I gave a short (5 min) lecture at a Kwanzaa program on Kujichagulia on the importance of symbols and celebrations. One thing that I said, that I was prompted to revisit after seeing the numerous posts about…well, I’ll simply say nonsense unworthy of further attention or discussion, is that we live in a society where we are compelled to operate at a superficial level of understanding of all things. Thus we are often encouraged to focus on individuals, things, and events that can only distract us from deepening our knowledge about ourselves and the world, as well as our practice of the values and behaviors that have the potential to make it one that is truly livable.

I like to remind myself that our minds are somewhat akin to an input-output system. The quality of my consciousness (meaning awareness) is proportional to the degree to which I invest in cultivating said awareness. Thus if I engage in activities that stimulate my ability to critically interrogate reality, then I naturally habituate and strengthen those abilities. The same is true regarding our ethical practices. If I engage in activities that reinforce my ethical reasoning and practice, then I further the internalization and augmentation of those abilities. This is why I try to pay relatively little attention to foolishness. I do pay some attention to it, enough to know where it is, where it is coming from, what it looks like, how it seduces the mind and degrades the spirit, and so forth. But to go beyond this, I fear, would give too much power to things that, in the final analysis, will fail to help me to manifest as the person that I choose to be in the world.

I consider this degree of discernment to be the foundation of what it means to live purposefully. To be ensnared by false notions is perhaps the greatest form of enslavement.

Above the cacophony of noise

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