Worrying about the world’s problems is often an excuse for not working on our own problems

Many people worry constantly about world problems such as climate change and discrimination.

While these are serious problems that require dedicated action, we need to begin with whatever is in our control. Otherwise, we may be fooled by our mind, which specializes in diversion and misdirection. The Bhagavad-gita (18.35) indicates that self-defeating thought-patterns characterize a mind infected by the mode of ignorance.

One diversionary trick of the mind is to fixate us on uncontrollable problems and blind us to controllable problems. If we worry about how we will fare at a job interview instead of studying to prepare for that interview, we hurt ourselves, and we know that we are hurting ourselves. But when the object of our worry is a global issue that is also often in the public eye, we hardly ever realize that we are hurting ourselves. To the contrary, professing that we are worried about that issue when other people aren’t gives us a sense of moral superiority. Additionally, it asks nothing from us except to raise slogans and strike public poses. Such virtue signaling about world problems is far easier than becoming virtuous in our personal life, which requires committed effort.

Even if we aren’t virtue signaling, still the inside-out approach remains the most viable. If we can’t cultivate basic virtues such as punctuality, tidiness and steadiness, how can we solve world problems? If we have never fixed our own car, could we fix a plane?

A universally helpful virtue that we all can develop is a cleaner consciousness. When our consciousness isn’t dissipated in pet peeves and resentment-induced paralysis, we get the inner clarity to understand how we can best improve things in our own small world and thereby gain insight to help improve things in the bigger world.

Think it over:

  • How does our mind divert us?
  • How is virtue signaling easier than virtue cultivation?
  • How can a cleaner consciousness help us?

 

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