All this chaos: how to not make it yours?
No matter what or where your priorities in life lay, you will come to a time where you must turn with the winds than resist it. The fast paced business world is closing in on us and consumerism is at its peak; with this capitalism will revolve around you. A situation of absolute whirlwind of chaos with deadlines, mental demands, midnight business call links, constant travels to places you’d dread that make you snuck out your soft bed in the morning and make you late for dinner! Yet as apophatic philosophy tells you, it’s via negativa to reach the ends of peace.
Let me take Lord of the Rings to elaborate. Frodo and his fellow hobbits take the road through the old forest to evade the pursuit of Black Riders. They are nearly killed by the angry tree called Old Man Willow, but are saved at the last moment by Tom Bombadil. The forest is known for its dangers but its crossing is essential for its journey. Similarly in medieval times, the heroic journey comprised of horrors and impending doom constantly shadow king over them, but nevertheless, there was the journey.
Now what’s different in the contemporary context is that instead of the vivid lush greens of the Middle Earth, there is AC, bland wall colours along with far less styled and might I add, quite uneventful use of language. Yet circumstances remain the same. The situations around you may not align with your set of values and faith, but in rebellion and immersion, you are given the space to question and living in the cognitive dissonance of it all. Cognitive dissonance as widely defined on the WWW refers to the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change. But in simpler words, it is the discord you feel when your thoughts and that of the world around you does not align. Humans are naturally conformist, hence, they will always try to work their way into belonging. Recently through a series of decisions, I caved into a decision that didn’t seem mine at all. Instead it was a series of why’s that followed it instead of a pat on my back. Yet it is here I try to justify that anger may not be a bad thing. It reestablishes one’s purpose in things. My values were challenged and through my anger, I was able to build them back with greater strongholds defending them. Even beyond the capitalist ventures of the corporate lands, you find such discord in far more important places such as religious institutions, primary and secondary education providers, the very core of state governance and so on. The value of via negativa is then a smart mindset to adapt. It is far more embedded in learning of controlling the controllable (i.e. your mind) than controlling the uncontrollable forces (i.e. the external world). In strengthening your mind to exist without internalizing the situations around you, you are naturally pushed to a realm where you are unswayed by the chaos. This reiterates the phrase- journey over destination.
In all essence, thereby, one must aspire to be a leader of oneself where the eye of the hurricane is embodied, where amidst the chaos, you stand still in peace.
AIESEC in University of Peradeniya