The last year has brought deep sorrow, undefinable joy and captivating discoveries both with my personal and professional life. In the years that I have lived the most evident truth I have found is that baring my soul to those who see my artwork or read my poetry is bound to cause a multitude of emotions both within myself and the person entering my life.
With technology today we are allowed to view other’s lives without full disclosure of our own, we are allowed to pontificate those truths which we find valuable, cleverly criticize that which we find beneath the level of our own perceived warranted verified reality. It is too easy today to blur the lines of what is and what might be. After all we all exist on social media authoring our day-to-day events, it is of no great labor to aspire to be someone or something and virtual facts of existence emerge. Is this copy-and-paste reality nourishing or depleting our souls? Do we think we become what we say? A kind of reality show life we like to disapprove of but secretly covet? I have read it over and over in numerous blogs: A mechanic who became an artist who became a chef who became a fool. We no longer carry our dreams close to our hearts, no longer in secrecy or solitude; we now take our lives into our virtual communities and share our most intimate thoughts and dreams. Have we lost the true north on our moral compass? Aristotle was a great believer in virtue, not in the meaning of ‘What should I do?’ but rather, ‘What sort of person do I want to become?’ How do we rise above the fray of conflict in finding our own personal truths and keeping it sacred while still engaged in the modern world?
In keeping with the ideas of virtue we can practice the ‘Golden Mean’, living between two vices: the extremes, one of excess and one of deficiency. Something that the Buddhist refers to as the Middle Way. One of discipline and compassion. The Middle Way lies at the very heart of Buddhism, according to the first sermon given by Buddha, the Middle Way is a life lived between the extremes of self-denial and self-indulgence, neither hedonist nor ascetic. Beyond our self-applauding personalities and gloating egos, we are already enlightened. At our human core we understand virtue and compassion. When we let go of greed, hatred, delusion and petty gossip we don’t suffer as much as when we might be trying to get even in an oh-so-cunning way by blogging our personal vendettas or sending virtual ‘unrequited love letters’ in the form of prose or poetry.
We really do not have a book on ethics when it comes to social media. We might just follow the golden rule, but then this seems to be the era of not always aspiring to be treated the way we treat others. So perhaps just a bit of common decency would be a good rule to follow ____ and of course there is always virtue and the Middle Way.
Be kind to one another and remember the words of Emily Dickinson:
“If I can stop one heart from breaking I shall not live in vain.”
May 31 2021
Photography - Header Image: Anna O.
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