marley, “emancipate yourself from mental slavery”. It was long ago that we had no sense of appreciation of the fact we can creatively expand the pie to cater for the needs of all, and the ‘any-means-necessary’ mentality evolved.
This implies that today such relationships with the world means your heart and mind are still tied to the past. It was those days of scarcity, when fear warped our hearts and minds and inspired the crab mentality of ‘pulling-others-down’ to get to the top that this attitude became prevalent. So ask yourself, what era are you living in if the crab mentality is your first strategic option?
The greater lesson our history lessons has taught us is that we should always wake up to the reality of the present. We cannot afford to continue making the mistakes of the past, when choices were made without consideration as to how they would impact the future. The true state of any moment operates on a vitality that is far larger than our pettiness, yet is inclusive of it, to shape the future. Thus, whatever we do should be focused on the “change we want to see”, instead of the immediacies which our emotions are centred on. Wisdom dictates that the best comes from giving our best, and not simply acting unconsciously.
More often than not, we act just anyhow because we have not taken time to consider how the most remarkable events happen. They do not simply drop from heaven. A person being kind to you is the result of practicing kindness over a period of time. It is an effort that has been consciously nurtured in optimism, and delivered with hope for the future. It is the result of contemplating on the ‘truer’ state of life in order to bring about the wonderfulness we all aspire to. Sadly, because many of us have no interest in tomorrow, we enjoy living today with attitudes from yesteryear. We are comfortable with perpetuating the “ill-serving codes and conventions handed down to us, often unquestioned, by the past and its power structures”.
The time is ripe for us to untie our hearts and minds from times past. Change is always at hand, but we need to change in order to harness opportunities the winds of change blow our way. The challenges of our humanity, more often than not, stem from our unwillingness to delay our gratification for a while longer. Is that not the reason we focus our energies on creating profit to the detriment of dignifying our humanity, when we know with certainty that dignifying our humanity would create all the profitability we could ever dream of. We know the essence of thinking and acting long-term, yet we focus too many of our actions on our immediacies. If you care to know, it is the mark of an insecure heart and unthinking mind to thrive on short-termism.
Today, we are fortunate of living in an era when we understand life to be like an iceberg. Only a smaller aspect of life has to do with the physical, the things we see. The bigger aspect of life has to do with the intangibles – that which we cannot see or touch, or even feel. This fact should inspire us to untie our hearts and minds from the past. We cannot continue to excuse ourselves with uncertainty and make the case that what we do does not count much.
“It is a sign of great inner insecurity to be hostile to the unfamiliar,” Anaïs Nin argued. We cannot hope for the ideal if we do not create it. We have what it takes to make life meaningful and worth living for all, but do you have the desire to see the ideal materialise? If you do, then you can no longer let your feet walk just anywhere; you have to purposefully carve a path, and march into tomorrow knowing what to expect…
Kodwo Brumpon is a management consultant and a life coach who inspires individuals, groups and corporate bodies to think and feel that which is true, and helps them to positively respond to that which is beautiful while nudging them to let goodness govern their actions. Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at email@example.com